Have you ever heard the phrase “two’s company, three’s a crowd?” this may be true in monogamous relationships, but sometimes a third party is necessary for relationships. And by a third party, we mean a couples therapist. Even the best relationship will have some rocky patches, and sometimes the best way to get everything out in the open and move on from your issues is with shared therapy. But, what really happens in couples therapy?
Many couples consider couples therapy but don’t go for it because they aren’t sure what to expect from a session. Will one person be attacked or shamed? Will it be a session full of yelling? Will it draw up unnecessary hurt? The answers to these questions may surprise you. Here is what really happens in couples therapy.
Why people are skeptical
You may be hesitant to go to couples therapy if you have difficulty opening up about your personal problems. But, in order for couples therapy to be effective, you must open up.
Many couples are also skeptical of therapy, thinking that the therapist will not provide equal treatment or that they will be told to go on medication. The truth is, your counselor is not a psychiatrist, so they will not be prescribing you any medications or throwing mental diagnoses’ your way. The point of couple’s therapy is to get your issues out in the open, learn how to treat one another better, and then move on from what is ailing your relationship.
What really happens in couples therapy?
If you are in couples therapy, odds are you have had a traumatic event in your relationship, or perhaps you are just not getting along anymore. Your counselor will help you work through such emotions as betrayal, depression, resentment, and anger. Here is what happens over the course of several sessions with a relationship therapist.
You can attend couples therapy alone
If your partner is unwilling to attend therapy, a couple’s counselor will still see you individually. This can help you personally with how to handle the behavior of your partner and teach you how to better yourself so you can have a healthier relationship. After a while, your partner may decide to attend the session with you. For better, they are learning how to make your relationship more successful and at the very least they are making sure your therapist is hearing from both parties in the relationship.
Both are given time to talk
Some couples may be hesitant to attend couples therapy with the assumption that the counselor will take one side or the other. This is not the case. Your marriage counselor is an unbiased mediator who will listen to each side equally. They will offer couples an even playing field to express their grievances. Your couple’s therapy should leave you feeling free to express yourself. Your counselor will also make sure neither of you is taking cruel shots at one another, focusing the conversation on the real issues.
If you are angry with each other, it could be that your hurt feelings stem deeper than your husband not taking out the trash or your wife texting you constantly. Your counselor will be able to get to the root of your issues and bring underlying issues to the surface – ones you may not have even known were there.
Past issues with drugs, alcohol, emotional, physical, and verbal abuse, or childhood trauma are important factors in how you behave in your relationship. Your therapist will likely pick up on these things and strive to help you work through them, possibly separately from your couples counseling.
Your therapist gets to know you both
After a number of sessions your therapist will have a better idea of who you are as individuals and how you operate as a couple. This will give your counselor a better idea of what to suggest you moving forward and how to put aside your differences, get over from a traumatic issue, or whether or not they think you should be together at all at the given time.
Learn how to treat one another with respect
Better behavior. During couples therapy your therapist’s goal is to bring you back to the love and lust you felt when you were first dating. Your therapist will state the obvious by reminding you to be considerate and to treat one another like partners, not enemies or nags. Your counselor will be able to take your attention away from the little things and refocus on what is important for your marriage.
A cathartic session
Many find couples counseling to be a cathartic experience. Being able to say all the things you have been bottling up from your partner in a controlled environment helps many couples draw closer together. It also helps relieve relationship stress.
Goals for the future
As your therapist gets to know you, they will be able to create a list of relationship goals for you to fulfill. This may include learning to trust one another, managing conflict, seeing your lover as your partner and not your enemy, sharing admiration, or whatever your therapist thinks you need to work on. As you complete these tasks your therapist will add new goals.
As therapy comes to an end
If you feel that your sessions have drawn the two of you close together and want to end them, your therapist will give you a long-term plan of how to remain close and unified while you are not in therapy. This will help you move forward together, acknowledge warning signs, and handle conflict responsibly all while continuing to make goals and take positive steps forward.
When it comes to fixing your relationship, never feel like you can’t reach out to a counselor for help, goal-mapping, and planning for your future. Couples therapy is a helpful tool designed to keep couples strong, happy, and aware of what the other one needs. If you truly want to stay with your partner, you owe it to them and to yourself to take positive steps forward.