Do’s and Don’ts of Couples Counseling

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Couples counseling is for everyone.

I’ll say it again for the people in the back: COUPLES COUNSELING IS FOR EVERYONE!!!

Whether your relationship is on the rocks, you’re a newlywed, or you’re just looking to maintain your awesome partnership, couples therapy is an valuable tool to have at your disposal!

Why is Couples Counseling so Important?

Despite what movies and tv tell us, maintaining a longterm relationship is a lot of work. Once you get past the puppy love/honeymoon phase and start tackling life together, things change. All of a sudden sex becomes a negotiation instead of spontaneous and fun. The needs of kids come before date nights. And the Oxytocin that once swamped your brain with romantic feelings is long gone.

To some that may seem like a grim outlook, but it doesn’t have to be. Engaging in couples counseling can help you and your partner make the choice to keep loving each other. Even when it gets hard. And that’s where the true magic of a longterm, loving, partnership can be found.

In couples counseling you’ll receive tools to help you navigate the ups and downs of marriage. You’ll learn to communicate in ways that validate both parties. Therapy is also great for talking through big relational problems in a safe space. You might even find ways to re-ignite the spark in the bedroom you’ve been missing.

What’s not to love about all that!?

Beware – Not All Couples Counseling Experiences are Created Equal!

Yes, couples counseling is awesome. But be warned! Not all couples counseling experiences are created equal. Just like with individual therapy, you have to find the particular variant that works for you and your partner.

Do you favor the Gottman Method? Do you prefer a religious counselor to a secular one? Do Cognitive Behavioral exercises bore you to death? These are all really important questions to ask yourself and your spouse before engaging in couples counseling.

(Find out more about choosing the right KIND of therapy in our interactive adventure post: Therapy Quest)

You may go through a few counselors before you find the right version. It’s called counselor shopping and it’s 100% normal. So be flexible, open minded and find what works for you. Above all else, don’t let one bad experience end your couples counseling journey before it even begins!

And before you step foot in that office, check out this essential list of Do’s and Don’ts below.

Couples Counseling Dos and Don’ts

Do your Homework

Most counselors worth their salt give you take home assignments. Doing them ensures each appointment is productive and will also show your partner how dedicated you are to the process.

Don’t be Reactive

Couples counseling can get HEATED. Just remember, no matter what, it’s not productive to yell, scream, or stonewall it only makes your partner clam up and the process that much more excruciating.

Do Go Alone

You can always attend appointments on your own to learn about your part in fixing the relationship. You might discover some pretty interesting stuff and who knows, your partner might just come around once they see how much progress you’re making.

Don’t stay with a counselor you don’t like

Finding the right counselor is like dating – you have to go through a lot of them to come across one who suits you. That goes double for couples counseling. Both partners should feel comfortable with the therapist.

Do be attentive

Going into counseling with an attentive attitude is a must when working through relationship issues. Being engaged is a good way to build trust and respect with your partner during sessions and beyond.

Don’t take the fight home

You can take your most bitter frustrations out during appointments because the therapist is there to help you moderate. If you try to do it at home things can get pretty dicey pretty fast so leave the heavy lifting to the professionals please!

Do your research

Unknowingly going to a counselor who really only specializes in therapy for Purple Aliens is obviously a recipe for failure. Make sure you check out pricing, reviews, and specializations on an accredited site before you check in with your couples counselor.

Don’t expect the counselor to fix your problems

The therapist is just there as a guide and moderator. It’s not their job to fix your relationship but rather to show you tools for repairing it yourselves.

Do lead with compassion

Remember, you love your partner and vice versa or else neither of you would be in couple’s counseling. Approach the situation with that in mind and you can’t go wrong.

Don’t be late

If you consistently show up late, you’re only cheating yourselves and missing valuable problem solving time.

Do have individual sessions with the counselor

It’s important for your counselor to know you not only as a couple but also individually. This will give them a better sense of how to interact with both of you, what motivates each of you as individuals, and gives primo insight into things you might not say in front of your partner.

Don’t focus on the little stuff

Fighting about who left the dishwasher full during counseling is not only dumb but can actually unravel all the progress you’ve made because now you’re hurting each other’s feelings. If you find yourself clashing with your partner about small things it’s important to take a step back and ask what the deeper issues are and a good counselor will help you do just that.

Do measure Your success

It’s vital to keep up with your progress as your relationship improves. A great couples therapist is one who measures your success with diagnostic tools at the beginning, middle, and end of your time with them. Seeing how well you’re doing is a great incentive to keep going!

Don’t forget to mark your calendar

Dedicate a block of time specifically for counseling and make sure nothing gets in the way of it. Try not to miss a single appointment. Preserving this time shows your spouse your commitment to the process and builds a ton of trust which can only help you in solving your issues!

Wrap Up

So there you have it folks: the do’s and don’ts of couples counseling! If you’re ready to take the leap check out this article from and find a therapist in your area today!

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8 thoughts on “Do’s and Don’ts of Couples Counseling”

  1. Nice one .. Iam going to share this with my married friends .. They are the ones who make simple talks into big arguments..

    1. Had to circle back to this piece. I am a true advocate of counseling. Individually, it is huge for me and it still hurts that my ex was willing to end our marriage despite my request to seek counseling as a couple before making that decision.

      1. I’m so sorry your ex didn’t want to engage in counseling but I’m very glad it’s done so much for you. Big hugs <3

  2. Thank you for helping to reduce the stigma on couples counseling! Everyone can truly benefit. It’s so important what you said too about going alone if your partner won’t. We can only control ourselves at the end of the day. Give yourself the gift of a listening ear to see you through challenging times!

    1. You’re so welcome and it’s true everyone can benefit. Going on your own can be a true act of self care and can definitely help through tough times!

      Thanks for reading 😄

  3. Pingback: Do’s and Don’ts of Couples Counseling | Couples Counseling in Portland

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