Many folks who undergo couples counselling sessions, particularly on their first visit, may feel intimidated, awkward or indeed, stuck.
It’s tough to talk about yourself and your inner issues and it can be even harder to talk about them in front of your partner, particularly if those issues feel as though they revolve around certain behaviours they may have.
Firstly, I want to assure you to relax. In my sessions, we create a space of equality, calm and clarity, where each individual can speak and be heard, and all issues are dealt with rationally and without excessive or overhyped emotion, as can sometimes be the case if you try to work through things by yourself. You are here because you want a harmonious relationship and that is the aim of our sessions. As such, we create an environment that supports that.
Your First Couples Counselling Sessions
It’s perfectly natural to approach this first session with trepidation and nervousness. Remember though, this is primarily a meeting for us to get to know each other and put any problems you want ironed out on the table. As a qualified, certified gestalt therapist, I am trained to avoid personal bias at all times, so you should never fear that there is any judgement in the room.
We will use this time to set ground rules and boundaries for your therapeutic journey. We will discuss guidelines around confidentiality, mandatory reporting and what methodologies I use when I work with couples on relationship issues.
From here, I generally take a brief history from you, covering the issues or problems that are bringing you to counselling, as well as a history of your relationship. I may ask questions like:
- What issues have you been experiencing and for how long?
- Have you ever been in relationship counselling before?
- What have you and your partner done to try to resolve these issues?
- What are your expectations of couples counselling?
This first session serves really as information gathering, to set the path for the journey ahead. However, I do find that real and meaningful issues are often discussed and worked in this session too.
Your Second Session And Beyond
Typically, both partners will attend sessions together, which helps establish an association that is clearly about you and your relationship. Perhaps it may be beneficial to see you individually, in turn, before meeting up again as a couple but this is rare and not done without full permission and disclosure to each party.
Developing trust with me as your therapist is important, as I want you to feel comfortable and safe talking about personal or difficult issues. As a professional and ethical counsellor, I ensure that each individual has opportunity to tell their side surrounding issues you are struggling with.
Methods may include:
- openly discussing difficult topics;
- sharing feelings;
- discussing behavioural and communication patterns
- Exploring techniques to help you navigate and possibly improve communication methods;
- role playing;
- Discussion around childhood and family history; and
- highlighting discrepancies in your and your partner’s behaviours, communication styles and goals – both individual and as a couple
I may request that you practice tasks between sessions in order to help with your journey. Self reflection of communication styles, responses, beliefs, and feeling associated with events that may have disrupted your week.
If you have never attended couples counselling before, you will naturally be nervous. However, after a while, you will relax into the session, as we get to know each other and any issues you both may have.
I encourage you to ask any questions about the techniques we will employ, my experience and indeed how I can help you. Yes, couples counselling can be daunting at first, but most couples find that their relationship benefits if they enter with an open mind and am eagerness to work towards a common goal. Support is available to overcome conflict and distress, with the hope that these benefits will last long after your counselling is done.