starting couples counseling

Starting Couples Counseling? 4 Things To Ask Yourself First

So you’re feeling like you need couples therapy. Maybe you’re wishing for a better connection with your partner or just feel stuck in the same negative patterns. No matter what your reasons, you should think through a few things when starting couples counseling. Here are four things to ask of yourself and your partner. These tools will help to better prepare you and set the process up for success from the get-go.

Discuss and identify your goals for starting couples counseling.

What do you hope to get out of couples therapy? Discuss your goals prior to starting therapy. Do you hope to resolve an on-going conflict? Want to re-ignite passion? Or just want to feel more connected? It’s okay if your goals differ slightly from one another. Just be sure to talk about them. Improving communication, negotiating conflict, addressing intimacy, sex and closeness are common reasons couples seek therapy.  Develop a clear sense and similar goals to ensure you get what you want out of therapy.

Are you both committed to the process?

It’s okay to feel apprehensive, ambivalent or any mix of other emotions about therapy. But it is essential that each of you approach the process with openness. That means not just being engaged in session, but also willing to make time in your schedule for it on an ongoing basis.  Couples therapy won’t work well if one of you is threatening the other about it or you won’t show up.

Choose the right couples therapist for you

Do this part together. As you search for a therapist, discuss the important criteria you want him/her to have.  Do gender, ethnicity, experience or expertise working in particular frameworks matter to you? Do you want someone that works with specific communities? and the National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network are great resources that allow you to search for someone using your preferences. Also, remember many therapists offer a free consultation to determine if working with that therapist is a good fit. At our practice, we offer a phone consultation to all incoming couples to find the right fit.

Will you work on yourselves in between sessions?

Couples therapy doesn’t end in your weekly sessions: it is an active process outside of session too. You can expect to learn new ways of engage with each other or exercises to help you in everyday life. Couples must be willing to do the work on themselves between sessions in order for the process to be productive and effective. Take notes after sessions, reinforce what you learned and most importantly reflect on all the progress you make!

As you consider couples therapy, remember: identify your goals first, find a therapist that you think will be supportive and then commit to the process of learning to be with each other in new ways.

Couples therapy can be a healthy challenge for you and your partner. If you can both be on the same page about the process of starting couples counseling, it’s going to allow you to concentrate on what’s really important: working on your relationship.

What other things do you want to consider before starting couples counseling?


Glenn Zermeno, LCSW - NYC Therapist

Glenn Zermeno, LCSW - NYC Therapist

Psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC
Offers individual and couples counseling in NYC. Specializes in LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS, relationships Issues, and depression.
Glenn Zermeno, LCSW - NYC Therapist
8 replies
  1. Omar
    Omar says:

    I really like the part about “Working on yourselves outside of couples therapy”. I find that many individuals do not commit to self improvement during the couples treatment process. It’s so important!

  2. Cate
    Cate says:

    These are great points to consider. Setting an intention before coming in for that first appointment can be so helpful in starting off on the right foot and seeing results quickly.

  3. Zach
    Zach says:

    Excellent post. You raise some really important factors related to the process of regaining a sense of connection (or strengthening a bond) with a partner.

  4. Richard
    Richard says:

    Great points and most couples don’t think to remember the strides and accomplishments they make during their work. Nice to be reminded when the work gets hard!!! Thanks Glenn

  5. Jack Titchener
    Jack Titchener says:

    Great advice for couples counseling. Some of my closest friends are only together today because they tried it out and stuck with each other through the sessions. A lot of people have a stigma about couples therapy, but this article does a good job addressing the need to resolve conflicts with your partner. Thanks!

  6. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I haven’t been on good terms lately and have been considering starting couples counseling. I like that you suggest working on our relationship inbetween sessions and using notes to help us improve. We’ll have to identify some goals then start making plans on when to meet. Thanks for the help.

  7. James
    James says:

    Great information Glenn! My favorite is committing to the process with an openness to grow and develop the relationship into a stronger Union. Nothing will change if the couple is not equally invested in a change for better. Nice work!


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