ARE YOU LOOKING FOR SUCCESS IN COUPLES COUNSELING?
By The Marriage and Family Clinic
It is safe to say that most people want to find success when they go to counseling. However, most of that success depends on the couple, not the counselor.
Maybe they don’t know what to expect.
As a couple, perhaps you feel like your therapist will have a magic pill.
Or maybe you are going so your partner can change.
We have worked with hundreds of couples just like you, and have put together five tips to help you and your partner have the most success in couple’s therapy.
1. Set Goals
Therapy is MOST successful when there are clear goals to work towards. To set goals, it can be helpful to think about the day that you finish counseling successfully.
What changes would you see?
How would you interact with each other?
How would you manage conflict?
What would love and connection look like to you?
When setting goals, set them together. Talk about what you both want to change and work towards it in a joint effort. This means that both you AND your partner will have changes that you’re working towards.
2. Understand the Process
Therapy is not a “one and done” ordeal. Conflicts take months and years to build up and can take just as long to undo. Understand the process of therapy by knowing that it will take time, effort and commitment. If you feel that you are no moving as quickly as you and your partner would desire, ask your therapist about it. It can be helpful to be on the same page as to what your progress looks like and to know if you’re on the “right” track.
3. Don’t Point Fingers
In couple’s therapy, it is extremely common for couples to come in and point the finger at their partner. Simply state, it can be easy to play the blame game in therapy. From the first therapy session until the last, be intentional in reflecting on YOUR part in the cycle of conflict with your partner. To have success in couple’s therapy, both partners need to take ownership for their part.
Your therapist wants to hear what you have to say! You both are going to have unique and valid perspectives as to what has led you to therapy. It may feel scary or uneasy to participate, but in order for the changes to happen, your perspective, thoughts, feelings and reflections must be told.
Outside the therapy room, continue to work on those changes. If your therapist assigned homework, try it out. If you therapist didn’t assign homework, think about what resonated with you the most from your session and work to apply this new action or thought until your next session.
5. Notice the Good
By the time you decide to come to couple’s therapy, you have both likely been experiencing a great deal of stress from conflict. During this time, it can be hard to see the things that are going well in your relationship or even throughout therapy. To have the most success in couple’s therapy, be intentional in noticing the good things. If you notice your partner making efforts through this process, acknowledge them for it. Think about the good things in the relationship that you hope will never change. This can help create a positive mindset coming into therapy and also help you to remember strengths that you and your partner have in your relationship.
Feeling like your relationship is in a rut? If you want to see something different in your relationship, think of what you want to be changed – starting with you!
This week think about something you want to change:
Want to start up date night?
Want to unplug at nights?
Want to talk kinder to each other?
Want more connection and touch?
Plan a date, surprise them with a kiss, send them a love letter, point out positive things about them… Do something out of the ordinary that will help you towards the change you want!
The reason this works is that you were doing things in the relationship that led you to this point. Without changing those actions, things will stay the same.
What action have you taken to see changes in your relationship?