Welcome, I’m so glad you are considering couples therapy; that’s an amazing first step! Whether you want to bring back the initial “spark” to your relationship, or if there are obstacles in your relationship you’d like to overcome, couples therapy is for you.
Couples therapy can be helpful for improving communication, decreasing conflict, and increasing overall connectedness in a relationship. It doesn’t matter if you have been together for six months or sixty years, it’s always helpful to learn new tools and experience moments of emotional intimacy and understanding. Here are five things you can generally expect in a first couples session:
1) Formalities and Setting Expectations
The very first thing a couples therapist will do is review the forms for consent and terms of confidentiality. They may also tell you a bit about their style of therapy and answer any questions you may have. As couples therapists, we want you and your partner to feel as comfortable as possible and at ease with the therapeutic process.
2) Getting to Know You and Your Partner
Next, we like to get to know you! We might ask: How did you meet? How long have you been together? What attracted you to each other in the first place and created those sparks? This part of the conversation is usually enjoyable for both partners and causes them to smile.
3) Setting Goals
Once we have learned more about you and your partner, we initiate a conversation about goals for therapy. Some common examples are: improving communication, increasing connection, and developing healthy ways to disagree. As your couples therapists, we want you to know that conflict is normal and that many of the things that you and your partner have experienced, other couples have experienced too.
4) Equal Opportunity
A common concern we often hear is: “What if my partner talks through the whole session and I don’t get to say my side?” Or vice versa?” This is an important part of our job as couples therapists. We have years of professional training and important strategies to ensure that both partners get to communicate their perspective in session. Both you and your partner should have equal opportunity to talk in session.
5) Emotions and Closure
At the end of the session, it is normal to feel some emotions. For some people, expressing these emotions can feel like a weight lifted off their shoulders. For others, it might mean walking away from the session feeling like they’ve run a marathon of emotion. Both these feelings are valid. When closing off a session, we often talk about these emotions and the plan for after-session self-care. After the first session, you may not feel a full sense of closure, and this is very normal. We recommend booking subsequent sessions more frequently at the start of therapy so that you can get the most from your couples therapy and keep the momentum going.
After these five main parts to your first session, our hope is that you walk away from it feeling more connected to your partner. I also want you to have some real-life applicable strategies to improve your relationship. As always, if you have any questions regarding couples therapy, feel free to reach out and ask.