Most couples are unhappy for an average of 6 years before deciding to try therapy together. Whatever the reason (stigma associated with counseling, not wanting to admit they are "that couple," prioritizing work over their relationship, etc.), by the time they decide to try therapy, they aren't sure what happens next. Here's a little of what you can expect:
1. The consultation: The therapist will talk to each of you to make sure you're ready for couples therapy. This might be a conference call, putting you on speaker phone together, or calling and speaking to each of you at a time. I usually ask what prompted you to seek counseling, what your hopes are, and about the recurring issues that keep coming up between you. This is where you should ask about your therapist's experience in working with couples like you.
2. The first few sessions: I'll ask more about your history as a couple, how you met, and what you love about each other! It's not all focused on the "problems." I'll send you some questionnaires to complete separately to gather more information about what you each bring to the table (aka, your "baggage"). These will give a clear understanding of your strengths (shared values? the same sense of humor?) and the areas we can focus on improving. We can't effectively resolve something until we know what it is!
3. Ongoing sessions: We use each session to practice healthy, real-life communication skills (no trust falls), hear about each others' personal needs, and address any setbacks from the previous week. You'll spend much of the time interacting with each other instead of "taking turns" explaining your side of the story to me. The best way to learn is to just do it! Sessions are usually 75-90 minutes long, once a week.
4. Ending therapy: I make sure we continually check-in about how things are progressing. Over time, sessions become fewer and more spread out. You'll start to notice that the more you share about yourselves and each other, the more compassion you have. You'll be able to see your partner's strengths instead of looking for their faults. My job is to make myself obsolete, and help you take what you practice in session home with you.
Therapy with me helps people build on their foundation of friendship and respect, and learn to let the little things go. I can't promise how long it will take, but as with all my clients, I want you starting to feel better pretty quickly. You can wait 6 years, but you don't have to.
If you want to make the most of your relationship through couples therapy, call (562) 704-4736 for a free consultation. Prospect Therapy welcomes individuals and couples of all genders and orientations in Long Beach, CA.