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How can I prepare for my first Couple’s Counselling session?

How can I prepare for my first Couple’s Counselling session?

A couple’s counselling can be so intimidating. We often see couples come into their first session seeming defeated, embarrassed, and hopeless. First of all, let’s get rid of the stigma! Couple’s counselling can benefit most couples. We can all agree that there are things we can improve when it comes to connecting, relating, communicating, understanding, and loving our partners. So now that we can kick embarrassment and shame out the window, let us talk about how you can prepare for that first session so that it doesn’t seem so daunting.

Courtney Bell, MA (R. Psych)

You do not need to know where to begin

Often people come into counselling and feel the need to know where to start. Let me take that pressure off of you! As psychologists, we are trained to ask you specific and meaningful questions that will help us get to the heart of the matter in your relationship. Your relationship is like a big puzzle and it is the psychologist's job to gather the pieces and begin to put that puzzle together until it starts to make sense (along with your help of course, but don’t feel the need to lead; let us do the leading if you are feeling unsure).

What connected you to your partner in the first place

Often psychologists will ask you to start that first session off by explaining how you met and what made you fall in love. This gives us a feel for how it all began and, in a sense, gives us a snapshot of what you might be missing in your relationship now that some time has gone by. It is normal for the intensity of those feelings from the early days of your relationship to dissipate and fluctuate. So, this question helps couples to reminisce on the “good ole days”, sparking those old feelings of love and chemistry that first brought you together.

What isn’t working anymore?

This is the meat and potatoes of that first session… obviously! This is your moment to share what you feel frustrated, sad, hurt, or even hopeless about in your relationship. What do you feel isn’t working? Or what do you feel needs to change in order for the relationship to course correct? What obstacles or outside circumstances might be currently affecting your relationship?

How have your past relationships influenced your current relationship?

Our past shapes our present. This question will challenge you to go deeper. Have you noticed any repetitive relational patterns in the family you grew up in? Have you noticed any repetitive relational patterns in your past romantic relationships? A couple’s counselling is often about interrupting rigid patterns of relating and finding new ways to communicate. The past can help increase self-awareness and insight so that we can begin to learn new ways of engaging with our partners.

Has anything helped you get back on track before?

Let’s not throw out the things that have worked in the past to reconnect you to your partner. Psychologists might have some education and training but you are the experts on your relationship. Bring that to the table as you brainstorm with your psychologist about what might be helpful in moving your relationship in the right direction.

What do you hope to get out of the couple’s counselling?

This question is all about goals and results. Although there might be a journey ahead of you as a couple, start to think about the end result of counselling. Where do you want to end up as a couple when these sessions come to an end? What do you hope will be different about your connection and your communication? These questions will inform your psychologist as they collaborate with you on a treatment plan for your relationship. Ultimately, it reveals the destination.

Of course, not every psychologist will formally ask you these questions in the first or following sessions. It is important to note that every psychologist has a different approach and may do things differently than what is outlined here. However, these questions can help you prepare by giving you some specific things to think about as you move towards communicating and expressing how you are feeling about your relationship. Most importantly, my hope is that this will help anchor you as you courageously step into that first couple’s counselling session.

If you are interested in exploring couple’s counselling further, click here to book your free 20-minute consultation

Featured FAQs Section Title

If you both wish to address concerns and improve your relationship you should try couples counselling. As part of the strategy to help you build your relationship, we may meet with each of you individually throughout the process. And of course, if either of you wishes to do some exploration of issues on your own, outside of your relationship framework, we are available to help you find mental wellness in every aspect of your life.  

Please note - if your therapist recommends individual therapy in addition to couples work, there's a chance they may not be able to see one (or both) of you due to privacy and consent.  Our team is able to help navigate you through that and fit you with an appropriate therapist.

Sometimes one partner may be resistant to therapy as a tool to improve your relationship. This can be frustrating and discouraging. But we would encourage you to seek counselling on your own if you are struggling with challenges affecting your relationship, even if your partner does not attend. Even if only one partner begins exploring obstacles to a healthy relationship and tools to help improve the connection, both people can benefit. And sometimes if the resistant partner sees the change and resilience developing in the partner in therapy, they may become more open to participating.

Your Partner In Wellness

Your Partner In Wellness

Refresh Counselling is committed to providing the most elevated mental health services to our patients in at either of our locations in Calgary and across Alberta. We promise to meet you where you are, provide insight and a safe space, and help you get to where you want to be. Take advantage of our complimentary consultation to connect with a psychologist who can be your expert guide as you journey towards mental health and well-being. Book now in Jane, our virtual system.

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