What To Expect In Couples Counseling
The First Steps
When you first come to couples therapy, we complete an assessment. This contains three parts. First, we meet with you together and get to know your background. We learn what brings you to therapy and what you hope to change. We also meet with each of you separately and assess for safety, commitment and your attachment history. We are also determining if there are any reasons why we might need to start with individual therapy first. Then, begin couples therapy once any safety issues have been addressed. Finally, we set goals. It is important to have three months sobriety from addictions before moving too deeply into our couples work together. We have a “no Secrets Policy” where we ask that our clients do not ask us to hold a secret from their partner. This may interfere with the common goals we set in therapy.
Following the assessment, we move into the first phase of therapy where a few common goals are to first establish safety, identify what is interfering with safety in your communication at home, and to identify what are the raw spots where each of you become emotionally reactive and disconnected. We also identify the negative pattern that has been repeating itself. Together we make sense of what is fueling the pattern in terms of attachment needs. Finally, we learn new tools that can encourage more open, direct and safe communication around your needs.
The middle phase of therapy involves deepening your vulnerability with each other. As safety has increased, you are able to express more sensitive parts of yourself, reach for your partner for reassurance and improve intimacy. With the help of your therapist, you learn to slow down, go deeper and become clearer on what you need and how to express this to one another.
Finally, you will learn to create rituals of connection. This may involve morning, evening, weekly and transition times when you are coming or going from each other. These rituals of connection help maintain the positive growth you have made in therapy and ensures you continue to have a secure connection in your home and in other relationships in your life.