couples therapy FAQ
What can we expect in our first couple session?
In our first session together, we will begin an initial assessment. I will ask each of you about the conflicts and issues that you are facing, the impacts that they are having on you (and the relationship) and begin to explore how the issue/conflict may reflect core relationship problems. We will also have a chance to discuss any questions you might have about me, my therapeutic approach, or my practice policies.
And in subsequent sessions?
As we work together we will start to identify the challenging cycles and patterns in the relationship, develop and awareness of how each partner is contributing to these cycles, and explore the historical origins of your reactions. As we better understand the sensitivities and vulnerabilities that each partner is facing, we can also work together to better understand the experience of the other, express our needs in the relationship, and determine new patterns of behavior.
How often will we meet?
Initially, I suggest weekly sessions as we build an understanding of the issues you are facing, develop open and safe communication, and determine what will make for an effective course of therapy. As you and your partner move into an understanding of the issue and ways it can be resolved, we may transition into bi-weekly sessions.
Does it make sense to come to couple therapy if I am thinking of leaving the relationship?
Oftentimes, when a couple arrives to therapy, the relationship has been in a troubled state for quite some time. When a relationship is in a crisis state, it is not uncommon for one or both partners to be questioning whether they want to remain in the relationship. I feel that therapy is valuable when one (or both) partners are considering ending the relationship, just as there is value in working together to see if the relationship can be salvaged. Whether you choose to recommit to the relationship or decide to move towards a respectful ending, clear communication is paramount; therapy can help partners to work through difficult conversations, consider their options, and align themselves in an understanding of next steps.
Our relationship is relatively new. If we are considering couples counselling at this stage, does this mean the relationship is doomed?
Not at all. Sometimes a new relationship comes to an end not because it doesn’t have the potential to go the distance, but because the people in the relationship haven’t yet developed the skill set to navigate conflict or communicate what they want and need from each other. Coming to therapy in the beginning stages of a relationship serves as a way to proactively work together to better understand boundaries, communication styles, values, and hopes for the future relationship.
I want to come to therapy to work on our relationship, but my partner does not. Can this still work?
Perhaps. In order for effective couple therapy, both partners need to be engaged in the process and willing to take responsibility for their part in the relationship problems. Having said that, there are many misconceptions about couples counselling. Your partner may worry that the therapist will take sides or that they will be blamed for the relationship problems. Perhaps they are concerned that they won’t know how to “do” therapy. Regardless of how prepared either partner is to enter into therapy, I am here to guide the process, help everyone feel at ease, and provide a safe space to open up communication. Most importantly, I bring an unbiased perspective and the willingness to meet both partners wherever they are at in the relationship or the therapeutic process.