Choosing to seek couple’s counseling once the abuser has thoroughly worked through their issues is one of the most challenging and courageous things you can do for your relationship while you consider reconciling. Couple’s counseling with an expert therapist that confronts abuse and its dynamics and the occasional setbacks and successes can be extremely beneficial in helping you heal and grow as a couple and as individuals; however, it comes with unique difficulties as the reconciliation process most often involves facing into traumatic experiences that you may prefer to avoid. In last week’s blog, we discussed critical considerations for couples who are experiencing abuse to bear in mind when making decisions about therapy, as well as how to make wise decisions once the partnership is ready for conjoint therapy. https://themendproject.com/couples-counseling-part-1-when-it-helps-vs-when-it-harms/.
Once you are ready as a couple to attend therapy together, one of the keys to having a healthy experience is having the right expectations going in. Counseling is a process that can be difficult which very rarely satisfies our want for instant gratification. The personal growth in your life regarding trauma and learning to be firm with your boundaries will take practice. Likewise, the partner who has caused harm will not always get it right. There will be setbacks as you both work toward a better relationship. The change might be complicated and messy but the results can be long-lasting and life-changing.
To help you have the best counseling experience possible, we want to help you be aware of some must-know expectations to help set you and your spouse up for success.
1.Expect to Get Out What You Put In
Counseling can be compared to taking a long hike. When you look at the map, the path may seem long, too steep, and overwhelmingly difficult at first. By looking straight to the end-result you want in your relationship, finding the right path to get you there may seem like a daunting task. But the best things in life take work. Cautiously trust the process and take one step at a time with your therapist. The best way to do this is by focusing on the things you can control, your fears, your boundaries and how you will respond when you don’t feel respected
If you come into the counseling session ready and willing to grow, you are going to see change. Doing your part by opening up to your therapist honestly and taking in the information your counselor is telling you will allow you to be teachable and absorb everything that comes to the surface. While you cannot control your spouse or how others respond, you can choose proactivity to stay on top of your sessions to reach the personal relationship goals you have in mind.
2. Expect the Process to be Unique
Although many counselors are highly-skilled with good intentions for their patients, they are still human and may say things that do not sit well to your situation. Just as it takes time for you to open up to your counselor, it requires confidence on your end to firmly address issues that don’t feel right to you. Make an active attempt to give your therapist grace in the beginning when you feel they misunderstand you and work with them, helping them to help you by being open.
That being said, it’s important to note that some counselors are better than others, and not every therapist is a good match for dealing with emotional or physical abuse. It’s important to trust your instincts when it comes to counselors and if they are fit to help you and your spouse work toward your goals. Finally, it’s important for you to be willing to end therapy when you decide they are not equipped to help you.
3. Expect to Learn Things That Will Change How You View the Relationship
Change can be painful, and sometimes, your therapist will tell you things you do not want to hear or that are difficult to face. Remember that it is often a necessary part of the process and when you have a good therapist their intention is not to make you stay in a place of pain but to help you move toward confidence as you get free from things that once held you back. Most importantly, enjoy the time spent with your counselor and do not worry about saying everything “right” or even having a response to every question. It is good to have compassion for yourself and admit when you don’t have the answer about something or are unsure why you feel the way you do.
The choice to go to counseling with your significant other takes courage and can be a leap of faith. The right counselor will stick by your side and validate your concerns while also confronting harmful behaviors by your spouse in an effort towards truth and clarity in situations to provide valuable tools to overcome tough circumstances. If you want to start the counseling process but are lost on where to start, there are some resources in the footnotes of the blog to help.
We hope you enjoyed this blog. Join us on August 11 for a free training – see our website for details. Finally, please consider partnering with The M3ND Project in bringing our resources and training to those most in need by becoming a recurring donor. Make a small monthly donation of $15/month or more or a one-time donation here: https://themendproject.com/get-involved/. Or, share our blog with others and help grow our audience.