There are some tips and strategies that can help you maximize the benefits you will receive from marriage counseling. If you and your spouse have agreed to go to counseling together, it is important to have realistic expectations of counseling and a clear idea on how to benefit from treatment.
Think about what you are willing to change. Unfortunately, many people enter into couples counseling hoping that their spouse will change. They gather evidence to show the therapist how the other person is “wrong.” This is counterproductive. Instead, focus on yourself and changes you are willing to make.
Do your homework each week. Going to therapy every week will not be beneficial if you don’t do any work outside of treatment. The real work begins after you leave the therapist’s office. It’s important to follow through with each assignment each week and talk about what worked or what didn’t work. Also, if you had questions or struggled with a particular assignment, bring this up with the therapist.
Be honest in therapy. Lying to a therapist is never helpful. Talking openly about difficult and embarrassing subjects with a stranger doesn’t come easy. However, remember that the therapist has probably heard lots of similar stories before and isn’t interested in your attempts to “paint a good picture” of the marriage. Remember that confidentiality in therapy prevents the therapist from repeating anything that you disclose .
Work with your therapist and your spouse on setting goals. Discuss your progress and any barriers to reaching your goals. Speak up and share your concerns.
If you feel like you aren’t benefiting from therapy, avoid the temptation to just quit attending. If you find yourself forgetting appointments or making excuses to not attend, it may be a sign that it isn’t working or that you don’t want to do to the work. Talk to your therapist about your struggles to try and gain the most benefit. You may need to try a different type of therapy or your therapist may offer new suggestions that can be helpful.