How Do I Prepare For My First Couple Counseling Session?
If you are here, it means you care deeply about your relationship and want the best for it. It is a subtle but strong acknowledgment that your relationship could be better with a little external help. It is also an indication that you are reaching out to ask for help.
Remember, couple counseling is not only necessary when you are going through a rough patch in your relationship. It can also be used to rekindle dying embers or to strengthen certain aspects of your relationship. If your first-ever couple counseling session is imminent, then read on to learn about certain preparations you can make to get the most out of the session.
Check to see if there are any prerequisites for the session
Therapists will usually have varying prerequisites for couple counseling sessions. While you prepare for your first session, it is vital that you be aware of the existence of any prerequisites so that you can meet them in good time. Usually, a counselor will send you a text to confirm or remind you about the session, while some will require you to fill out some forms before you start the session. Learning about and meeting these prerequisites will ensure that you don’t waste any time when you walk in for the session.
Define your general pain points
If you have decided to see a counselor, then there are likely problems that you are suffering from. They may be general concerns, but most of the time they will be issues that are unique to your partnership. These form the basis of your pain points for which you will be seeking help from the therapist. Therefore, before walking into the very first session, it is important that you define the general pain points that you would like the therapist to help you deal with. It may take a couple of counseling sessions for the therapist to fully figure out your specific concerns and main reasons for the counseling. Please note that this is something that may keep evolving following the subsequent sessions.
Define the boundaries or the limits that must be respected
Couple therapy will always be unique and there is no single template that can be used for every couple. Since reasons for seeking the sessions are different, and the dynamics of a relationship vary, you should define the boundaries that you wish to be respected throughout the session. It is not only you who will have such boundaries; the counselors will also have limits that they will expect you to respect throughout the counseling sessions. For example, as a couple, you may agree that you are not going to be specific about past partners such as ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. For a variety of reasons, some partners may find such topics to be emotive and may want to steer away from them during sessions.
The counselor, on the other hand, may have limits such as no violence or raising one’s voice during the sessions. If these limits are not respected, the counselor may decide to terminate the treatment immediately.
Be ready to do some work between sessions
It is highly likely that you will be attending more than one counseling session. After the first session, don’t just expect to wait blindly for the next appointment. Some therapists love to give couples some kind of “homework” for them to do before they come in for the next appointment. Others, on the other hand, won’t give any homework, but something for the couple to think about as a summary of the session.
Confirm the mode of payment
It is important that you also understand the modes of payment accepted by your counselor. The last thing you want is to have everything ready for the session only to discover at the very last minute that you don’t have a mode of payment acceptable to the clinic. The easiest way to do this is to simply call your counselor and ask what forms of payment they accept. This is also the time to ask for the specific fees, and to inquire about the session length so that you have an accurate idea of what you will be walking into once the session starts.
Have an open mind toward the counselor’s approach
There are numerous strategies or counseling techniques that Montreal therapists can use to help couples. While planning for your first session, it is important that you understand that a therapist may choose to use any tool in their arsenal based on your specific case and circumstances. This calls for you to have an open mind so that you are receptive to the approach since it is what they believe will work best in your case.
For example, a therapist like Dr. Tom Caplan uses Needs ABC: Needs acquisition and behavior change for most of the couple’s counseling sessions. This approach uses integrated therapeutic methodologies combined with the observation and elucidation of client processes with the aid of motivational, emotion-focused, narrative-focused, and cognitive-behavioral models.
You don’t have to understand in detail the method used by the therapist, but just have an open mind as a couple, and be receptive to whatever recommendations they may throw your way.