Deciding to go to couples therapy can feel like a big decision. Oftentimes, what keeps people from entering couples therapy are their preconceived notions of what it will be like. You may fear that you will be told you are the cause of your relationship problems. Perhaps you worry that you will have to commit to years of therapy for it to work. Of course, therapy is different for everyone, and there are many kinds of couples therapists out there who do therapy very differently. Below are 9 things that, in general, will not happen in couples therapy, and they might surprise you! Although you still may be on the fence about whether to seek couples therapy, at least you will be better informed about what it might be like for you and your partner.
- The therapist will not act as a judge for you and your partner. It can be tempting to look for someone in your life to tell you you’re right and your partner is wrong, but that is not what your therapist will do. Rather, your therapist will help you see how you each are a part of both what you are struggling with as well as the solutions that will make your relationship more satisfying.
- Shame. Perhaps you have made some mistakes in your life and in your relationship (we all have!), but your therapist will not make you feel shameful nor will your therapist allow your partner to shame you, either.
- Blame. Similarly, you may think that couples therapy is a place where partners point fingers at one another for why things are going badly in the relationship. Just the opposite is true; in couples therapy you will learn how to take responsibility for your own part of problems rather than focus on what your partner is doing wrong.
- You will not be left unsupported. In couples therapy, your therapist will be there to help you work hard to make the changes you and your partner have decided are important. Your therapist will also help you each find ways to support one another, as well.
- Your therapist will not take over and “fix” your partner or your relationship. Although you will be supported, your therapist will not do all the work for you. In fact, a good couples therapist helps you learn how to help yourself.
- You will not be told to avoid conflict. Instead, you will learn ways to have better, healthier, and productive conflict with your partner.
- You will not be turned away if you do not have what seem to be “huge” problems. Couples counseling is a great place to go if you want to prevent problems from arising. Premarital counseling is one good example of how couples therapy can be used as a preventative measure, although this kind of therapy can happen at any point in the development of your relationship.
- You will not be in therapy forever. Couples counseling does not have to last a lifetime. You may be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a short period of time, but you may also find that you enjoy your therapy time with your partner so much that you decide to stay in therapy longer than you once imagined.
- Showing up for counseling will not automatically make things better. Couples counseling works when you are committed to the process of making changes. Simply showing up is not a guarantee that things will get better.
Contributed by Staff Member Rachel Goldsmith, Therapist