Most couples at the very least have experienced a degree of distress before contacting a couple’s counselor. Some couples may be desperate for things to change. Some may feel like counseling is their last possible hope to salvage the relationship.
As an hour of couple’s counseling goes very quickly, an initial hour long session may feel like a mere scratching of the surface. There may not be sufficient time to really process what is happening in the relationship before it is time to leave the session and go back out into the real world.
Sadly, this has the potential to add insult to injury and to even make things worse for couples.
Whatever the complaint, it has likely taken weeks, months, or years to evolve. Giving thought, voice, and potential resolution to that complaint all take time.
Because of this, I ask all couples with whom I work to schedule at least a two-hour initial session. A three-hour initial session is even preferable. Here are four reasons why.
Efficiency: An hour of couple’s therapy flies by. When couples have a history of discord (as they typically do when they begin marriage counseling), an intensive session gives couples time to establish a trusting relationship with the therapist and to sort their thoughts and feelings more fully.
Having ample time to in the first session ultimately leads to more fruitful participation and interaction by affording couples the ability to absorb and assimilate the work they will be doing more thoroughly.
On the brink: Many couples consider marriage counseling to be the last stop before they consult a family law attorney about separation or divorce. For some couples, whether to stay or go is neither a decision they take lightly nor one that will be easy to make.
Whether to stay or go is a very big decision! An intensive session gives couples the time and space to discern and clarify without feeling rushed or making choices in haste.
Lost connection: Many couples report feeling disconnected and say things like, “we are two ships passing in the night”, or “we lead parallel lives”.
Having time constraints of an hour (or as little as 45 minutes depending upon the therapist or practice) can reinforce feelings of disconnect. Conversations tend to stay more content focused and superficial replicating real life.
Intensive initial sessions by design give time to go deeper which can parlay into depth and connection in real life.
Jump start: Couples often enter therapy feeling desperate. Their brains and hearts are ready. They want things to change and soon!
While longer initial sessions tend to be more emotionally concentrated, they provide a window of opportunity for couples to clearly conceptualize what they are experiencing, to set forth expectations for resolution, and to chart a course of action.
Many couples feel ready to do things differently, head things off at the pass and get a jump start.
A precaution: Please note that while an intensive initial session provides a useful spring board and back drop for couples to begin their journey of healing, it is in no way a substitute for ongoing therapy.
One long session is not at all likely to resolve conflict and angst which took up to years in the making. Couples will need support over time, skill building when there are set backs and reminders that sustained and ongoing effort on both sides will be required to flourish.
Do you feel ready? If you think an intensive initial session is exactly what your relationship needs to get a jump start, or if you are feeling distressed or desperate for things to be different, please call or text me at (303) 475-2757, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the online calendar to schedule your 20 minute no charge no obligation consultation today.