While your therapist will most likely provide you with some steps to prepare for your first session such as completing intake paperwork and assessments, there are some tips you can implement yourself to prepare for the first session.
Identify your goals: Before your first session, take some time to identify your goals for couples counseling. What issues do you want to work on? What do you hope to achieve from therapy? Having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish can help guide your therapy sessions and keep you focused on what's important.
Reflect: Think about the parts of your relationship that bring you joy and connection and the parts that bring you despair and hurt. Identify what part you play in these pieces and what part you think your partner plays. This helps you know what you focus on with your goals and focuses for couples counseling.
Be open and honest: Honesty is key to a successful couples counseling experience. Be prepared to share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns with your partner and your therapist. Avoid holding back or minimizing your emotions, as this can hinder your progress.
Prepare to listen: Communication is a two-way street, and it's just as important to listen as it is to speak. Be prepared to listen to your partner and your therapist without interrupting or becoming defensive. This can help build trust and facilitate more productive conversations.
Be willing to work: Couples counseling requires a commitment from both partners. Be willing to put in the work both during and between sessions. This may involve practicing new communication skills, implementing changes in your daily routine, or working on individual issues that are affecting your relationship.
Manage your expectations: While couples counseling can be highly effective, it's important to manage your expectations. You may not see immediate results, and there may be setbacks along the way. Be patient and trust in the process.
A final tip is to remember that it is okay to ask your therapist what they suggest you do to help for the first session and following sessions. You are not meant to be an expert on how to be a good client in therapy and that is not the therapist's expectation either. They want you to show up honestly and authentically.