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  • Suzanne Milligan

What to expect in Couples Counselling

Updated: Jun 1

Couple looking at sunset
Couples counselling

Therapy for us??

Often people will look into getting couples counselling when things are going horribly wrong in the relationship, waiting as long as possible until they get help. Or one person in the relationship insists and the other comes along with great reluctance. And of course there are the many who never get help, either enduring how the relationship is and losing hope in change or giving up and ending the relationship.

There is still a lot of stigma around getting help from a therapist, as if there is something seriously wrong with you if you have to bring in a stranger to help sort things out. There might be shame around being seen as weak—surely we can figure this out on our own! Most couples wait up to 6 years before seeking counselling—a long enough time for grudges, unexpressed feelings, unhelpful patterns and habits to become firmly established.

There may also be the fear of the unknown—what will we be doing with a couples counsellor? Will it be excruciating and confrontational? To answer these last questions, let me give an overview of how IFIO couples therapy works.

How We Start-the First Session in Couples Counselling

  1. After having a brief talk on the phone, you can decide if you think I’d be a good fit for you and your partner. In our first session we would look at what you want out of this process, plus your hopes and goals. We explore the problems you are facing and cover a bit of your relationship history.

2. We then start mapping out, step by step, what happens in your communication with each other. What happens when your partner does or says something that bothers you? We slow things way down to a snail’s pace to give each of you time to notice:

—what happens in your body after hearing that?

—what is your first impulse?

—what do you say or do in response?

3. Usually after a few rounds of this, it becomes obvious that the current style of communication is not working for either of you. We may have learned what is getting in the way of you listening to each other. We may have learned what happens when you fight, what patterns are there. How does your nervous system deal with what is going on in an argument? The more we know about how the process rolls along, the more chance we have of changing it.

4. Then we move towards learning how to process your differences differently. This usually means changing how you speak and listen, how you take and deliver information between each other.

This starts with getting to know yourselves individually, so you can be in relationship with one another. I will write more in depth about this in my next post! But if you are interested and want to talk, feel free to get in touch.


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