What to Expect During Your First Couples Therapy Session

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Choosing to attend couples therapy can be a nerve-wracking decision. But the actual sessions don’t have to be stressful. Here’s what to expect from your first couples therapy session to help you prepare.

What Does a First Session of Couples Therapy Look Like?

In order to get an idea of what your first couples therapy session will be like, consider what couples therapy is for. The therapist’s job isn’t to point fingers, assign blame, or tell you what to do with your relationship. They’re probably not going to tell you whether you should break up or what the future of your relationship will look like. In fact, they may not tell you a whole lot of anything. Instead, they might ask a lot of questions for you and your partner to discuss. That’s because the therapist is there to facilitate communication, honesty, and healing.

Your first session probably won’t be that different from a first session with a one-on-one therapist. You’ll start by handling the basic paperwork, like:

  • Signing consent forms and confidentiality agreements
  • Providing personal and contact information
  • Providing your insurance information (if your therapist will bill your insurance)

Next, the therapist will probably ask about your couple origin story. This is your chance to explain how you met, why you chose each other, why you’re opting for therapy, and what issues you want to tackle in therapy. You can also share what your end goal and ideal result from therapy might be. 

The therapist might also ask about other significant relationships in your lives, such as each of your families of origin, any children you may have, etc. Treat this as a “getting to know you” session. The first session is also a great time to discuss and determine whether that therapist is a good fit for the 2 of you.

Will the Therapist Pick Sides in the Relationship?

Ideally, no – unless there’s abuse present in the relationship, in which case it’s the therapist’s job to identify and help rectify it.

But keep in mind that therapists are still human. Occasionally, they inadvertently identify more strongly with 1 member of the couple than the other. If that ever happens, you should feel empowered to point that out. A good therapist will take your feedback and do their best to keep their personal feelings out of the therapy session.

How to Prepare for Your First Relationship Session

Get Introspective

Take some time to think about what you want from therapy and from your relationship in general. Identify if there’s anything you’re nervous about and be prepared to talk about it in the session.

Embrace the Nerves

Don’t be surprised if you feel anxious about the visit. That’s very normal and isn’t an indication that something’s wrong.

Prepare to be Transparent

Therapy is all about communication, so if you’re closed off, it probably won’t work as well as you want it to. The therapist will probably begin with general questions like “What brings you here?” and “What do you think went wrong?” And you might be surprised at how quickly things get real. Emotions may get heightened faster than you expect. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Expect Homework

Couples therapy isn’t usually a “talk and forget about it” kind of deal, even if that’s how you tend to approach one-on-one therapy. It’s different when there’s another person involved.

Couples therapy homework can include activities like writing down common goals, thinking about ways to split roles at home, and learning new scripts to use during disagreements.

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