If you and your partner are considering couples’ therapy, you may be wondering what you can do to make your sessions as effective as possible. While showing up with an open mind is one of the simplest yet most powerful things you can do to support meaningful change in your relationship, there are a few other strategies you and your partner can practice to optimize the results of your counseling. Each therapist will have their own specific recommendations based on the couple’s unique circumstances, but here are a few general pointers for getting the most from therapy.
5 Ways to Get More from Couples’ Therapy Sessions
1. Set Your Objectives
Something prompted you to seek out professional help, so having a clear idea as to why you’re there will allow your therapist to devise strategies to help you. For example, if you’re fighting more frequently, your goal for therapy could be to find ways to communicate and work through differences without resorting to mean-spirited arguments. Having clear objectives will lay the foundation for successful sessions that are conducive to improvement.
2. Think About the Steps Needed to Get There
This is where your therapist will come in. Oftentimes, couples know something needs to change, but aren’t sure how they can get there with their partner. Ultimately, it will likely require some behavioral modifications on both individuals’ parts. There may be many steps required to build the relationship you want. To support the best outcomes, both partners should go in knowing that there may be some deviations from their comfort zones as well as an investment of time and effort needed to enact real change.
3. Focus on Your Own Behaviors
Ultimately, you can’t force someone else to change. What you do have control over, however, is how you approach situations. Becoming a more effective partner is the best way to improve a relationship, and this often involves reframing expectations. Of course, that isn’t to say that your partner shouldn’t work on their own behaviors—it simply means each individual must focus on changing what they bring to the relationship, as this is what will ultimately lead to positive outcomes.
4. Check In to Measure Progress
While it’s perfectly fine to use counseling sessions to work through a specific obstacle, try to resist the urge to focus on your most recent fight during every visit. Instead, once you begin making progress, use this time to evaluate how far you’ve come in meeting your original goals. This will help you stay focused and on track towards bettering your relationship.
If you’re seeking ways to strengthen your relationship, Chuck Beardsley LCSW can help. Specializing in couples’ therapy, Chuck offers a welcoming environment in which partners learn to overcome differences while maintaining respect and understanding. His overarching goal is to provide each couple with a road map for working through tough issues, along with the tools needed to get there successfully. Learn more about his approach to couples’ counseling here or schedule an appointment by calling (908) 274-3189.