Preparing for your first couples therapy session.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first, most difficult step in getting support for your relationship by seeking couples therapy. It is a wise and very brave decision to see a couples therapist. Having a professional relationship expert to provide support, guidance and another set of “hands” can be one of the most helpful to ensuring the long-term health of your relationship. We seek teachers and coaches in almost all other skills we seek to master, and yet confoundingly we expect ourselves to know how to successfully navigate our most important relationships without help. I am glad you are seeking help and look forward to providing you with the support necessary to build the healthiest and happiest relationship possible.
So, congratulations on taking that first step. You are well on your way to developing a healthy, happy, exciting relationship that stands the test of time. While it is not required to do anything to prepare, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of our first session.
1. Take some time to talk together about your hopes and goals together. Sit across from each other and listen to each other about what you each hope to gain from the experience. Are there specific skills you want to learn? Or is it an experience you want to have together that builds or increases something together? There ar e no wrong goals to have, and it is not important to have the same goals. What is important is to be clear about what your partner hopes for, so focus more on listening to your partner and hearing what they want from the experience, and let them do the same for you.
2. While you are talking, listen also for what your partner is worried about in the experience. What are their fears or anxieties about what may happen? Provide support in care in hearing these fears so that you may provide any needed support where necessary. Allow them to support you in this same way.
3. If you are interested in learning more about the therapy approach that I practice, Stan has a wonderful book Wired For Love (https://tinyurl.com/l8epxm5); as well as an audiobook Your Brain On Love (https://tinyurl.com/mvzxrys). Either are fantastic resources for you to use to familiarize yourself with the research and theory behind the ways that I practice. Many couples prefer to see me before launching into, so this is strictly optional, but this is an option for you if you like.
Beyond this, there is nothing special to do to ready yourself for our first session. Our first session will be longer than traditional therapy, being 2-3 hours in length. This gives you plenty of time to provide all the important historical information for me to know you both well enough to be helpful. More importantly, it also provides enough time for me to see you interact with one another and for us to have some fun with exercises to that help you learn ways to care for one another in new ways that build a stronger connection. Much will be accomplished in that first session, so you can expect to leave with a greater understanding of one another as well as useful tools for creating a healthier relationship.
PACT therapy is very different from other types of couples therapy and you will find it to be very active, very fast-moving and more focused on the ways that you interact with one another than on the fast-moving that you are talking about. While it is emotionally very demanding, I use humor and playfulness to help introduce fun into even the most challenging conversations. You can expect to be tired and challenged at the end of our first session, while also leaving inspired and more confident in what your partner and your relationship needs and how to achieve these. If sadly, you are seeking help deciding to end your relationship, I will help you clearly decide how and why to end your partnership and to do so with care and respect.
I love my job and feel powerfully about the best ways to help couples create the most secure connection for a vital, healthy and fun relationship that lasts a lifetime. I look forward to supporting you and your relationship!