Couples Counselling preparation
It’s common if you’ve not had therapy before, to be unsure of what to expect. You may not be aware of what the therapist does or what to expect from the therapy. Usually, couples expect their partner to do most of the work and the therapist will just facilitate how both parties are feeling, occasionally people assume the therapist takes a side (this does not happen). Occasionally you may find some sessions are geared toward one person, this, unfortunately, does happen sometimes because there usually is some resistance from that partner which needs resolving prior to a balance being created in the sessions.
Consider the following before each sessions:
Each session can be made effective if the following happens: be aware of the goals of therapy each session, rather than focussing on what’s happened right now, thinking through the steps you may need to take to support achieving the kind of relationship you both want or even the type of partner you wish to be. Taking time to reflect on yourself prior to coming into your sessions can be very helpful to keep you both on track to achieve your goals.
Coming to sessions with an open mind can help a lot and understanding what needs to change is great however it’s also important to understand how to address issues differently from what you’ve already done. Sometimes in sessions, you may have to address the reasons why you don’t want to change and be open about having these discussions allowing for insight to be provided.
Know that there will be times when either or both parties will have misunderstandings and false assumptions about each other, whether this is you trying to understand your partner or whether you feel you know why they act/behave in the way they do as opposed to what you’re being told. Working through these assumptions and misunderstandings can elevate pressures in the relationship which don’t need to exist. If both of you work on changing yourselves rather than trying to change your partner, the process can be more effective. Therapy can be more effective if you work on achieving personal goals that work at helping the relationship flourish. If your focus is solely on your partner to change, you will find you’ll end up going around in circles.
The way you both respond to each other, and how you think and behave towards each other is highly important and working on these can be challenging at times. You won’t be able to change your partner however if you both work on changing yourselves you’ll see the changes in your relationship. Everything seems possible if it’s not you who is making the changes.
When it comes to communication it’s more important for you to understand what your partner hears from what you said, as these are not always the same thing. You may find you’re saying one thing and your partner responds with something completely different.
For effective communication, patience is important, patience allows you to hear what’s being said, digest the information before responding, this comes along with respect and a willingness to change. In therapy and in general, it’s highly important, to be honest, and open about your feelings and thinking, this allows for you both to have open conversations to work on the issues rather than appeasing or not saying anything out of fear.
Be aware of how you feel in the session, manage your feelings and communicate these without acting on them, focus on how you’re communicating i.e., is there an equal communication style or are one in a child mode and the other in a parent mode?
Working on understanding the issues is a great step however it’s important to acknowledge like an onion, the issue can have many layers.
The foundation for relationships as well as trust is emotional safety for both parties, where you believe and feel that you can be yourself, open and honest about how you feel without repercussions. The moment anyone feels threatened whether this is emotionally or physically, we become defensive, and this can happen in romantic relationships, resulting in people becoming reactive and not listening at the moment as they fear they’re in danger.
On the last note – remember insight can be given to you individually or in your relationship, however, insight without change leads to no change. Acting without thinking is impulsive. Insight with action can lead to lasting change.
“Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results” Albert Einstein