How to Get the Most Out of Couples Counseling

Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

So, you’ve decided to seek couples counseling. Maybe your relationship is getting rough and neither of you knows how to move forward. Whatever you’re experiencing, couples counseling can improve your relationship and build healthier bonds.

Preparing for counseling before arriving will get you ready for what’s to come. Setting goals, finding a therapist, and thinking ahead can all set you up for success. However, there’s a lot you should be doing while attending couples therapy to get the most out of it.

What to Do During Therapy

While you and your partner are in couples counseling sessions, it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time. If you follow these tips, your time with couples therapy will be more beneficial for you and your partner.

Be Honest With Your Therapist

Through the years of your relationship or marriage, there may be quiet resentments and unsaid problems. Couples therapy helps identify these obstacles—but only if you’re willing to be honest throughout the process.

Hidden thoughts are often what creates rifts in marriage to begin with. To get the most out of couples counseling, you have to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings—even if you’re worried they could hurt someone else's feelings.

Without knowing how you’re feeling, your partner won’t be able to relate to you better. If their behaviors are causing resentment or negativity for you, they most likely don’t know unless you let them know.

Opening up about how you feel will improve your relationship by letting your partner know that you trust them. Your partner can’t read your mind—you’re responsible to speak it. 

Work On Yourself - Not Your Partner

While attending therapy, it may be easy to focus on things your partner does that annoy you. That’s not the point of couples counseling. 

Even though you’re in a relationship, you’re still your own person, and the only person you can control is yourself. 

Any problem in a relationship is rarely one-sided. For example, one person may have a problem with how many things their partner owns without recognizing that they care more about their stuff than their partner’s.

There may be a time during your therapy sessions to air out your laundry but know that the only person you’re responsible for is you.

To get the most out of couples therapy, go into it planning to work on improving yourself. While you can tell them how their behavior makes you feel, you can’t control their actions. You can control yours.

to get the most out of couple's counseling, focus on fixing yourself instead of your partner

Slow Down

This isn’t a well-known tip. However, slowing down during therapy sessions will give you space to think about your thoughts and consider what your partner is saying.

Talking less will help your partner feel heard. Listening to your partner is an important part of any relationship. If your partner feels like you aren’t listening to them, they’ll likely become frustrated. 

Slowing down doesn’t just refer to listening and digesting what’s being said. It’s also important to not expect fast fixes for your relationship issues. Depending on the length of your relationship and the depth of your issues, it could take a long time before you start to notice improvement. 

Related article: How Long Does Therapy Last?

Consider Outside Pressures

Relationship problems aren’t always internal. Outside influences exist in any relationship—negative and positive. During therapy, you should bring up any outside influences that are affecting your relationship.

There may be things to work through regarding these pressures. Perhaps in-laws are putting unknown pressure on your partner, friends are negatively influencing you, or work stress is building.

Your counselor can help you understand how you could approach these situations together, such as setting new and healthy boundaries with people outside of the relationship.

Related Article: What to do When You Have Family Issues

Be Active And Ask Questions

If something doesn’t make sense to you or you’re interested in learning more, ask questions of your partner or your therapist. Being active during counseling and asking questions will improve your time together.

Some questions may come across as defensive or accusatory. Before asking questions, make sure you consider why you’re asking the question and if it would be helpful for the overall conversation.

To get the most out of couple's counseling, be active during discussions in therapy sessions.

Outside of Therapy 

Couples therapists will likely ask you to do some homework in between sessions. To make sure you and your partner are getting the most out of therapy, follow these tips.

Do Your Homework

Your counselor will likely want the people within the relationship to do some homework between sessions—do it. It’s a simple way you can improve your time in couples counseling. This homework will likely be practicing skills couples learned during therapy, or activities the counselor thinks will help the couple.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a good practice no matter if you’re in therapy or not. It helps you connect your emotions, thoughts, and physical feelings. Mindfulness can be practiced in several ways. You could:

Practicing mindfulness will make you more aware of your thoughts and how you’re reacting to therapy. This will help you apply what you learned during sessions.

Make A List of Things To Talk About

Throughout the week, think about what you’re working on in sessions, and write down any thoughts or feelings you experience when reflecting on them.

This will make your sessions more productive because you’ll be bringing topics to discuss in each session.

Consider Individual Therapy

Couples therapy works well for couples who want to improve their relationship. However, it might not be the best place to work through your individual mental health struggles.

Couples counseling may not be the best place for you to work through personal struggles. In some instances, it may be a good idea to begin individual counseling in tandem with couples counseling.

Related article: Resolving Relationship Issues 

Couples Counseling For Any Relationship

Inner Balance offers relationship counseling for non-monogamous and monogamous relationships alike. We seek to offer a wide array of people counseling services that effectively treat mental health.

Couples seeking relationship counseling can find a place where they can be open and honest with each other at Inner Balance. We provide relationship therapy that will be tailored to your needs.

At Inner Balance, you’re not just a number or a dollar sign; you’re a person who deserves to have access to treatment that will actually help you.

Reach out by requesting a consultation and begin your journey toward a healthier relationship.

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

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