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April 29, 2019

What to Expect in Couples Therapy: What Actually Happens in Couples Counseling?

Is your relationship not as strong as it once was? Are you and your significant having trouble communicating or trusting each other?

Before you throw in the towel, try to repair your relationship back to its healthy state. Studies show that couples therapy is effective at restoring a relationship 75 percent of the time.

Going into your first session of couples counseling can feel intimidating at first. Here’s what to expect in couples therapy and how it actually works.

Reveal Basic Information About the Relationship

Wondering what to expect from couples counseling? The first session is spent learning more about each individual person and your relationship as a couple.

Is important that your therapist or counselor gets to know each of you on a personal level. They can ask about everything from your childhood to how you met each other.

While these facts may seem insignificant to you, they are important to understanding your whole story.

Many people get discouraged after the first session is just a bunch of questions and there’s not a lot of actual therapy happening. Don’t worry, this is just so your therapist or counselor can get to know each of you.

As your sessions continue, they will be more of what you expect.

Get to the Root of The Problems

There can be many different reasons why you are trying couples counseling.

Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Having the same arguments over and over
  • Never fighting and ignoring the problems
  • Physical intimacy problems

Not everyone’s problems will look the same, but identifying your specific problems is an important step.

You may go into therapy thinking that your problem is all based on intimacy. But your therapist could soon discover that your relationship lacks trust and communication.

As you share your concerns, your therapist will look for underlying, connecting themes.

Develop Goals and a Timeline

By pinpointing the root of your relationship problems, you can then develop your goals for therapy.

Every couple’s goals will look different. Maybe you want to fall in love again or understand each other better. Some of your goals can focus on specific skills or just getting through a large adjustment together, such as a job change.

A certain percentage of couples may decide that their goal is to end the relationship on a good note. Therapy can help you realize that your relationship is beyond saving and learn how to let go of it healthily.

Remember that your goals can evolve over the course of your therapy. So your initial goal won’t necessarily be your end goal.

Once you lay out your goals for therapy, you and your therapist will develop a timeline. This will happen once you already go through a few sessions and they get a better idea of where your relationship stands.

Some couples only need a few months of therapy. Other couples may consider therapy a new part of their relationship.

Learn New Skills to Improve Relationship

What happens in marriage counseling? The most important aspect of marriage counseling is learning new skills that’ll benefit your relationship beyond the counseling sessions.

Some of the most important skills in a relationship include:

Most couples have had all the essential skills at some point in their relationship but have just forgotten how to use them. Your therapy sessions will remind you of the importance of these skills and show you how they can improve your relationship.

Homework Outside of Sessions

Working on your relationship doesn’t stop once your therapy session ends. In fact, a major part of couples therapy is what happens in between the sessions.

You’ll have tasks, or homework, to complete between each session. It’s important that you take your lessons seriously and complete these tasks if you want the counseling to work.

Some of these homework assignments could include:

  • Go out on a date without your phones.
  • Get intimate with your partner.
  • Keep a log of your emotions and any arguments that arise.
  • Read a self-help book together and hold discussions.

The ultimate goal of this homework is to get you to a point where you can work out your issues on your own outside of therapy. You’ll start small with a few tasks but eventually, you’ll be able to tackle any issue that arises.

Attend Both Couple and Individual Sessions

If you’re still wondering what is couples therapy like, you may be surprised that it won’t always be as a couple.

While couples sessions are the basis of the therapy, there are some things you need to work on by yourself. Often times, one of you has skills that the other needs to brush up on.

Or one of you needs one-on-one time to work out trust issues from their past.

Individual sessions are a possibility, but no couples therapy is successful with merely individual sessions. In order to be successful, you need to make sure both you and your significant other are committed to the sessions.

Beyond What to Expect in Couples Therapy

Now that you know what to expect in couples therapy, it’s time to improve your relationship. There’s no time like the present and you have nothing to lose.

Want to start therapy but have limited time? Look into online relationship support.

Our Relationship offers an online program to develop communication skills and to reconnect as a couple. Through the online program, you’ll learn to trust each other again and watch your relationship thrive.

Sign up online today to see if you qualify for free online programs.

Grant Funding

Funding for these programs was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant Number 90FM0063

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