Our third installment, borrowed and adapted from an article by Dr. Peter Pearson, on how to get the most from couples therapy:
How to Maximize the Value from your Couples Therapy Sessions
Here are some common (yet unproductive) patterns that occur in therapy when couples do not keep sight of their overarching goals and objectives:
- Putting a superficial and blaming focus on whatever problem happens to be on someone’s mind at the moment. This is a reactive (and mostly ineffective) approach to working things through. Better to be proactive and focus on how the problem relates to the goals you have set for yourself. What do you want to do differently? How do you want to be as you tackle the problem at hand?
- The second unproductive pattern is showing up to a session and saying “I don’t know what to talk about, do you?”
- The third common unproductive pattern is describing whatever fight you are now in or whatever argument you have had since the last session. Simply describing or reenacting these fights/arguments without a larger context of what you wish to learn from the experience is often an exercise in spinning your wheels. A better approach is to use the session to reflect on how you could have shown up differently, how you strayed from your goal of being different, how you are struggling to be different in the here and now, etc.
A more powerful approach to utilize in your couples therapy sessions is for each person to do the following before each session:
- Reflect on your objectives for being in therapy.
- Think about your next step that supports the kind of relationship you wish to create, or challenges you to be the partner you aspire to be.
This reflection takes some effort, yet few people would call an important meeting and then say, “well, I don’t have anything to bring up, does anyone else have anything on their agenda?” Nor would they say “let’s use this valuable time to keep hashing out that same problem in the same way.” Coming to sessions prepared will help you to be more productive and give you much more bang for your buck.
©2015 TheCouplesInstitute www.couplesinstitute.com
Stay tuned for part four of our series. Until then, peace.