Couples counselling is a therapy in which a psychologist helps couples solve problems with their relationships. It is for couples who are in a relationship whether or not they are married although it is mostly associated with married people. Some people who are dating have been known to go for couples counselling to help them build strong foundations especially as pertains to communication right from the start. Couples counselling is still relatively new and only gaining traction in places like Kenya so it stands to reason that people may not necessarily know how to prepare for a session. Therapy is a huge deal and couples counselling is possibly more intense because it involves at least two people. Here are some ways to prepare.
1. 100% commitment
Make sure both of you are 100% committed to and invested in attending therapy together. If only one partner is enthusiastic about it with the other feeling reluctant or forced into it, you have a problem. A relationship requires both partners to be committed to putting in the required effort.
2. Prepare to talk and be vulnerable
The choice to attend counselling is not an easy one. You will need to share deep intimate things that were previously personal and closely held. Mentally prepare yourself to talk openly and honestly about your feelings and for the potential fallout that may result from it as both of you share potentially painful things. It will likely be difficult at first, but a good counsellor will help you share your thoughts and feelings. Keep an open mind and be prepared to be vulnerable about yourself, your family, your feelings, and more.
3. Discuss your goals with your partner
You and your partner need to talk beforehand about what you are hoping to achieve through therapy, and what you are hoping to get out of it. Is the intention to grow as a couple or resolve a specific issue such as infidelity or abuse? Do you need to work on your conflict style? What is it that has one or both of you dissatisfied with the relationship as it currently is? Every relationship is unique and has its own struggle, you need to identify your problems and decide on the goals of therapy together. It helps to attend your first counselling session having identified some issues and set your goals.
Be realistic with your expectations. Therapy is usually long-term and it is unlikely that you will resolve the issues you have identified in one or three sessions. Couples counselling will usually identify deep-rooted problems and feelings which will not happen overnight.
4. Prioritize comfort and fit in your search for a couples counsellor
Picking a therapist that works for both of you may take some time so start the search and early and settle on one with whom both of you are comfortable.
Before settling on one do your research. Read therapists’ bios and introductory videos if they have any to get a sense of their personality, demeanour, how they speak, and perhaps even worldview and biases. Come up with a list of questions that are important to you to ask them including their qualifications, experience, and more. Speak to different therapists to find out their approach to couples counselling and decide which method appeals to you. Also, consider speaking to the therapists separately to determine if both of you are comfortable with them. Agree on your pick together.
5. Make Time
Now that both of you are committed to the process, set your goals, selected a therapist and you are ready to talk openly and honestly, it’s time to make time in your busy schedules for these couples counselling sessions. Our lives are busier than ever so you will have to be deliberate about setting aside time for these sessions. As you set aside time, it is important to give yourself time alone before and after therapy. Before to mentally prepare yourself for the session and after to reflect and process your emotions. Schedule your appointment at a time that works for both of you.
You will likely be nervous and even afraid about your first session. That’s normal. Be prepared to do the intense emotional work and be equally prepared to be changed by the process. Your therapist is here to help you and if both of you are committed to going through couples counselling to strengthen your relationship then that’s more than enough to start with.
Here’s a great piece on Couples And Money: How To Navigate The Minefield Of Marital Finances. Also, check out 5 Relationship Stages All Long-Term Couples Go Through