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How Does Couples Counseling Work?

Are you and your partner considering whether or not couples counseling might be right for you? Maybe you are having a hard time communicating, getting into repetitive arguments, struggling with parenting, having disagreements about finances, or finding your relationship less passionate than it once was. Or maybe you feel secure in your relationship and just want to strengthen your bond and communication skills. There are many ways that therapy can be beneficial. Here is an overview of what couples counseling might be like in order to help you decide if it is right for you.


1) Getting to know you.

The first step in therapy will involve information gathering and getting to know you. It will be important for your therapist to understand why you are seeking therapy. Your therapist will want to know your history, including both your individual backgrounds and your history as a couple. You will share on a personal level about individual strengths and struggles, which may include childhood experiences as well as current issues. It will be important to help your therapist get an understanding of your whole story, so appropriate themes can be properly addressed.


2) Setting goals.

It is important to set goals in order to effectively guide treatment. Your therapist will work with you to decide what you want to achieve, which might include such things as learning problem solving skills, improving communication, increasing intimacy, or understanding ways to handle stress and overwhelming emotions. Some couples find that they only need a few months of therapy to achieve their goals, while others might consider therapy a new way to maintain an ongoing heathy relationship.


3) Introducing helpful interventions.

Once you and your therapist have defined the problem(s) and set appropriate goals, you can learn to work through your struggles with the appropriate therapeutic interventions. This may include communication skills training, learning conflict resolution skills and emotion regulation techniques, and/or practicing exercises to increase intimacy and connection. Your therapist may provide psychoeducation to increase your knowledge of healthy relationship skills and also provide opportunities to practice new skills.


4) Encouraging practice outside of session.

It will be important to practice what you learn in therapy in order for it to generalize into your day-to-day relationship. Your therapist may give you suggestions on what to practice outside of therapy so you can learn to incorporate new communication skills and increase positive behaviors and interactions. Ultimately, you will get to a point where you are able to manage your difficulties outside of therapy without further support. Often times, individual therapy is also helpful so each person can have one-on-one time to work out personal struggles.


5) Following up to monitor progress.

Checking in for regular therapy sessions can help you, your partner, and your therapist monitor ongoing progress. Again, you may only need a few months to work through your struggles, or you might find yourself benefitting from ongoing therapy to support you in your relationship. Either way, couples counseling might help you improve your relationship and develop the skills necessary to maintain a healthy and satisfying connection with your partner. If you are unsure about whether couples counseling will work for you, reach out for more information and we are happy to help.

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