5 Things to Expect from Couples Therapy

Congratulations! You and your partner(s) have made the important decision to see a therapist.

Each person often comes to therapy with expectations:

Expectations of the therapist…

Expectations of the process…

Expectations of the relationship…

A good couple’s therapist is aware that there are expectations and will work with you at address questions and concerns throughout the process.

Here are 5 Things to Expect from Couples Therapy at CARE Counseling:

Process for Couple’s Therapy

At CARE, the first four sessions set an important foundation as the first session focuses on the couple’s relationship, then individual sessions with the identified patient and their partner(s), followed by a treatment planning session.

A good couple’s therapist will have a treatment plan that incorporates shared goals for the couple. They help advocate for the shared goals for the relationship

No Secret-Keeping

A good couple’s therapist does not keep secrets. They do not “hold” secrets or meet 1:1 outside of the couple’s session unless there is a clear purpose discussed and agreed upon by the couple as the focus of therapy is on the couple and the relationship. A good therapist also offers to coordinate care with the patient’s individual therapist as best practice, with your written consent.

Objectivity in Session

A good couple’s therapist does not to decide to end the relationship, decide if you should stay together, or get divorced; however, a therapist can provide psychoeducation and tools to help empower you to decide what is best for you.

A good therapist does not take sides. They offer empathy and unconditional positive regard to the relationship–all parties involved. They help each person feel heard and understood.

Modeling and Teaching Healthy Skills

A good couples therapist helps provide psychoeducation on healthy relationships and relational dynamics. This may include teaching communication skills, modeling anger mgmt. during conflict, learning about emotional expression/ modulation, and understanding how to build love-maps. A good couple’s therapist often goes back to the basics—empathetic listening, creating a sense of safety and trust, working with attachment and intimacy, focusing on basic communication, and learning how to express & cope with feelings.

Directive to Contain, Pause & Redirect

A good couple’s therapist can be directive, if needed. They are not going to watch an argument week after week but are going to set ground rules from the beginning, offer containment, take a break/ pause as appropriate and have boundaries to help everyone feel safe.

A good couple’s therapist is not going to be providing therapy when the relationship is unsafe due to factors such as domestic violence or significant therapy interfering behaviors. They may recommend individual therapy in conjunction with couples therapy or take a pause on couples therapy until there is stability in the individual(s).

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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