Tips for First Couples Therapy Session
(From a Couples Therapist)


Get excited! I’ve decided to do a blog series on helping you to prepare and give you tips for your first couples therapy session.

I think it is important to equip incoming couples with information to help set realistic expectations.  

After all, when expectations and reality are way off, it can be both disorienting and disappointing.



For example, you’ve probably experienced something like this:


You anticipated a dream vacation for months and months...

 The day finally comes and you set off for this ‘amazing’ vacation but…

  • Your flight ends up being delayed for 18 hours
  • You get a terrible sunburn on the first day
  • On the second day you get food poisoning

Your dream vacation became your nightmare vacation.

This is what I want you to avoid… 

I want you to show up to relationship counseling knowing what to expect!

So without further ado, let’s begin!

1. Be Prepared to Work on Yourself!

You may think you are going to convince the therapist you are right and your partner is wrong. 

I hate to tell you, but this isn’t the goal at all in therapy.

It’s about learning how your part in the relational dance is hurting your relationship.

Once you become aware of your problematic role in the relationship, the hard part begins


You’ll (really, really, really) want to point the finger at your partner…


But you’ll be asked to focus on yourself… because you are the only one that you can change. 


You can’t change your partner. 


I- as the relationship counselor- can’t change your partner.    


But what you can work on changing is how you react to your partner.

Tip #2 for First Couples Therapy Session...

It’s going to take some time.

You know that old saying,

“Rome wasn’t built in a day?” 

Please (please, please, please) apply this idea to couples counseling. 


Your relationship didn’t become problematic overnight. 


Plus,  how you learned to be in relationship with others was cultivated over your entire lifespan.  

Change can happen but it doesn’t happen overnight… and if it does that is (most likely) problematic.


Think about a little kid who had to attend a family reunion and had to be on his “best behavior” all day.  


He is told he needs to act excited to see Aunt Bertha and agree with Grandma’s stern directives.   By the time he goes home, what happens?


He melts down!

Tips Couples Therapy

Just as a little kid slowly matures into being able to handle the stress of family reunions, so too is how relationships mature- slowly, steadily, imperfectly, and over time.



True change is (usually) painfully slower than we’d prefer… which segways beautifully into the next tip…

Tip #3 for Your First Couples Therapy Session...

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good

Let’s say you’ve been in marriage counseling for a month. 

And the last two weeks, you see change and you are thrilled.. but then there is a backslide.  

You find yourself reacting to your partner the way you used to which feels terrible… after all, now you know better and yet you didn’t do better.  

In those moments, it’s hard to keep in mind that you have made progress… 

and progress is not linear.  

If you can remember that progress is not linear, you’ll be less frustrated at yourself and less discouraged about your relationship!


In the next few days, I’ll be sharing more tips for the first couples therapy session…

Until then, if you are ready to give therapy a go…

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


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