first couples therapy session San Francisco, CA

What to expect your first couples counseling session

Knowing what to expect from your first couples counseling session can help set you and your partner up for success.  Starting any kind of therapy or counseling can be anxiety provoking, to say the least!  Now add your partner into the mix and all bets are off.

Before you start

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, finding a therapist can be a lot of work.  In order to start couples counseling, you will have to screen potential therapists and find someone you and your partner click with.  Typically, you’ll schedule a phone consultation to get a better feel for what it may be like to work together.  You may have asked friends or other trusted professionals for referrals.  It can be a time consuming process, but it’s important that you feel safe, comfortable and supported by the couples therapist you choose.

First couples counseling session

An important part of the first session is catching the therapist up to speed on what has been going on in your relationship.  When I work with couples, I ask a lot of questions and am really curious about what has brought you into my office today.  In addition to the problems in the relationship, I want to understand what works well so that we can build on that.

Setting goals

In couples therapy, it’s really important that everyone is clear about what the shared goals are.  Working on communication issues will look very different from improving your sex life, though they may end up being more connected than you initially thought.  It’s important to keep coming back to the goals and readjusting them as the work continues.

Creating a safe space

There are some topics that are just too scary to bring up with your partner without having someone else in the room to intervene if things get too messy.  Over time, the goal will be to teach you the skills to communicate about tough topics.  But it’s ok if you don’t have those tools or skills at first.  That’s why you’re coming in for help.

I’ve been describing the way I work with couples, but know that it may be different with each therapist you talk with.  It’s important to understand what the process may look like so that you can have a more clear picture about what to expect.

Check out the video below to hear me speak more about a first couples therapy session.

Tom Bruett

Tom Bruett

Tom Bruett, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist with an office in San Francisco, CA. Tom feels passionately about helping people have better relationships. The purpose of this blog is not to provide advice or to take the place of working with a mental health professional. For more information please visit the homepage.