Every serious couple will experience some sort of trouble in their relationship. Even the strongest of relationships will eventually face tough times. While this can be stressful, challenging, and painful at times, there are certainly things that couples can do to improve their relationship and remain together.
Often, the challenge is recognizing and acknowledging the problems that you are facing and making the decision to seek help about them. In any struggling relationship, it is important to seek professional help. Couples counseling can be a great way to save your relationship. Still, there are some things that you need to consider before starting couples counseling. Counseling can be highly effective when a couple comes prepared and committed to improving their relationship. This article will provide insight into some of the things that a couple should consider before starting couples counseling.
1. Do You Have Confidence in Couples Counseling?
Before you begin couples counseling, it is important to do your research, make sure you understand what it is, and have confidence that you can trust the process. Do you believe that counseling will work? While there are many people who have been misinformed, research has shown that when applied correctly, couples counseling can be highly effective. Relationship counselors are trained professionals who have extensive knowledge and experience to share with you. Most of the time, couples are unable to see the things that are causing their problems in the first place. This prevents them from being able to take steps to improve in those areas. Having a trained professional sit down with you and walk you through the steps to building a better relationship can be extremely beneficial.
2. Are You Both Committed to Couples Counseling?
One of the most critical things to consider before you begin counseling is whether you are both committed to counseling. If only one person is fully on-board with counseling, you will not be successful. Both partners need to be fully committed for couples counseling to work. Dr. Nikki Martinez lists this as the first thing that a couple should consider before beginning counseling in her article on the LIFE Blog. Do you have common goals? Have you both acknowledged and taken responsibility for your relationship problems? Are you both committed to working through those problems? These are important questions to answer before beginning couples counseling.
3. Do You Have the Right Counselor?
Once you have acknowledged that there are problems in your relationship and both of you have committed to couples counseling, it is important to make sure you have the right counselor. You will want to start with some basic questions. Is this person qualified? Do they have experience with couples facing similar issues? Are they affordable and within your budget? These are all important questions to answer. Still, there are other more specific questions that you should ask. Susan Heitler, Ph.D. has provided 15 Essentials That the Best Therapists Do. This is a must-read article before beginning couples counseling. Here are a few of the essentials that she lists: Do they focus on the positive and the negative? Do they provide clear treatment goals? Do they ensure that communication remains respectful throughout their sessions? Do they ask good questions? Are they helping your problem solve? Picking the right therapist is essential to being successful in couples counseling.
4. Are You Prepared to Change?
Before stepping foot into a counselor’s office, you need to both be honest with yourselves and be prepared to make some changes. Many people will struggle to admit that they have made mistakes. Others may feel that all the problems stem from one person in the relationship. Regardless of your circumstances, you need to make a commitment before beginning counseling that you are willing to make appropriate changes when asked, for the sake of restoring your relationship. Are you willing to change your views about your relationship to gain a new perspective? Are you willing to see things from the other person’s perspective? Are you willing to make changes to your behavior? Are you willing to improve communication, even when you may not want to? These are important questions to consider if you want counseling to be effective in your relationship.
5. Are You Willing to Hear Things You May Not Want to Hear?
Criticism, negativity, and openness are all things that you will experience during couples counseling. Are you prepared to hear things you may not want to hear? One of the keys to improving communication and emotional health is being able to open up about things that you are struggling within your relationship. This is a key to gaining understanding about why the other person may be acting or feeling a certain way. This can be extremely challenging but is imperative to a successful relationship. Are you both prepared to face each other and have difficult conversations?
6. Are You Willing to Be Patient?
Your relationship was not damaged overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight either. While some problems may be fixed quicker than others, you need to be committed to working through your relational problems over a long period of time. Beginning with the end in mind can be helpful when beginning counseling. One session will not fix problems that have been created over time. Though counseling can be challenging, it will be rewarding and effective if you will commit to sticking with it as long as it takes. Making small changes over a long period of time can produce long-lasting, healthy relationships.
Couples counseling can be a highly effective way to improve your relationship and work through the troubles you are facing. Though every relationship will face tough times, there are steps that can be taken and people that can help you. Seeking the help of a trained counselor is an important step to take.
If you are experiencing relationship problems and have questions about couples counseling, get the help you need with our marital counselors at the Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center where you can get local couples therapy. Contact us today by calling (877) 452-9515 to learn more about our helpful services.