Couples Therapy: What to Expect

Couples therapy allows couples to work through relationship troubles that may have been too difficult or tiring to do so on their own. You can expect each couples therapy session to be guided by an experienced professional who helps both partners be more open to listening to one another, expressing themselves, and making positive changes for their relationship. 

Couple in need of couple therapy

If you’re wondering if couples therapy could benefit you and your partner, someone you know, or are just curious to learn more, this blog post will teach you what to expect a session to be like, and what couples can achieve through couples therapy.

Why Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is a safe place to share your concerns that may not be easy to talk about at home without strong emotions arising and difficulty listening to one another.  The counsellor will make your sessions a safe place for both partners to be heard. In this space you can work to understand not only the surface concerns that may be causing conflict, but the underlying concerns that are being triggered as well. Why couples therapy is beneficial is because these concerns may not be addressed at home in a way that allows learning and shifting to a new way of understanding the concerns, where couples therapy does just that. This ultimately allows for deeper emotional intimacy and trust to occur between partners.

What A Session Looks Like and Timeline

During couple sessions, the therapist/counsellor will listen to and clarify your needs and concerns non-judgmentally. They will also help you and your partner realize what is supportive feedback and what is not. Once needs and feedback from both sides have been established and recognized, the therapist will recommend therapeutic tools and skills needed in order to facilitate a healthy shift in the couple’s relationship.

There will be multiple sessions needed, and in some cases it may be suggested that the couple put a timeline on how long they’re prepared to learn and work on their relationship in therapy/counselling. Couple therapists often suggest three month increments where the couple will have sessions, then evaluate the progress with the therapist at the end of that time.

Three months is suggested because it takes about 90-days or three months for the brain and central nervous system to shift along with new learning. With over 39 years of experience being a therapist/counsellor and a life-coach, I have found that checking in each session on each partner is most effective. This is because opposed to checking in at the three month mark, we can find out if we are off track before it is too late to adjust.

Couple in couples therapy session

Homework After A Session

Once you have your session with the therapist, you may be given suggestions of various things you can do at home. It’s like homework where you won’t be graded or judged if you don’t do it, but it will help you learn and integrate the skills and tools faster that will improve your relationship.  Here are some examples of skills and tools that the therapist can teach you and your partner:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Conflict resolution, negotiation and collaboration skills
  • Healthy boundary setting skills
  • Personal growth and awareness
  • Problem solving and decision-making skills
  • Self-esteem and confidence building
  • Enhancing motivation
  • Effective parenting skills
  • Emotional and physical intimacy concerns and enhancement
  • Assertiveness skills

What If My Partner Doesn’t Want to Participate?

If your partner is not open to attending sessions individually or as a couple, there are still ways they can benefit from your sessions. The therapist can share a variety of different ways to help engage the partner who may be reluctant. They can also clarify how one partner can learn the helpful tools and skills to model to the other partner. This allows you and your partner to eventually work together to improve your relationship and make it more satisfying.

Couple after couples therapy session

What’s Next?

Finding the right therapist/counsellor is important to be effective in your couple therapy experience and also to feel like you are in a safe environment. The ideal therapist/counsellor is one that has had training in individual, couple, and family therapy, has a master’s degree in Social Work, or is a Psychologist with this type of therapy training. If possible, it is also advantageous to have a therapist who has worked as a Life Coach. If you want a therapist who meets these recommendations, learn more about my couples counselling services. Overall, a therapist with these recommendations will be able to create a realistic and effective map for your relationships success through their vast knowledge and experience. 

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