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What To Expect In Couples Therapy

Jonathan Riley

“A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.” – Pearl S. Buck

“What to expect in couples therapy?” Is an important question you may be asking yourselves if you have never done it before. Therapy in general may seem overwhelming, as you know it can drudge up feelings that you have been trying to keep dormant for a long time. Add your partner in the mix and it can feel even more daunting as you both feel uncomfortable feelings. Couples can feel nervous about the process bringing to light that they are not meant to be together. All reasons for feeling nervous about reaching out and exploring couples therapy are completely valid and incredibly common.

What to Expect in Couples Therapy:

Your therapist will be direct (way more direct than what you may have encountered in individual therapy).

This is because we have to be able to help the two of you navigate the intricate dance of your conflict style and we cannot be helpful in getting to your goals if we aren’t incredibly directive. Your therapist should be willing to direct the sessions to help you both experience a different way to communicate with each other.

If you’re working with My Practice, expect that we will see you both for one 50-minute individual session on week 2.

This is because we honour both of you equally and we find it is important to assess the whole person in addition to the relationship. We like to understand how you view the world and where you have come from that has helped shape this view. This individual session is not meant to be a time to just express grievances about your partner; it is intended to getting to know each of you on a more individualised level. This helps us better understand your language, point of view and triggers when we encounter them in couples therapy.

You both will equally feel heard, validated and respected, (and yes, even if one of you “messed up.”)

Your therapist, will always see you objectively. This means, we aren’t here to point fingers or take sides. Regardless of what brings you into therapy, we are here to help the two of you understand each other.

You will learn tools to better communicate… eventually.

It can take a lot of time to heal, reconnect and/or effectively communicate. Often times, we are unpacking subconscious childhood issues that have caused barriers in your current relationship. We are working on creating a level of trust that most likely neither of you have experienced before. So please be patient with the process and don’t expect immediate results.

Expect a focus on the process in which the two of you relate to each other. Not a focus on the “he-said/she-said” content of rehashing the same argument over and over again.

This is because we are here to support you both in restructuring the way the two of you communicate and relate to each other in the bigger picture. Although content in arguments can be important and sometimes what we discuss, it won’t be the constant focal point because it truly gets us no where.

You’ll feel exposed.

Couples therapy is a vulnerable process and you may not always feel fully comfortable letting your guard down. This is normal! We will guide you.

Expect to argue in front of your couples therapist.

It is OK to argue in front of your couples therapist sometimes and know that it’s actually helpful for us to see how the two of you communicate. This is when we will often jump in to help slow things down and de-escalate the situation and help the two of you be more vulnerable.

Expect the couples therapist to interrupt you.

Part of our job is to help hold you both (lovingly) accountable for your unconscious actions, as well help the two of you process your emotions and pain effectively. We may interrupt you because we want to help the two of you discover your vulnerabilities, not just sit with your defensiveness and unprocessed reactions.

If you’re interested in scheduling a free 15-minute consultation with us, book online today.