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7 Steps To Making Couples Counseling Work For You

Dr. Arlene G. Krieger
May 6, 2008
Often times patients often ask their therapist what action they should take regarding a specific dynamic in their relationship. It is important for the the individual or couple upon entering the therapy process to be aware, that it is not for the Doctor or Therapist to tell them what to do or how to do it, but rather, to interpret for the couple, and help them to understand exactly what it is that they are trying to say to each other.

A therapist's job is not to FIX the people who seek their services, but to "Help Them Help Themselves. " During this process, the therapist provides a safe haven to explore issues, and an experts positioning on the sequences of behavior and patterns of interaction at play in the what might seem to be a deteriorating relationship.

Sometimes it seems impossible "to see the forest for the trees" when one is in the middle of crisis in their own personal trials and tribulations of life and love. As the Therapist, it is my job to help the couple/individual make sense of and choose possible options for moving forward in their relationships in a a positive manner that is pro-active by both parties.

With these basic and essential boundaries in place, the groundwork for the therapeutic process begins.

In the first 3 sessions, the therapist must "join" with the patient, meaning, that each respective party begins to feel comfortable in their role as patient, and therapist. It is during these crucial beginning sessions that the doctor/patient relationship is nurtured and the patient(s) often begin to see and feel progress.

If indeed the patient decides that there is a "comfort zone" and they wish to continue with therapy with this particular doctor/ therapist, it is at this point that the interactive components of trust and therapeutic process between Doctor and Patient develop into a working relationship.

The secret to a" healthy working relationship" with your therapist, and to getting the most out of your therapy, is in truly understanding the Therapeutic process. A few of these rules for therapy are listed below.

1. Going into therapy, decide whether you are there to "win" at something, or to "work on solutions" to help your relationship survive.

2. Your therapist will not "take sides". Your therapist is well-trained to work from an Objective stance, not Subjective. He/she is there for both of you, to try to help connect the dots that got disconnected.

3. Let down the defenses: Don't come into therapy with a "chip on your shoulder" you are either here to gain a better understanding of your relationship or to fight about the past. Unfair fighting is a deal breaker and you will find yourself a difficult person with which to deal (even with yourself).

4. Take responsibility for your own life, relationship and therapeutic process. Simply going to therapy will not "fix" your relationship. It is up to you and your partner to follow through with the therapeutic process both in and out of the therapy session.

5. Expect your therapist to provide interactive discussion during therapy. Today's therapy hopes to provide the patient with Solutions for Today's problems. Simply venting or talking to the therapist for the 55 minute session is old school therapy, psychodynamic, and often leaves the patient feeling as thought they've come out of therapy with no new tools or skills to work with.

6. In solution-focused therapy, homework, or directives for further development of your therapy treatment plan are implemented, so that you've done your part of the therapy process between appointments (or phone sessions).

7. Therapy is not a day at the Park. Expect to feel uncomfortable at the beginning. It is difficult to feel vulnerable and safe enough at the same time, to express your personal issues and move forward with your therapist. Hopefully these guidelines will provide a birds-eye view enabling you to get the most from your investment in Psychotherapy. If you are reading this article, you are taking the first step to improving your quality of life and relationships. Small baby steps can lead to great accomplishments.
About the Author
Sexologist Dr. Arlene Krieger, PHD practices in Boca Raton Florida and deals with sexual and intimacy issues and family and relationship counesling. Sexologist Dr. Arlene Krieger, PHD, America's 2nd Favorite Sexologist. To blog with her click here!
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