So your partner and you have finally decided to find a couples counsellor to assist with your relationship struggles. You have talked about it, researched counselling services and your first appointment is just a few days away — now what?
I am often asked by nervous couples how they should prepare for their first relationship counselling appointment. This can be a challenging period for couples who don’t know what to expect. Below are some queries couples think about when looking to attend a session:
- Will the counsellor understand my feelings?
- Will I get blamed?
- Is this even going to work?
- Can counselling save a relationship?
- Is relationship counselling worth it?
For years, as a relationship therapist I have been providingMelbourne clinic, who come from a range of different circumstances. I understand that seeking help and attending a counselling session can be difficult. Indeed, in the period leading up to the first appointment, it is normal to feel anxious, distressed and disconnected. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prepare for a counselling session. With a little effort and commitment, you can walk into a room ready to make the best out of your situation.
Below are some points to help you prepare for couples therapy, and the approach I use when assisting with couples of all types:
1. Make sure you’re both committed
I often see cases where one partner suggests couples counselling and is enthusiastic about it while the other reluctantly agrees to come along. Relationships require two people to work, which means both you and your partner need to make the effort. There are many reasons why someone may be opposed to couples counselling in the first place. By and large, there is still a societal stigma around going to therapy sessions. If you’re having trouble convincing your significant other to seek help, the best thing to do is to listen and address their concerns. The more committed both of you are, the higher the chance is of counselling being a success for you both.
2. Prepare to talk about your feelings
Introspection is something that is often forgotten in our increasingly fast-paced world. However, this doesn’t mean it is not important. Take a few moments every day to think about how you’re feeling and let yourself feel the anger and frustration you’ve been bottling up. It is important to make sure to not take this out on your partner, but simply reflect about what makes you feel this way and practice talking it out. Don’t worry if you struggle to do this at first, that’s what your counsellor is here for! Just be prepared to share personal information about yourself, your family and your feelings and go into couples therapy with an open mind.
3. Discuss your goals with your partner
If you’ve chosen to undertake therapy to fix your relationship, it is likely there’s something about you and your partner that is making you unsatisfied. I have spoken to many couples throughout my career, so I understand that every relationship is different and has its own unique struggles. For this reason, it is a good idea to sit down with your other significant half and talk about your problems and goals together. Again, it is crucial to avoid pointing fingers and blaming each other throughout this process. What is it that you want from a couple therapist? Do you want to improve your conflict resolution as a couple? Do you need to listen to each other more? Or is it something else?
4. Clear your schedule for your first session
You’ve committed to seeing a counsellor, so make sure to prioritise it by having clear schedules for and ideally after the session. Remember, your partner’s time and your counsellor’s time is valuable, and if you want to show that you care about the relationship, there’s nothing worse than showing up late to your first appointment. If you’re feeling particularly anxious, you may want to take the day off to practice self care. Likewise, it is best if you have free time available after your appointment. For example, if your session is in the evening, having the rest of the night free can help you rest, reflect and recharge.
5. Talk to friends and family
Couples therapy at the start may feel lonely, but you’d be surprised at how many people actually use a counsellor to improve their relationships. While a stigma around counselling still remains, this is gradually getting better. Who you choose to tell you’re seeing a relationship therapist is up to you, but it often helps to have a network of support who can help you emotionally recharge. At the same time, your friends and family should respect your privacy and autonomy. Establish clear boundaries with whoever you tell, and remember to respect your partner’s privacy as well. Gossiping about your significant other to your friends will only hinder healing and recovery.
Therapy with a counsellor
The more you and your partner are committed to the process, the more you will get out of it as a couple. Take the time and prepare to invest in your valued relationship. Doing the work beforehand will make the process more enjoyable and provide a much better outcome. I’ve put together an article of what you need to know about relationship counselling which will provide an insight leading up to your first session with us at Tide Counselling.
It’s both normal and common to feel nervous about your first counselling session. After all, therapy is a new experience. If you’re looking for counselling in Melbourne, get in touch today. I design my coaching sessions to meet the unique needs and struggles of every relationship.
Please call Tara Parker-Sims on 0417 169 653 for more information, or to book your first appointment.