What will your first counseling session look like? How does the process work? And what forms of couples therapy are available to you? We're here to help prepare your expectations for this unique type of counseling.
How To Tell If You Need Couples Therapy
Romantic relationships can differ significantly from one couple to the next. That can make it difficult for romantic partners to determine if they need counseling or not. However, these are a few of the most common signs that you might need couples counseling in Chicago:
- Consistently fighting with one another
- A lack of sexual expressions of love
- The same issues keep coming up
- You have difficulty communicating with each other
- Infidelity or unfaithfulness
- Financial concerns/challenges
That said, there might be other reasons to seek out couples counseling. Are you about to experience a big life change (e.g., marriage, moving in together, having a child or adopting, etc.)? If so, therapy can be of incredible support in helping you prepare for that.
What Types of Couples Therapy Are Available to You?
Did you know that couples therapy has been practiced since the 1930s? It didn't gain mass popularity until the '80s, during which time an abundance of varied approaches were steadily developed and introduced to society.
Today there's a wide array of approaches and philosophies practiced for couples therapy (Verywell Mind). Here are just a few of the many options that you may want to consider trying:
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) - This therapy aims to improve the emotional attachment between you and your partner.
- Psychodynamic couples therapy - This approach explores the underlying hopes and fears and the driving internal stories and relationship "blueprints" that are influencing you and your partner, often outside of conscious awareness.
- Gottman method - Developed by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, this method works to address areas of conflict and equip couples with laboratory-proven problem-solving skills.
- Ellen Wachtel's approach - This method focuses on strengthening the positive aspects of a relationship.
Your First Couples Counseling Session
Just as each relationship is different, so is each relationship therapist! Counselors may take varying approaches to couples counseling sessions, depending on their education and training, your goals, and their specialty.
However, you can generally expect your first session to follow a handful of steps:
- Intake - Your therapist will collect some basic information regarding your relationship. This may include things like the current length of your relationship, your current living situation, any prior therapy experiences, and more.
- Establish Goals - Your counselor will help you develop clear goals for your therapy that are positive and non-adversarial.
- Honest Conversations - With your goals in mind, your therapist will start to guide you and your partner through some difficult, yet necessary conversations.
- Summarize and Assign Homework - At the end of the session, each partner might offer up their thoughts about the session. And your therapist will advise you on things to do at home to build upon the progress you made while in session.
How You Can Prepare for Couples Therapy
To make the most of your counseling sessions, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Just follow these expert tips to get ready:
- Prepare yourself to be uncomfortable. You'll be expected to talk about your feelings, emotions, and memories during therapy. While it may be slightly uncomfortable, remember that you're in a safe space and that sharing is a necessary part of the healing process.
- Commit to your sessions. Change takes time, so don't expect things to improve immediately after one therapy session. Be prepared to visit your therapist for at least a few months.
- Discuss your goals ahead of time. Your goals don't need to be clearly defined before your first session. However, it can help to have a good idea of what you both want to get out of therapy.
- Find the right therapist for you. There are many options for couples therapy in Chicago and they all differ in many ways. To make the most of your experience, it's important to work with the right counselor for your relationship.
One final tip: Go into your relationship therapy sessions with an open mind! When you're open and receptive to change, you'll find therapy to be more beneficial for your romantic partnership.
Book Your First Session for Couples Therapy in Chicago
Whether you're looking for marriage counseling, pre-marital therapy, or relationship counseling services, you've come to the right place.
At Wellington Counseling Group, we have multiple couples' therapists on staff representing extensive clinical experience. Through our supportive psychotherapy, we will help you work through relationship difficulties and establish a deeper sense of trust between you and your partner.
Contact Wellington Counseling Group today to set up your first session for couples therapy in Chicago.