Many couples experience relationship problems from time to time. Sometimes, however, these problems may seem insurmountable. Often, however, couples just need some professional guidance from a trained couples therapist or marriage counselor who can help them navigate a path to a positive solution. Partners can experience problems with one another as well as individual problems that affect the relationship. Meeting with a couples therapist or marriage counselor to get some helpful support allows couples to not only tackle their issues, but also to strengthen their relationship. If you want help to improve the relationship with your partner, there are some essential questions to ask your couples therapist at the onset of your couples counseling.
Questions to Ask Your Couples Therapist
When meeting with couples therapists or relationship coaches, you might consider asking the following questions to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship or marriage counseling process and what you can expect from it. Getting answers to these questions can help you get the most from your couples counseling sessions and to benefit from your therapist’s guidance.
Do We Need Couples Therapy?
Some couples arrive at couples therapy still feeling uncertain if they’ve made the right choice–if they actually need this type of intervention. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have major problems–deal-breaker problems–to enter into couples therapy.
Maybe you just want to communicate better, feel loved, or get some help dealing with lifestyle changes (you became empty nesters, for instance or your job requires more travel). Tell your therapist what brought you to therapy and ask if they believe you warrant counseling sessions. In most cases, couples can always benefit from therapy, even if it’s just for a short term in order to cope with current issues.
Do You Counsel Couples with Problems Like Ours?
It’s important for couples to work with a trained and credentialed couples therapist. If you and your partner are dealing with what you perceive to be unusual problems such as issues like substance addiction or mental health problems, or being able to trust your partner, you may want to know if your therapist has experience helping couples going through what you’re facing or if they can refer you to a therapist that is a better fit for your needs. Often, a skilled therapist can help couples navigate their problems even if they haven’t encountered these same problems in sessions before.
What Is Your Counseling Process?
Couples therapists don’t all follow the same process for supporting couples. Some therapists offer to meet with couples together and separately. Others may only meet with couples together. Talk to your therapist and discuss your preferences as well as their typical counseling process.
What Counseling or Therapy Approaches Do You Employ?
Not all couples therapists subscribe to the same counseling methods. There are many different approaches that specially trained therapists can take to help couples resolve their relationship problems. An experienced therapist may be able to switch approaches depending on the couple in question.
Be sure to find out if the approach that your therapist prefers has evidence to support its effectiveness. In fact, your therapist will likely be willing to explain their approach and its medical support. When you understand their approach, you may feel more confident about participating in their preferred therapy model.
Will Couples Therapy Work for Us?
When two individuals choose to enter into couples or marriage therapy, it’s a huge step in the right direction–a direction that is designed to improve or even save their relationship. Certainly, couples therapy has worked for thousands of couples.
When both partners are motivated to resolve their issues and find solutions–and do the work to achieve those solutions–couples therapy is extremely effective. However, sometimes couples ultimately choose to part ways, but when they do, they do so with greater understanding gained from their relationship or marriage counseling sessions.
What Do You Think Are Our Issues?
Often, couples visit a marriage counselor or family therapist believing that their main issue is one thing when it’s actually stemming from another. For instance, sometimes couples will believe they have an issue related to sex when the issue is actually more closely related to problems in the way they communicate with one another.
Experienced couples and marriage therapists are able to hone in on couples’ main issues whether they relate to mental health or communication issues in order to help them understand why they are experiencing relationship problems.
How Long Does Therapy Last?
The length of time that couples spend in therapy depends on their unique needs. Some couples may spend just a few months in emotionally focused therapy; others may find that a year or longer in couples counseling is necessary for support.
Individual sessions tend to last anywhere from 50 to 110 minutes, but it depends on the therapist’s scheduling arrangements. In addition, some clients may also wish to engage in individual therapy with their specially trained marriage or family therapist.
Are Their Relationship Problems That Can’t Be Resolved with Therapy?
In most cases, marriage and family therapists or relationship coaches won’t make that call for couples. Relationship coaches or marriage and family therapy specialist can help partners contend with their problems and develop strategies for improving their relationship and mental health. However, the choice to remain in a relationship is always up to the individual partners.
What Makes a Relationship Healthy?
You can get to know your couple counseling therapist better by asking them what makes a relationship a healthy one. In many cases, couples may not have the answers themselves. When you understand what a healthy relationship involves, you and your partner can begin to develop goals for making your relationship better.
How Can We Make Our Therapy More Productive?
Ask your couples therapist about how you can make your therapy sessions more productive and also what you can do outside of therapy to capitalize on your therapy. It’s very likely that your therapist will have some recommendations for you to consider.
In most cases, arriving at therapy and being prepared to be honest as well as open to listening are ideal practices for a positive therapy session. Outside of couples counseling and individual therapy, be willing to follow your therapist’s advice; they may encourage you and your partner to practice certain behaviors that you can discuss at the followup session.
Keep these questions to ask your couples therapist in mind when you meet with your marriage counseling professional or couples therapist for the first time or even for the first few sessions. Some therapists in private practice even offer online marriage counseling or couples therapy, which may be a good option for you. Getting answers to these questions to ask your couples therapist will help you build a strong–and insightful–foundation for your subsequent therapy.