4 Tips for Couples Seeking Therapy

Communication, understanding, patience, and compromise are all necessary qualities for lasting relationships. Fortunately, all these qualities can be developed with dedication and effort. Couples therapy can help men and women build strong relationships by helping them develop these qualities. Here are four things that couples should do when thinking about starting therapy.

Remember that you don't need to be married to seek couples counseling.

Couples therapy is sometimes used synonymously with the term marriage therapy, but you don't need to be married to seek couples counseling. Anyone in a romantic relationship can attend couples therapy. Even couples in new relationships can benefit from counseling as it can help couples build healthy habits.

Understand that the therapist is not on anyone's side.

Couples therapists seek to present unbiased advice to the couples that they counsel. To this end, couples therapists are not on any one person's side. Instead, they are on the side of your relationship. Couples counselors will encourage each person in a relationship to take responsibility for their mistakes and to strive to be their best selves. In a non-judgmental counseling environment, couples can gain a new perspective on their partnership.

Be aware that things might get worse before they get better.

People typically go to couples therapy with the intention of improving their relationships. However, you should be aware that things may get worse before they get better. People often develop maladaptive coping strategies in rocky relationships. While these coping mechanisms aren't healthy, they are still something that you rely upon. As you open up to your partner and your therapist in counseling sessions, you may uncover difficult truths. Sharing your true feelings openly and honestly is the only path forward, but doing so may strain your relationship for a time.

Commit to seeing couples therapy through until the end.

At the beginning of your relationship with your couple's counselor, your counselor will help you and your partner set a goal for therapy. You may have a specific problem that you wish to resolve, or you may wish to become better at communicating in general. Based on your goals, your couples therapist will recommend a number of sessions. At the end of your scheduled treatment, you and your partner will have the opportunity to evaluate your progress and decide to continue or discontinue therapy. It's important that you stick with couples therapy for the duration of your treatment in order to see the desired improvements.