By choosing to undergo couples therapy, you and your partner are committing to improving your relationship and overall well-being. However, this choice can also be intimidating. As you approach your first couples therapy session, you might be feeling anxious and unsure of what to expect. You might also be nervous about what to say and how your partner will react.
While these feelings are certainly normal, there are a few simple ways you can prepare for your first session. Doing so can help you feel at ease while talking to the therapist, and you can get the most out of the session.
DO mentally prepare for the session
Approaching the session with the right mindset can help you get the most out of your first appointment. Take time before the session to mentally prepare yourself for the difficult conversations ahead. You might even consider doing some journaling or talking with a trusted friend.
Remind yourself that the therapist might ask uncomfortable questions and that you might have to face issues that you have been avoiding. In addition to mentally preparing yourself, consider talking to your partner about what you hope to get out of these appointments.
DON’T use the session as individual therapy
Remember that this therapy session is meant to help you and your partner work through your issues together. It is not a time for you to seek individual counseling. If you feel like you need therapy for yourself, be sure to seek your own form of counseling separately.
In some cases, a couples therapist may recommend individual therapy to their clients before they approach couples counseling. Then you can avoid dominating the conversation with your own concerns.
DO check your temper
Couples therapy sessions can get emotional, but it’s important to keep your anger in check. If you are feeling overwhelmed, communicate that to the counselor and your partner. They can help you pause and breathe until you are ready to express your concerns.
And remember that it’s perfectly normal to feel angry during your first session. Over time, it will become easier to work through these moments of frustration both in and out of your therapy sessions.
DON’T rush your progress
While you are certainly eager to move forward with your partner, remember that true change takes time. You might not see immediate results after your first session, but the progress will happen gradually.
As with any type of learning, it takes time to practice using your conflict management tools at home. Keep your therapist updated about your successes and challenges so they can continuously encourage you and give you new tactics.
DO be open to your own faults
Couples therapy requires self-reflection, and this can be uncomfortable at first. It can be difficult to accept that conflict is generally not one person’s fault. You will likely need to acknowledge your own role in some of your relationship issues.
While it can be easy to get on the defense, you will ultimately get more benefit out of admitting your own faults and growing from then. As you grow, you and your partner will learn to compromise and apologize.
Making an appointment with a couples counselor is a brave decision for both you and your partner. Whether you are looking for a therapist in NYC or a small town, try to find one that makes you feel comfortable and heard.
With the right professional on your side, you can move through some of the hardest obstacles in your relationship. The tools that they provide can help your marriage grow and thrive for years to come.