Congratulations on your first big step!!!
This definitely is an important moment, and for some people, it comes with anxiety, apprehension, and uncertainty. It might be helpful to get an idea of what to expect to prepare for your counselling appointment, especially if this is a couple therapy appointment.
Firstly, I’d encourage both partners to check out my website, or the website of the marriage counsellor/Relationship therapist/Sexologist before making an appointment. Because this type of therapy can be intense and anxiety provoking, it is important that both partners are happy with the chosen professional.
Some of the questions to ask might be;
1- What qualifications does the therapist have? Are they accredited somewhere? (This is especially important for sexologists. I mean who wants a back alley sex therapist, right???)
2- How long have they been practicing? What is their experience?
3- What kind of work are they known for? Have they written in their field of practice? Are they known for research or extra curricula in a specific area?
4- Where are they based, what are they fees, what about their reviews?
5- What kind of vibe do you get from their site/emails/contact?
You get the gist. Not every counsellor will meet every clients’ goals and vice versa. I have had clients swear by how amazing I was, while some others didn’t (I know. How shocking, right ? haha).
What happens once we have decided to go ahead?
Once you have made contact with me or your chosen therapist, and we have agreed on a time, you’ll receive a welcome email with some important information such as paperwork, maps, fee structure, and general bits and pieces. Then all you have to do is turn up on the day 🙂
A reminder is often sent by therapists. I send mine by text. Please give me 24 hours notice minimum if you need to cancel/reschedule so that I can offer your spot to someone else.
ON THE DAY!
Most couples present together on the day for one hour session. On some occasions, partners may choose to have a session separately first before meeting, but my preference is to meet with the couple together on their first session. The following information will be discussed during your first couple therapy session.
1- How you met
2- Demographics (age, location, marital status, kids, work etc)
3- Your history (social, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual etc.)
4- Any previous trauma/major even impacting on your relationship
5- Any current trauma/issues in the relationship
6- Each partner’s perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship
7- Each partner’s goals for the therapy
8- Each partner’s level of commitment for the relationship and the therapy
9- The style of counselling that clients would prefer (direct, softer etc.)
10- How clients would see the role of the therapist in the process
Though it may feel nerve-racking, the truth is many clients leave my office feeling lighter and hopeful. Having goals and a plan generally make people feel better about their situation.
What about homework?
As part of the therapy, I, along most counsellors, will provide couples with homework (hometasks, challenges etc.). Whether the clients do these is up to them, but clearly the more they practice, the quicker they improve with whatever issues they came with. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
If clients don’t practice outside my office, one of two things will happen. Either they will stall and give up, or I will challenge them as to what exactly it is they are doing/hoping for. This is not unusual, and sometimes it hides ‘resistance’ (AKA clients sabotaging their progress for some reason), but if you’re looking for a counsellor who will take your money and not stop your resistance or challenge you on it, you’re probably looking up the wrong professional 😉
Prepare for a successful therapy adventure by picking someone qualified and experienced and whose style will suit yours. Come prepared with a positive spirit and open mind, be ready to do homework and be challenged, and together let’s achieve your goals 🙂
Dr Stephanie Azri