You’ve decided to begin couples therapy, or you are already in treatment, and you want to maximize the benefit of counseling.
I am a couples’ therapist in Santa Rosa, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley. My couples are usually busy people, often working in hi tech, and they don’t want to stay with me forever, however much they enjoy my company. :<) I ask my clients to answer the following 3 questions. Thinking about these things speeds progress, and the tips are useful for pretty much everyone.
1. Think – Why are you in therapy? If you can define your objective, you have taken a big step. For example; are you hoping to decrease fighting? To have better sex? To parent as partners? To communicate better with your significant other? To recover and build trust after a betrayal?
2. What kind of partner do you want to become? Few people would walk into a business meeting without some preparation regarding what they want/need to accomplish. Think of your therapy sessions as being about the business of your relationship. Doesn’t it deserve your time and attention to figuring out what kind of partner you want to be?
3. What do you need to work on in order to improve how you show up as a partner? Many people have a casual answer to that question, such as “communication”, but have not really considered the question more deeply, such as “I need to improve how I communicate when I’m angry” or “I want to learn how to say what I want”.
In couples counseling, I help my clients to answer these questions in the first few sessions. I help you identify what to do, and I’ll teach you how to do it. If you feel able and willing to proceed, the middle phase of our work together will move along – a bump in the road here, a few ups and downs are typical – but you will practice and have progressive success, and we will get to the final phase where we will be able to define how you have changed the way you react to your partner, and they to you!
The hardest part will be where you accept that you have to change your response to your partner – understanding the pattern of responses, finding out what underlies those responses, and correcting the patterns.
How you think about change will be very important. Change is tough. For most people, change, while longed for, is scary. Of course it’s scary! What lies ahead is unknown.
Consider this; the space between beginning change and landing on the other side is where you get to decide how you want to be. That is exciting!