Relationship Therapy: How to Get the Most out of Couples Counseling
Couples therapy is a great idea for any couple no matter how strong their relationship is. In fact, counseling has been shown to be around 75% effective overall.
However, in order for it to work, you have to take certain steps and be in the right mindset. However, if you’re new to therapy, how can you know what steps you need to take?
That’s why we’ve created this guide outlining how you can get the most out of relationship therapy. Keep reading to discover more.
Commit to the Process
First and foremost, you both need to commit to the counseling experience. If one of you is on the fence, it makes it all a lot harder.
No matter the state of your relationship, you need to give therapy your best effort, but this might feel easier said than done. Lots of couples are dealing with frustration, anger, and resentment.
If this is the case, you’ll need to make a conscious choice to learn how to work through those feelings and commit to working on your relationship. As you do this, you’ll see these issues start to resolve.
The therapy process can take time, so don’t give up if it’s not working perfectly right away. Instead, you will learn how to build trust as a couple and lower your emotional walls that keep you from connecting with each other.
The result? You can remove criticism and defensiveness from your marriage counseling sessions, helping you achieve greater success.
Prioritize Your Sessions
Life is busy. Work, school, kids, hobbies, and social activities all take time on your schedule.
Since life can be so hectic, it can be hard to make time for relationship therapy appointments. However, in order for your couples counseling to work, you need to prioritize your appointments with your therapist.
The truth about therapy is that it takes time. As nice as it would be to flip a switch to fix all of your emotional and relationship issues, that’s not how it works.
Instead, it takes time, making small positive changes along the way. Then, with time, you’ll start to recognize progress.
It can also take some effort to prioritize your sessions financially. If you fall into this category, sit down with your partner to see where you can fit it in your budget. You can also adjust the number of visits each month to better accommodate your needs.
Open Your Mind
Next, you may need to change your mindset.
Often, couples approach marriage counseling after years of conflict and multiple attempts at fixing their problems.
Perhaps you’ve done research online about how to improve your relationship. You’ve probably had more conversations than you can count with your partner about your relationship. Maybe you’ve talked with friends or family members looking for advice.
At this point, it’s common to feel hopeless about everything, including therapy.
If this is the case, you need to remember that there is hope and that therapy can help. It’s important for you to adjust your mindset.
Remember that therapists use evidence-based methods that have helped millions of couples. If you are patient and open to change, then you’ll see great results.
Focus on Changing Yourself
We’ve all been there before. It’s much easier to criticize someone else rather than ourselves, and this is true in couples therapy as well.
In order for your counseling experience to work though, you should focus on changing yourself instead of changing your partner. At the end of the day, you can’t change your spouse and they can’t change you. You can both only change your own behavior.
Keep in mind that modifying your behavior, words and actions takes humility and self-control. It’s much easier to criticize someone else’s behavior than to change your own.
Make a conscious choice to focus on your own behavior because this is how real change occurs.
Complete Your Homework
Your therapy appointments are incredibly important. Also, what you do outside of the counseling office is even more important. Will you apply the things you’re learning in your sessions?
While you’re in your therapy session, it’s easy to apply what you’re learning, but what about late at night when you’re tired, burnt out, and easily agitated? These are the moments when you’ll need to really apply what you’re learning.
In many cases, your therapist will assign you things to complete after your appointments. Depending on your situation, your counselor will recommend different activities that will strengthen your relationship.
Maybe you’ll be asked to practice self-care every single day. Perhaps you’ll need to spend 15 minutes a day asking each other open-ended questions (which is a great idea since 43% of couples who get divorced did so because of lack of communication). Or you could be asked to go on a date every single weekend.
No matter what homework your therapist assigns you, the important thing is that you do it.
Keep in mind that the key principle here is that practice makes perfect. As you actually do the things you’re discussing, your habits will become second nature, resulting in a happier relationship for both you and your partner.
Final Thoughts about Getting the Most Out of Relationship Therapy
There you have it: 5 tips to help you and your partner get the most out of your relationship therapy. Next, it’s time to apply these things in your life.
Remember that going to therapy is incredibly rewarding. Even if it’s hard to start, you’ll be so glad you did in the end and your relationship will end up much stronger than it was before.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont and Florida. She also works with international couples and expats. With her support, you can learn how to discuss relationship problems without fighting through an intensive marriage retreat or couples counseling. Reach out to Lisa for a 20-minute free private consultation today.