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Behind Closed Doors: What Happens at Couples Counseling?

what happens at couples counseling

Have you recently gotten married, or are you preparing for a big transition in your life and looking for additional support as a couple? If you have never considered couples counseling, it’s time to change that. 

Couples counseling, often referred to as couples therapy or marriage counseling, is a valuable resource for couples facing challenges and seeking to improve their relationship. While the idea of discussing personal matters with a therapist might seem intimidating, understanding what happens at couples counseling can alleviate some of the uncertainty and misconceptions surrounding it.

In this article, we will explore what typically occurs behind closed doors in couples counseling sessions in Nashville.

Initial Consultation

The process usually begins with an initial consultation. During this meeting, the therapist meets with the couple to assess their situation. It’s an opportunity for both the therapist and the couple to get to know each other and determine if they feel comfortable working together.

The therapist will inquire about the couple’s concerns, relationship history, and goals for therapy. This initial session sets the foundation for future sessions and helps the therapist tailor the approach to the couple’s specific needs.

Remember that no matter what phase of the relationship you are in as a couple, you are welcome to try therapy as a solution. It doesn’t matter if you have been married for ten years or ten months. 

It’s better to start off the relationship on the right foot than to spend years or even decades in a state of hurt, confusion, and trouble. 

If you are about to start a new career, have a baby, or are in any major transition phase of your life, then couples counseling can be a big boon there as well. 

Establishing a Safe and Confidential Space

What happens at couples counseling stays at couples counseling. 

One of the essential aspects of couples counseling is the creation of a safe and confidential environment. Couples must feel that they can openly express their thoughts and feelings without judgment or fear of their information being shared outside of the sessions.

The therapist plays a crucial role in maintaining this safe space, ensuring that both partners feel heard and respected.

There should be no moment in time when you feel like the therapist is more biased towards one party or another. They are supposed to an objective bystander, which is why you are going to visit them in the first place. 

Identifying Issues and Goals

After the initial consultation, the therapist and the couple collaborate to identify the issues they want to discuss in therapy. These issues can range from communication problems and conflicts to trust issues, infidelity, or sexual concerns.

The therapist helps the couple define their goals for therapy. This might include:

  • Improving communication
  • Rebuilding trust
  • Enhancing intimacy
  • Making decisions about the future of the relationship

In a lot of cases, you might come into relationship counseling believing something to be the issue. And realize after a session or two that it’s something completely different.

That’s why it’s so important to let your relationship with the therapist build over time since you can’t fix whatever ails your relationship in a session or two. 

Don’t worry if you are both busy professionals with a jam-packed schedule. The therapist will work around your schedule to ensure the counseling sessions don’t interfere with your life. 

Communication Skills

A significant portion of couples counseling focuses on improving communication skills. Many relationship problems stem from misunderstandings, miscommunications, or ineffective ways of expressing needs and emotions.

Therapists teach couples active listening techniques, assertiveness, and conflict resolution strategies to help them communicate more effectively and empathetically.

You might have noticed this for yourself. Communication is the first thing to go out of the window when you or your partner start feeling hurt or angry. But that’s when it’s crucial to reign back the emotions and start communicating effectively. 

Your therapist will teach you all that over time. 

Exploring Emotional Dynamics

Couples counseling delves into the emotional dynamics within the relationship. This involves examining each partner’s feelings, vulnerabilities, and emotional triggers. By understanding these dynamics, couples can gain insight into the root causes of their issues and work towards resolving them.

For example, your therapist might use attachment styles to outline how your relationship plays out in real life. The four attachment styles are secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.  

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are a natural part of any relationship, but how they are handled can significantly impact a couple’s well-being. Couples counseling equips partners with tools to manage conflicts constructively.

This includes learning how to de-escalate arguments, compromise, and find mutually satisfying solutions.

If you find yourself yelling over each other whenever you get into an argument at home, then this is going to be essential for you to learn as a couple. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to let the other one know what it is you need from them at that moment. 

Rebuilding Trust

Trust is vital in any relationship. The problem with trust is that it takes a long time to build, with many little gestures and actions cementing it. It can be broken in an instant though. 

Couples counseling can accelerate the process of rebuilding trust after a breach, such as infidelity or betrayal. Therapists guide couples through the process of acknowledging the breach, expressing remorse and forgiveness, and establishing a foundation for rebuilding trust.

Intimacy and Connection

It can be the loneliest thing in the world to be in a relationship and still feel like you are lacking intimacy or closeness. 

Couples often seek therapy to rekindle intimacy and connection in their relationship. Therapists work with couples to identify barriers to intimacy, whether they are physical, emotional, or psychological. They help partners develop strategies to increase emotional and physical closeness.

Setting Boundaries

Healthy relationships require clear boundaries. Unfortunately, we live in a world where setting boundaries isn’t something that’s taught in school. 

If you never learned how to set boundaries from your parents or other caretakers and elders around you, then your couple counselor can step in and teach you how to do so. 

Couples counseling assists in establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries within the relationship, ensuring that both partners feel respected and comfortable.

Assessing the Relationship’s Future

At some point in therapy, couples may need to make decisions about the future of their relationship. This could involve discussing the possibility of separation or divorce, particularly if therapy reveals that the relationship is no longer viable or healthy.

Therapists support couples in making informed decisions and navigating the complexities of separation or divorce when necessary. This is even more important if there are children or other dependents involved in the relationship. 

Homework Assignments

Couples counseling often includes homework assignments or exercises to practice outside of sessions. These assignments reinforce the skills and strategies learned in therapy and help couples make tangible progress.

Even if it makes you feel like you are back in school, it’s important to follow the advice of the therapist and do the assignments on time. It would be a waste of time all around if you don’t. 

Progress Evaluation

Throughout the counseling process, therapists regularly assess the couple’s progress. They revisit goals and discuss whether the strategies employed are effective. Adjustments to the treatment plan may be made as needed.

This is probably going to be done every few sessions to ensure that everything goes as planned. If you would like to change the way the sessions are set up or hasten up or slow down the cadence, then it’s important to speak to your therapist about that right away. 

Termination and Aftercare

Couples counseling typically concludes when the couple has achieved their therapy goals or has decided on a path forward. The therapist may provide recommendations for aftercare.

This could include periodic check-ins or individual therapy for one or both partners to continue personal growth and maintain the progress achieved in couples counseling.

It could also include bringing in your children or dependents into the sessions if they are suffering due to your relationship troubles. 

You can also always come for a session every few weeks or months to stay on top of what the therapist for couples has taught you. This way, you don’t have to feel like you have been thrown into the deep end without any guidance or support. 

In general, though, you will be much further ahead of where you were when you first started couples counseling.

Are You Ready for What Happens at Couples Counseling?

Don’t fret or become anxious about couples counseling. Your therapist is there to help you fix whatever troubles your relationship is suffering from and come out triumphant on the other end. 

He/she is your friend and support system. You can rely upon them.

Now you know what happens at couples counseling, you are ready to search for a therapist for yourself. If you are in Nashville, Therapie would like to help you improve your life, work, and relationship. 

Set up an appointment to begin your free consultation session.  

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Therapist in Nashville, TN

At Therapie, we offer individual and couples therapy, as well as weekend intensives and online courses, so you can get the support you need, when you need it. Our services include: individual counseling, premarital, and couples counseling. If you are working on issues related to work, your relationship or life, we got you.


210 25th Ave N Ste 601, Nashville, TN, 37203