Growing up we learn to relate to friends, family members and colleagues but rarely do we nowadays have suitable role models to learn 'healthy intimate relating' from. In couples therapy partners can learn what makes a relationship satisfying and where they can enhance theirs.
Feeling at ease with your therapist
It is important that you as a couple feel comfortable with your therapist, be it a woman, a man or a 'therapy couple'. Give your therapist a few sessions to feel whether there is a good fit between you, your partner and the way the therapist works with you.
What to expect
In couples therapy counsellors, coaches and therapists traditionally follow different theories. What you can expect is that your therapist will ask about your relationship history to understand how you came together as a couple and what your challenges have been along the way. They will also take your personal history including some details about your family of origin to see whether there are patterns in your family history that are repeating themselves.
Individual sessions – couples session
Personally I have found that a mixture of couples and individual sessions works best. In all couples issues there are potentially hidden personal challenges that are triggered by the partner. These personal issues come up as an invitation to be dealt with and it sometimes is better for the individual to work through them in their own time and space.
In couples session I have found that couples learn to better listen to their partner when they are asked to listen first and then speak, rather than to react immediately. This structure often helps them to be able to fully express themselves within the safe environment of the therapy and on the other side to actively listen with patience and keep reactivity low.
Use your therapist wisely
As a couples therapist I suggest to my clients that they want to use my time wisely. They do not need to come into therapy to pay me to watch them have the same fights as they have at home. This time is better used to think about the underlying reasons and mechanism that lead to the fighting. Refer to my other article 'Couples Therapy – It Can Save Your Relationship!' for more information.
Ask for professional help
If you have been wondering if couples therapy is for you then give it a try. When emotions run high reactivity is almost unavoidable. Sometimes all your efforts might not be enough to change the patterns you and your partner have gotten yourself into. If you have not yet found the courage to ask for help it is time to do it now.