Couples face many challenges in creating a healthy relationship. Couples counseling is an opportunity to devote time to your relationship with a professional who is specifically trained to help with the process. Couples often get trapped in communication patterns that create hurt and anger, thus inhibiting the growth of the relationship. There are several practices taught in counseling sessions that help the relationship to change course and grow in a healthier direction:
- Learning your own relational patterns and belief systems
- Learning about your partner’s relational patterns and belief system
- Learning to listen and communicate productively
- Learning how to help your partner in an empowering way
- Learning your own self-care
- Learning how to have fun together
- Learning how to create healthy intimacy
Couples sessions are similar to individual sessions in that the first session is a time to set goals for the therapy work and to hear from each person what challenges they are finding in the relationship. Guidelines for the sessions are discussed to establish a safe environment that won’t recreate the same dysfunctional communication patterns that have existed prior to the start of counseling. You will then learn specific techniques to create healthy communication patterns that you can start using right away.
The following sessions are an opportunity to work towards the goals that you have established in the initial session. You will learn how to use mindfulness techniques to increase their ability to know what they you are both feeling and needing from one another. Mindfulness techniques provide an opportunity to reduce defensiveness as they put a pause in place to create space for inward reflection before responding. You will both look at past relationship patterns and how old dynamics may be getting played out in your current relationship. If children are involved, you will have the chance to talk about how your relationship is impacting your children and to create changes that will make the whole family more peaceful. The process will vary from couple to couple as each relationship has its own unique characteristics and challenges, thus you will have the opportunity to work with techniques that you are comfortable with.