Have you and your partner been thinking about going to couples counselling? If so, you might be wondering what to expect.
While every session will be unique, it’s best to focus on what you can do to ensure that your time in couples counselling is a success. And no matter what you and your partner are dealing with, the same tactics generally serve couples well in counselling.
The Couples Institute, the organisation I am professionally aligned with, provides expert advice on couples counselling and communication, recommends focusing on these four concepts if you want to see breakthroughs in your relationship.
1. Prepare With Self-Reflection
Before you and your partner go into a session, it’s important for both of you to spend some time in self-reflection. It’s smart to ask yourself a few specific questions and give yourself time to really think about your answers. For instance, you should have an objective in mind. Why are you attending counselling? Without a specific objective, the two of you may struggle to define what you really want to get out of these sessions.
You should also think about the future of your relationship. What do you want your bond with your partner to look like? How can you best use this time in counselling to build the relationship that you both want to be in? You need a vision that you can work towards together.
2. Go in With the Right Attitude
You should aim to enter every session with an open mind. Before your first session, you may be quite nervous, and that’s normal. But you and your partner both need to have a positive attitude towards counselling, even if you’re struggling in your relationship.
Granted, you may not be too happy with each other right now?and that’s okay! But be open-minded about the benefits of counselling itself. This doesn’t mean that you should try to force yourself to feel cheerful at every session. However, going in with negative expectations can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
3. Focus on Changing Yourself
It’s all too easy to feel like the goal of couples counselling involves changing your partner. But this perspective will not help you and your partner revive your romance. In fact, it can even drive resentment.
Sometimes, it helps to keep in mind that some of your assumptions about your relationship?and your partner?may be incorrect. If you assume the worst about your partner and believe you need to fix these flaws through counselling, it could do far more harm than good. And remember, your partner can’t single-handedly change you, either?you have to be willing to make changes on your own.
4. Ask Difficult Questions
There may be moments when your counsellor prompts you to dive deeper into an issue. You might be tempted to hold back your feelings for fear that the conversation will become messy and complicated. But in counselling, you can’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Asking difficult questions is the best way to get to the roots of any issues in your relationship.
You and your partner need to be willing to uncover the causes of your problems. Yes, this process can be uncomfortable and emotional. But if you can’t dive below the surface and figure out what has truly come between you, you won’t be able to gain much from your time in counselling.
Do you feel like you and your partner have been trying to solve the same problem for too long with no real progress? Wondering what your next steps should be?
Couples counselling can help. Please, reach out to me to discuss your options and find out how I can help.