It is often difficult to start therapy for one person but trying to get two people involved can be even more complicated. You may want to begin couples therapy because you notice aspects of your relationship you want to work on, or you are having a hard time communicating with your partner. Couples therapy is a great way to improve the relationship between you and your partner, regardless if you are dating, engaged or married. Whether you are having the same arguments with no solutions, or want to build and strengthen skills as a couple, by the end of this article, you will gain information about couples therapy and if it is what you need to support your relationship.
All partners have to agree.
Before any work can be done, you and your partner have to be involved in the decision-making of couples therapy. Think about it: imagine being forced to do something you did not want to do, would you put all your energy into it? The same goes for a person who is not ready to start therapy. This may seem like an obvious statement, but it is important for the therapeutic process that both parties are in agreement. If your partner is reluctant to go into therapy, but is “forced” to go, their unwillingness may keep you where you started. A possible way to get your partner willing to start therapy is if the both of you are committed to participating in one session. In doing this, you are getting your feet through the door, then seeing what will work and what will not.
When beginning therapy, you will want to come in with a flexible mindset about the process. What this means is, you are open to exploring different therapeutic approaches, willing to comfortably delve deeper in conversations, and understand possible problems will not be solved after a few sessions. By allowing yourself to enter sessions without a biased opinion, you allow the opportunity to create a safe space to be heard and supported. Not every therapist is the same nor are their methods to therapy, so try to collaborate with your therapist about what you need to feel supported. Additionally, if you believe your therapist is not what you need, do not be afraid to communicate this with the therapist. It is safe to say, and you are not required to stay with the therapist you start off with. One of the best ways to get what you need out of therapy is having a therapist you align with.
By having reasonable beliefs for therapy, it is more likely you will have success with your goals and experience. You and your partner may struggle with communication. It should not be expected that your presenting issue(s) will be solved by the fifth or tenth session. Therapy is a process that takes commitment from all parties, including the therapist. Progress does not have to be major progress; it can be pieces. Furthermore, most of your work as a couple will be done outside of session. It is easy to imagine during or after a session you and your partner implement skills your therapist discussed, but again, that is going to take some time. Your therapist may see you once a week, but you two are interacting with each other more than with your therapist. It will be your job to put into action and maintain the skills your therapist is introducing to reap the benefits of therapy.
If you want to learn more about how to start couples therapy, reach out to Optimum Joy! Our team would love to connect you with a couples therapist to start the process!
Written by therapist Bria McCalpin