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What to Expect From Your First Couples Session

Updated: Mar 5

Knowing what to expect from your first couples session can help you get off to a flying start. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic.

Many of the challenges are universally encountered on the road to a deeper, more mature, loving relationship.

Expressing the desire for change

You may approach your first couples session together with some apprehension, but that may lift quickly as you sit down with your therapist. It is often a relief to start talking.

This can release some of the tension and point the way to a more positive future together. There is often a mixture of high hopes and vulnerabilities to be acknowledged.

Couples may have been trying for years to make things work. Usually, behind any discomfort, pain or hostility, there is a strong desire for meaningful change. Despite the desire to change an unhelpful status quo, there can be resistance to overcome.

Addressing ‘stuck’ patterns

Partners may have high expectations of each other, or be demanding something. They might not fully understand what it takes to change a pattern which is serving neither well. Therapy brings with it a natural accountability to the process of change.

  • What would each partner like to change about their relationship pattern?

  • What personal changes can each partner ‘sign up for’?

  • What hopes and dreams can provide the inspiration for change?

Being ‘stuck’ in a cycle is usually incredibly frustrating for both. In therapy, it’s possible to observe what partners say and do to remain stuck. Often, what partners don’t say or do is just as important to understand. In this way, therapy can tease out the factors that will provide a catalyst for change. Read more about identifying patterns.

Tapping into a shared vision

There is also a couple’s unique vision to consider. Years ago perhaps, they were planning an exciting future together whilst enjoying each other’s company. What happened to that original vision of time well spent together and the goals they were striving for?

Beneath the current disillusionment, there is often a greater sense of shared purpose. Therapy helps couples connect with what matters to them now, in the present, and can galvanise them for their future together. This is all about realising your potential together.

Meeting challenges with new tools

If tensions escalate, as they inevitably do sometimes, therapy is the place to equip couples with the tools for emotional regulation. Establishing the psychological safety to talk and be heard again is crucial - it helps a couple freely discuss whatever fears they may have.

Many of the challenges faced by couples are universally encountered on the road to a deeper, more mature, loving relationship. The challenges of parenting, family finance, and intimacy may seem different at a superficial level, but the underlying communication issues are very often remarkably similar.

It is how a couple responds to these common challenges and how they talk about them that makes all the difference. Entrenched fight-or-fight reactions start to give way to more measured responses with a little practice.

Fostering new possibilities

Couples counselling opens up new possibilities by providing the hope, inspiration and skills to navigate to a better, healthier relationship.

In a supportive, therapeutic environment, it becomes possible to navigate the complexity of relationship issues. A growing awareness of what really works, paired with the desire to change can start to pay dividends from the very first session.

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