For people who have never been to couples therapy, and especially for those who have never been to any type of therapy, it can seem like a daunting process to come in and share all of your personal problems with a complete stranger. This blog is intended to provide some guidance about what you can expect when you start couples therapy.
Keep This in Mind
The first important thing is that you are not sharing your personal information with just any complete stranger. Instead, you are sharing your personal information with someone who is trained in assisting you and your partner. Likewise, you are sharing this information with someone who is bound by strict confidentiality laws and ethics, so it’s not as though this person is going to share all of your secrets with another party. These factors are important to consider as they can help to ease your concerns about the therapy process.
The first session
The first session (and next few sessions) in couples therapy is very similar to the first session in individual therapy. The main purpose of this session is to get to know you when your partner, to understand why you chose to seek therapy, to understand the problems and challenges in your relationship, the history of your relationship, and to assess what you both want to be different.
How each therapist conducts this session is of course different based on that therapist’s clinical approach, training, and personality. But at the core, the essential purpose of the first one to three sessions for the therapist is getting an understanding of how this person can help you and your partner. For the couple, the first few sessions are about providing the therapist with the information needed for them to help you, and of course, getting comfortable with your therapist and with the therapy process. In most cases, it won’t be long before you and your partner are feeling very secure in the process and have good faith in your therapist’s guidance.
The key factor
The key factor in couples therapy is that both parties are willing to make changes. This means that one person cannot come into the therapy process believing that they are perfect and that all of the problems are the result of their partner. In order for therapy to be effective, both partners have to be willing to look within, to take responsibility for their actions and how those have affected the relationship, and have to be willing to put in the effort to make active changes in their behaviors that affect the other person and the relationship.
Our office’s philosophy is that if even one person is not willing to do these things, then it is not even suggested it to begin therapy. This is because the experience is likely to feel negative, will not result in much change, and the chances of pursuing therapy down the road are less likely to occur (even when it can be very meaningful and effective).
What You Can Do to Prepare
Some people like to feel very prepared for new experiences. When it comes to therapy, the most important thing you can do is come into the therapy process and to the therapy sessions being honest, forthright, and willing to consider and look at things differently. These factors alone will significantly enhance the therapy process. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have an idea, or even lists, of what you want to address in therapy. While the therapist will ask questions to identify main difficulties and the focus of therapy, it certainly is a more streamlined process when a person knows what they’re wanting to work on.
Tampa’s Trusted Couples Therapists
If you and your partner are going through a bumpy phase in your relationship, struggling with substantial issues, or simply wanting to improve communication and romance, or improve your relationship for the better, we can help. Whatever the reason, give us a call or send us an email. Remember, there are many reasons why people seek therapy. Professional mental health assistance can greatly benefit you in many ways, including making important changes in your life and your relationship.
We are committed to providing therapy and counseling services in a comfortable, relaxing, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment to yield the most realistic and best outcomes. Give us a call or email us today to schedule an appointment.