Marriages in America are failing. For every 1000 people in the US, there are 8.2 divorces. That’s up from 6.5 in 2018.
Sometimes divorce is the best option. Yet, in many cases, couples therapy sessions can heal damage and provide a healthy way forward.
Therapy can help you pinpoint the sources of conflict in your relationship. You will both get tools that you can use to improve.
Yet, counseling often feels like a really big step. Read on to learn what to expect from a first counseling session with a marriage therapist.
Before Your First Marriage Counseling Session
Before starting marriage counseling, many therapists will provide a phone consultation. This is to give you an idea of what to expect in couples therapy as well as to answer questions.
There are many different types of therapy such as EMDR, CBT, psychodynamic, and more. Your therapist will explain which type of therapy he or she practices.
The therapist will also be listening to make sure that they are the best fit for your needs.
Usually, you will also be asked to fill out some paperwork and set up payments and schedule future sessions. The paperwork will outline policies and procedures and give you a chance to outline your goals.
It’s OK if you aren’t certain what your goals are. This is a topic that you will discuss during your session. Don’t worry too much about getting down on paper every tiny issue in your marriage.
This form or consultation call is just to give the therapist a general idea of your relationship. You will spend more time exploring the issues during sessions.
The Goal of Marriage Counseling
The point of marriage counseling is for you and your spouse to get help to figure out what patterns of behavior or communication are putting stress in your marriage.
It is important to understand that marriage counseling doesn’t necessarily require both partners to attend. Though that is ideal, it is possible to go to marriage counseling alone.
Understand that all therapy, especially marriage counseling, takes time and a lot of effort. Counseling is a process that will require you to reflect and be honest about your actions. It is a way to learn how to improve communication with your spouse.
There is no quick fix to change undesirable behaviors or patterns in marriage. Yet, it is possible that a couple only needs a few sessions before they can change their habits.
Many therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy. Ultimately, marriage counseling can help you gain a better understanding of and deeper empathy for your partner.
But what can you expect from your very first session?
The First Couples Counselling Session
The first session will vary depending on your therapist. Some like to have a longer 90-minute introductory session. This allows him or her to get to know your story.
Some therapists speak to each spouse separately first and then together for the rest of the session.
Either way, you can expect to be asked questions about your relationship. When and how did the relationship start and how has it progressed?
Your therapist will want to know the dynamics of the marriage as well as the issues and concerns you each have. If needed, you may also seek out trauma therapy.
One question will surely be, “what made you decide to come to couples therapy?”
The therapist will be listening closely. But they will not just be listening to the words you say. They will also observe how you communicate as a couple and how to react to each other’s words.
Know that the first counseling session may feel uncomfortable for you and your partner. That is normal.
You haven’t yet built a trusting relationship with your therapist, but that will come with time. If you can stick it out for the first couple of sessions, you will soon start to reap the rewards of therapy.
Remember, the first session is really a two-way assessment. This is also your chance to get a feel for the therapist. If it doesn’t feel like the right fit, you are welcome to try another therapist who may suit you better.
Setting Goals Together
During the first few sessions, you as a couple together with your therapist will create some goals.
During your sessions, you will figure out what those goals should be based on what you want for your relationship.
Your therapist will guide you to find goals that will get you closer to what you want from your relationship. You might have couple goals as well as individual ones.
Note that the end goal of marriage counseling is not always to stay in the marriage. Sometimes, the best thing for both partners is to divorce.
That is an option that you will discuss in therapy. A therapist will never push you to stay or leave a relationship, however. They will only ask questions to help you examine how you feel about it.
Homework After Your Counseling Session
It is very likely that you will make some big progress during a counseling session. Even so, your therapist may give you suggestions on what to work on until your next session.
It might be simple such as go on a date once a week. Or it could be abstract such as find ways to have fun with each other throughout the week in small ways.
The homework you get, of course, is optional. Yet, if you are committed to improving your relationship, it is a good idea to put energy into working on it.
Ready to Get Started?
Thanks for reading about what to expect in a couples’ first counseling session. We know that taking the first step is the hardest. Yet, the rewards are worth the effort.
If you still have questions, check out this site’s FAQ section.
Then, schedule an appointment request. Don’t wait to get the help you need.