Couples therapy is often where many couples turn for guidance when they are facing stress in their relationship.  Many times, couples therapy is used as a complementary therapy to individual counseling.  Couples therapy, as with other therapy services, has a process that helps the client become familiar with the therapist and what psychotherapy involves

While each therapist may have a different approach or school of thought they adhere to, couples therapy generally commences in the same manner.  Couples therapy (also called marital therapy or marriage counseling)  is sought for a variety of reasons including infidelity, grief, family concerns, intimacy or lack of sexual connection, or communication difficulties.   At times, couples therapy can also include alternating family counseling.  Overall, mental health care aims to help clients find new and healthy ways to cope with current life stresses.

What happens in your first session for couples therapy?

At your initial session, the therapist will provide you with forms that need to be signed and filled out which will ask you about your personal history.  The most important form will be the consent for which informs the therapist you are agreeing to receive mental health treatment from them.

Personal history include but is not limited to:

  • Your relationships history
  • Medical history (including whether you are taking medication, psychotropic or otherwise)
  • Use of drugs and alcohol
  • Previous mental health treatment
  • Religious affiliations
  • Social support (including who you life with)
  • Level of education
  • What you do for work
  • What you do for fun

After you finish your paperwork, your therapist will meet with you to review the paperwork and discuss the limits of confidentiality.

What are the limits of confidentiality?

Discussing the limits of confidentiality is important for you and your counselor.  Confidentiality ensures that almost everything you say will remain private.  Notes, records, etc. will not be shared without your consent. What is included in these limits of confidentiality? For the most part, everything is confidential except if you disclose that you:  have hurt or want to hurt a child, elderly person, or someone sick.  As with many things in life there are exceptions to every case, so if you have a question, ask your therapist to be sure.

Once these documents are reviewed, the therapist will likely go through a clinical interview with you that will discuss your history more in depth so the counselor gets an idea of what our background looks like. During this time you will also get a chance to discuss your goals for therapy and what you would like to accomplish throughout the therapy process.After the clinical interview is completed, the session will be wrapped up.  At this time, your therapist may ask for your impression of the therapeutic process thus far.  Providing the therapist with thoughts on how you feel so far helps them best cater sessions for you.

What questions would you have for a first-time couples therapy session?

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