I imagine we’ve all heard that classic saying, “Marriage is hard work.” Well, there is truth to that statement. Establishing, cultivating, and maintaining a healthy relationship takes work. Plus, it takes commitment, patience, understanding, compromise, communication, sacrifice, and so much more.
And every now and then, a marriage needs assistance… and that’s alright. Receiving couples therapy is nothing to shy away from or be embarrassed about, although it is often perceived as some sort of shameful endeavor that others shouldn’t know of.
But in fact, attending couples therapy is a sign of strength. It’s an outward action that shows you want to achieve something more within your relationship. You want to improve, change, grow, adapt, and refine what you have with your partner. What a worthwhile venture!
Couples therapy is for anyone and everywhere, from seasoned couples to newlyweds. For some of our clients, meeting with a therapist might be familiar territory. For others, it might be a totally new concept. If that sounds like you, it’s completely normal to want to know what to expect from couples therapy.
How Does Couples Therapy Work?
Here at Williamsburg Therapy Group, our goal is to provide a safe environment where couples can meet with a trained professional to discuss their needs and wants. We hope to see couples build stronger relationships, and we are here to facilitate that growth.
In order to accomplish this, couples therapy begins with a few basic steps.
Get To Know You
We want to be able to give couples personalized guidance and individualized techniques that can improve their partnership. This means we must get to know you - you as an individual and as a partner in a relationship.
Those beginning sessions might feel less like therapy and more like a game of 20 questions, but don’t be discouraged by the slow start. Therapy is coming!
The Whole Story
That initial assessment phase is also a time when your therapist needs to learn more about your history together as a couple. Learning about the past sets a foundation for the future.
It’s that history that explains what made you a couple, what brought you together, and what most likely encouraged you to seek couples therapy. This means you should come prepared to share details that can help your therapist understand where you’ve been and, ultimately, where you’d like to go.
Types of Sessions and Frequency
Therapy looks different for every couple. What works for one couple might not be the best solution for another, so that’s where our job comes into play.
Together with your therapist, you will come up with a game plan. You need to determine how often you will meet, such as once a week, twice a week, or maybe every other week.
Also, you need to decide whether to include individual sessions alongside your couple's sessions. More often than not, you will meet with your therapist together as a couple, but one-on-one sessions serve a purpose as well. Some couples even find family therapy sessions with their children to be helpful.
Goal Setting and a Treatment Plan
During this beginning stage, it is normal to want to know what to expect from couples therapy. After all, entering the unknown can be nerve-racking.
Couples therapy is a means to an end, though. It is not meant to go on forever. Rather, therapy is a resource that sets you up for long-term success on your own. You take the skills learned in therapy and use them in your everyday interactions as a couple.
Setting goals as part of a treatment plan is a critical component of therapy. Goals are measurable stepping stones designed to help you implement those newfound abilities into your life.
Homework and Follow-Through
Yep, therapy comes with homework. Goals act as a road map, guiding your actions and behaviors.
So once you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to put that plan into action. Therapy will only work as good as your follow-through. Don’t be surprised if you receive a homework assignment (or two) as part of your couple's therapy journey.
How to Prepare for Your First Couples Therapy Session
Now that you’ve read about the basics of what to expect from couples therapy, remember that the real work begins once you cross that starting line.
By researching more about this therapy option, you are on the right track! Now it’s time to tie up those laces and get ready for a race.
Couples therapy is not a quick sprint, though. It’s one of those slow and steady undertakings where consistent effort pays off.
For your first therapy session, come with a willingness to be open-minded. Be ready to be honest and vulnerable. Mentally prepare to encounter some tough moments as you dive deep into your relationship as a couple.
But also… come excited to undergo a positive change within yourself. Be ready to be productive. Mentally prepare to stretch and grow in new and wonderful ways.
Worthwhile endeavors take work, and we are ready to walk that path with you.