Even the strongest, happiest couples can struggle to navigate the ups and downs of a committed relationship at times. And, while we can often overcome many of these challenges as a couple, there are times when we may need some extra help.
Contrary to popular belief, couples counseling isn’t only for couples with serious relationship issues and deep conflicts. Instead, you should see it as a tool for improving your relationship.
But how can you make the most of this valuable tool and ensure your time with a couples therapist is as productive as possible? Keep reading to find out!
Fill Out Forms Beforehand
Seeing a new doctor often involves filling out forms before they can treat you, and a therapist for couples is no different. You’ll save a lot of time if you fill out and read these forms before your first session with Robin Bryant, Ph.D. This can often avoid wasting precious therapy time on admin tasks and questions unrelated to your relationship.
Focus on the Relationship
Unlike individual therapy, couples therapy is about the relationship, not individuals. A couples therapist sees you as a unit and will identify how both of you contribute to a dysfunctional dynamic. The therapist’s goal will be to help you attune to each other as a way to improve the relationship.
You’ll receive feedback on your behaviors and what you can do to resolve relationship issues. But if you want to delve deeper and resolve personal issues, you’ll have to see an individual therapist too.
Present Problems, Not Blame
It’s important to discuss your shared goals for marriage therapy with your spouse ahead of time to ensure you’re both on the same page. You can then present relational problems to your couples therapist rather than a list of things your partner did wrong.
A significant betrayal like an affair may be the reason you’re both there. Regardless, couples therapy is often more effective if you name the issue as the problem rather than your spouse’s behavior. Instead of “they had an affair”, present the problem as: “trust has been broken due to infidelity.”
Do Your Homework
Marriage counseling often provides insight, but you have to act on that insight to see real change. Your couples therapist will likely give you exercises, communication guidelines, or other homework tasks to do between sessions, so make sure you both do them.
These homework tasks might feel strange or uncomfortable, but you could say the same about your first attempts at trying to change any habit. The sooner you start embracing these changes, the better your relationship will be for it.
How to Get More From Couples Counseling
Couples counseling provides a safe space for you and your partner to understand and improve your relationship. And, while your couples therapist will be there to guide you toward these improvements, you both have to put in the effort to see results.
For more inspirational advice and handy tips, be sure to check out our other blog posts!