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  • How to Get the Most out of Couples Therapy

    Whatever the reasons that brought you to therapy to begin with, there are a number of things you can do (and avoid doing) to help get better results. Here are some tips to help you derive greater benefit from your couples therapy experience.

    Maintain Consistency. Attend your couples therapy appointments on a regular basis. Try to avoid cancelling sessions if possible — make therapy a priority in your life and your schedule. It’s just like trying to improve your physical conditioning — if you skip workouts, you’re just not going to get the best results.

    Be Honest. During your sessions, be truthful about your feelings and whatever is on your mind, even you’re concerned that your partner might not like what you say. While you always want to avoid being intentionally hurtful or disrespectful, you can’t improve what you don’t acknowledge. Also be honest with your therapist about any feelings you have about treatment. Don’t worry about offending the therapist — we have thick skins.

    Take Notes. Consider journaling during the week about anything you might want to bring up during your next session. You may also want to take notes after your appointment to help you remember important points. Taking notes can help you integrate and extend the gains you’ve made in couples therapy into your life “on the outside” — which is, after all, the goal.

    Do the Work. Be prepared and willing to do some hard work in couples therapy. Progress can’t be made without confronting some uncomfortable feelings. If you think of therapy as just a place to “vent,” it’s not going to be very helpful in the long run. Also, do any homework your therapist assigns to you between sessions. It’s okay if you struggle or fail on tasks, but it’s important that you make an attempt so you can learn from the process. We don’t give grades in therapy — so just do your best.

    Educate Yourself. Understand the type of couples therapy that you’re receiving and how it’s supposed to assist you. Information and trust in the process can help keep you committed even when you’re not seeing results quite as quickly as you’d hoped.

    Avoid the Blame Game. Don’t just look to find fault with your partner. Be willing and open to look at the role you play in any relationship difficulties you’re experiencing. Keeping the focus on yourself can go a long way toward creating positive change. Try to use more “I” statements and fewer “you” statements as a general rule.

    Be Realistic. Have realistic expectations about what can be accomplished in therapy. Problems frequently take a long time to develop, and they’re probably not going to be solved in a week or two. While behavior, communication patterns and the quality of your emotional bond can be significantly improved during couples therapy, you shouldn’t expect that your partner is going to become an entirely different person over the course of treatment.

    Like so many other things in life, what you get out of couples therapy depends on what you put into it. Regular attendance, an open mind, realistic expectations and a willingness to work are key. If you’d like to find out more about couples therapy and determine if it’s right for you, call my office at 407-579-2070 for a free complementary consultation.