If your marriage isn’t as amazing as you believe it could be, I can help you and your spouse identify areas of improvement and ways to restore and enhance your connection with your spouse.
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Who is Couples Counseling For?
Couples counseling is intended for two people in a committed relationship that are interested in strengthening that relationship. This may mean that the couple is in a great place and want their relationship to be even better or perhaps there are things that are “just not working” in the relationship that they want to address. Please continue reading to learn more about when you should consider couples counseling as well as what to expect and how to prepare.
If you are married and wanting to work on your marital relationship, please read more about marriage counseling.
When Should You Consider Couples Counseling?
Couples counseling is a great idea whether you are currently experiencing a crisis or if you are just ready for more in your relationship. Some common reasons couples consider counseling are:
If just one of these areas is impacting your relationship, it’s enough to get started in counseling.
How Should You Choose a Couples Counselor?
A great place to start is a referral from someone you trust and who knows you well. If that isn’t an option, it’s a great idea to create a list of the things that are important to you and your partner, your respective needs, and your preferences in a counselor or counseling environment.
Some of the more basic parts of your list might be an acceptable price range, convenient location, and availability. More important are the counselor’s level of experience with your set of issues, their style of communication/ the *way* they share their input, and the spiritual values and principles that guide the counselor.
A few sample questions you might want to answer as you make your list and consider the kind of couples counselor you want to work with:
Your list can guide you in your very first interaction with the counselor (typically a relatively brief (~10-15 minute free phone call that is intended to give a couple the opportunity to see if this counselor is a good fit). The introductory phone call can yield a lot of clarity, especially if you are assertive with your questions. It may feel invasive to ask personal questions of the counselor but you are entrusting him with your relationship which is incredibly valuable. Don’t hesitate to ask away!
Also, if the fit seems right after your initial call but the price is too high, it’s appropriate to ask early on regarding any option to receive a reduced price. Don’t let that hold you back from getting the breakthrough waiting for you on the other side of couples counseling.
How Do You Prepare For Couples Counseling?
It is generally helpful to identify a goal or goals for your counseling before you get started. You’ll likely see these grow and change over time but starting with some concrete objectives can really help make sure you don’t leave without getting those things addressed. Not only will this help the counselor know where to focus initially during your sessions but you’ll also be able to more clearly see the “before and after” of your time in counseling and get the value you want out of this experience.
What Should You Expect From Couples Counseling?
With the right counselor, from day one you should experience a comfortable and engaging interaction with your counselor. After the initial welcome, your counselor may ask you what your goals are for counseling or generally what is bringing you in that day. This is where coming with your goals/objectives ready can be really helpful.
That said, if you are in crisis and just know you need help – that’s really all you need to get started! Throughout counseling, you should expect your counselor to be able to communicate with you respectfully, compassionately, with insight drawn from their experience and education in an environment with zero shame attached to your conversation, your past, or your present.
You should expect there to be times where it might be difficult to address or acknowledge certain things that may come up but know that you are in trustworthy hands to help guide you through those sticking points and into the breakthrough you are after.
Counseling is essentially a conversation in which one party is not just listening as a friend or loved one would but as someone uniquely qualified to turn a conversation into an opportunity for your growth and/or healing. Your counselor will listen, gain an understanding of your situation, and break down your experience into manageable “bite-size” pieces to focus on and address these with you and your partner.
Is Couples Counseling Really Worth It?
With couples counseling, like many things in life, you will largely get out of it what you put into it. This is not to say you won’t be given remarkable and applicable wisdom, advice, tools, techniques, and resources – you WILL! The question really lies in how much of what you are given you are willing to put into practice. If you implement the counsel you are given by a skilled counselor, your life CAN be radically changed for the better!
Ultimately, the value in counseling is found in the increased quality of life and relationship you experience after working with your counselor. If you are ready for – or NEED – change and you are willing to “show up” for yourself and for your partner, you are an excellent candidate to experience that benefit!
Do Both People Have to Attend Couples Counseling?
Let me take some pressure off and acknowledge that if even just one person in the relationship is ready to engage in intentional growth through individual counseling, that can pay huge dividends for a couple. Also, the person that begins first can often lay the groundwork for the other spouse to join in.
It’s not unusual that one member of a couple is more invested and hopeful in the counseling process than the other.
However, both spouses will ultimately need to engage and be part of marital counseling to get the best outcomes. Since it takes two to create a relational problem, it takes two to solve it, even when one spouse appears more at fault. The good news is that when both members of a couple choose to engage couples counseling, not only will you be able to start more effectively tackling the points of strain between you but each partner will also change and grow individually over the course of the process.