The idea of any sort of counselling or therapy is often quite frightening for people. The idea of attending a therapy session with somebody else, for example in a couples therapy session can be even more unnerving, sometimes causing feelings of fright to amplify into sheer terror or dread. Despite this, knowing what to expect can make your appointments a little bit easier and can provide some reassurance that whatever happens in your therapy room, you’ll be reassured for the future.
What is couples counselling/therapy?
During couples counselling, you and your partner will meet with a specialist to talk through and explore the problems you’re both facing. The therapist will help you both to open up, highlighting the strengths in your relationship alongside what might be causing you distress.
It is important to remember that this is a gradual process; it will take time for you both to open up fully and effort will be required to ensure that the sessions are effective. Patience and perseverance are key requirements for making sure that couples therapy is effective and useful.
What to expect from a couples therapy session
Some typical exercises you might experience during couples therapy include:
Getting to know yourselves or each other
Initial sessions will start with the basics. Your counsellor will need to get to know you both, your likes, your dislikes, your family history and what makes you tick. This may feel like an interview at first, however as your relationship with your counsellor develops, the format will slowly become more conversational and relaxed.
Your therapist will likely give you assignments to work on in between sessions. These can range from tasks involving communicating more, to specific exercises such as using particular words and phrases (such as “I” instead of “you”) when managing conflicts. You will likely be asked to talk about these assignments during subsequent sessions.
You may be asked to take part in trust exercises such as “trust falls” with your partner. Be sure not to let them drop!
Examples of these types of tasks include maintaining eye contact for a given amount of time or holding hands. These are designed to make you feel comfortable with showing affection and being intimate with your partner.
You may also be encouraged to create a list of fun and new activities to try together. This will be to reintroduce a sense of novelty and excitement back into your relationship. Likewise, you might be asked to write an appreciation list where you write down everything you appreciate about your partner in order to rekindle positive feelings about them.