Have you ever wondered how you and your partner can have the most success in couple’s therapy? Oftentimes, couples come into therapy not knowing what to expect or what they can do to help the process be successful. Well, you’re in luck! Here are 5 tips to help you and your partner to have the most success in couple’s therapy.
Therapy is the most successful when there are clear goals to work towards. So, what do you and your partner want out of therapy? To set goals, it can be helpful to think about the day that you could terminate your therapist (on a good note!). At what point could you and your partner tell your therapist that you have accomplished your goals for couple’s therapy? What changes would you see that would show you that? Communicate with your partner about what goals you have for therapy and set them together! Remember, that when setting goals for couple’s therapy, the goals that are being worked towards are being worked towards in a joint effort. This means that both you AND your partner will have changes that you’re working towards.
2.Understand The Process
Therapy is not a “one and done” ordeal. Conflicts can take days, months, and years to build up. Therefore, after one session, don’t expect the conflicts to be resolved. Understand the process of therapy by knowing that it will take time, effort, and commitment. If you have questions along the way, or feel that you are not moving as quickly as you and your partner would desire, ask your therapist about it. It can be helpful for you and your therapist to be on the same page as to what your progress looks like in therapy and to know if you’re on the “right” track.
In couple’s therapy, it is extremely common for couples to come in and point the finger at their partner. Simply stated, it can be easy to play the blame game in couple’s therapy. From the first therapy session until the last, be intentional in reflecting on YOUR part in the cycle of conflict with your partner. Ultimately, it takes two to engage in conflict, and so, think about what your part is in this. How do you respond to your partner during times of conflict? What do you do that contributes to the conflict continuing? How have you shown-up in you and your partner’s relationship? To have success in couple’s therapy, both partners need to take ownership for their part. Don’t point the finger at your partner, but rather, think about what you can do to improve.
Your therapist wants to hear what you have to say! Both you and your partner are going to have unique and valid perspectives as to what has led you to therapy. Therefore, it’s important for your therapist to hear from you. Oftentimes, it may feel scary or uneasy to participate in therapy, and that’s understandable. However, in order for the changes you desire to happen, your perspective, thoughts, feelings, and reflections must be told.
Outside of participation through sharing your thoughts and feelings, it is important for you to participate in the process of therapy outside of the therapy room. This means that it is important for you to start working towards changes once you leave therapy. If your therapist assigned homework, try it out! If your therapist didn’t assign homework, think about what resonates with you the most from your session and work to apply this new action or thought after leaving the therapy room. Participation in the therapy process will help you to get the most out of your therapy sessions, but will also help you start seeing the changes that you desire outside of the therapy room.
5. Notice The Good
By the time you and your partner have decided to come to couple’s therapy, you and your partner have likely been experiencing a great deal of stress from conflict. During this time, it can be hard to see the things that are going well in your relationship or even throughout therapy. To have the most success in couple’s therapy, be intentional in noticing the good things. If you notice your partner making efforts through this process, acknowledge them for it. If there are positive changes being made, acknowledge these as well. Moreover, remember that therapy helps create change. Therefore, think about the good things in the relationship that you hope will never change. This can help create a positive mind-set coming into therapy and also help you to remember strengths that you and your partner have in your relationship.
As a couple’s therapist, I want couples to have the most success in couple’s therapy. And I’m sure most therapists would agree with this statement! So, to experience the most success in couple’s therapy, try these tips- set goals, understand the process, don’t point the finger at your partner, participate in and outside of the therapy room, and notice the good things along the way.