What To Expect At Your First Couple Counseling?


Thinking of couples counseling? Whether you are going through a tough time or simply want to strengthen your love bonds, everyone has distinct reasons for seeking couple counseling for the first time. 

You may have many questions in your mind before meeting the therapist for the first time. For example, what would the session be like? What kind of questions will the counselor ask? Will I be opposed by the counselor or my partner? However, all the stigma or fear often subsides when a couple attends their first therapy session or Gottman Couples Workshop, which is an alternative or supplement to couples therapy.

Discussing personnel issues with a stranger can seem intimidating, but therapists understand this and are skilled in establishing an environment of trust and respect. Let’s discuss what to expect from a counselor in the first session of couple therapy. 

What Happens At Couple Counseling?

Couples come with specific problems or goals they’re looking to work on. The role of the counselor is to facilitate communication, honesty and healing between you and your partner. A therapist is trained to help you discover the base cause of the relationship issues, identify harmful patterns of behaviours, and develop a treatment plan. The plan can include teaching you both skills to express your emotional needs, improve communication and resolve conflicts.

Generally, partners meet the counselor together. The therapist may speak to each partner separately in the first one or two sessions. The main goal behind individual sessions is for the counselor to learn about each partner’s background and concerns, and the dynamics of the relationship.  

What To Expect From Your First Couple Therapy Session?

The therapists will create an environment where you and your spouse will comfortably express your feelings, thoughts and past experiences.

The counselor may ask a significant number of questions from both of you to know your priorities and goals as an individual as well as a couple. One  common question that most therapists ask during the first session is, “What made you decide to seek couples counseling?”

Be prepared to discuss the main problems you are facing. The counselor will listen to you carefully and closely. However, they will not just focus solely on your words. Therapists will observe the way you communicate as a couple as well as how you react to your partner’s words.

Don’t expect to build a trusting relationship with your counselor after just one session. Also, do not worry about the therapist “picking sides.” Therapists who are certified in providing Gottman Therapy and Gottman Couples Workshops will often tell you that they are “on the side of the relationship,” meaning their main intent is to help your relationship with healing and improvement.

Keep an open mind and continue with counseling, even when sessions get awkward. The rewards of counseling will come if you are patient.

It is important to note, however, that the first therapy session is a two-way assessment. If you don’t feel comfortable with the therapist, you are welcome to try another counselor who may better fit you.

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Setting Goals

In the first few sessions, you will set goals as a couple and as individuals. The therapist will guide you to establish goals based on what you want for your relationship. 

The ultimate goal of couple therapy is not always to stay in a relationship. Sometimes, divorce is the best option for both partners. That is an option to discuss in therapy. The counselor will never push you to stay or leave the partnership. Instead, they will help you examine your relationship and your needs.

Homework After First Session

You may see big progress during therapy sessions. Your counselor will suggest you work on certain aspects of your patterns of behavior or give you a simple assignment such as planning and going on a date.

If you are really committed to improving your relationship, then put in the time and energy to complete your homework. Your therapist will say that successful therapy takes “work” – physical, mental and emotional. Do the work!

The Bottom Line:

If you are hesitant about committing to couples therapy, a great alternative is attending a Gottman Couples Workshop.  These workshops will allow you to become familiarized with couples therapy concepts and the language your therapist will use. 

Check out the details of this workshop here.

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