Getting Your Partner to Join You in Therapy
It takes two to make a relationship work so therapy may be more effective if both you and your partner engage in the process. These are some actions you can take on your own and with your significant other to make the most of professional help in building a more loving and intimate connection.
Steps to Take on Your Own
- Hold yourself accountable. We all contribute for better or worse to the well-being of our relationships. Recognize your own role in any areas of conflict.
- Make a long term commitment. It’s typical for couples to need a dozen sessions or more to work through their issues. Even if you encounter initial reluctance, your mate may eventually want to join in.
- Do your homework. You and your therapist will probably develop a game plan with practical assignments you can work on in between sessions. As always, actions speak louder than words, so your good performance can inspire your partner.
- Consider your budget. Rates vary widely, but $100 or more per session is common. Many practitioners have administrative staff that can help you verify what your insurance will cover.
- Rule out violence. Take immediate action if you or your children are at risk for physical danger due to domestic violence. Community hotlines or your local police department can help you find a safe place to stay while you assess your options.
Steps to Take With Your Partner
- Adopt a positive tone. Reassure your partner of your love and devotion. Let them know that you want to make positive changes to dispel any fears that this is just a prelude to separation or divorce.
- Pick a good time. Introduce the subject at a neutral time when you have the privacy to talk it over. Give your partner time to reflect and get back to you if needed.
- Offer a test drive. Your partner may feel more comfortable attending an initial consultation or sitting in on a single session if you’ve already starting seeing a counselor. They can always come back for more if they like the experience.
- Select your therapist together. Team up on finding a professional whom both of you can talk with. Establish your criteria, make a short list, and vote on a final decision.
- Be sensitive to gender issues. Some people prefer male or female therapists. You may need some private sessions to supplement the appointments you attend together.
- Become aware of any sense of stigma. Unfortunately, there’s a long history of misunderstanding about mental health services. Help your partner to overcome any misplaced feelings of shame and recognize the true nature and benefits of counseling.
- Brainstorm all your alternatives. Some people find it more acceptable to talk with their pastor than with a psychologist. Self-help books or classes and lectures may also be an intermediate step that can create more openness to entering therapy.
- Evaluate your progress. Stay on track by clarifying your goals and assessing your results. You might want to keep a journal to record your impressions. Talking on the drive home after each session will help you communicate while events are still fresh in your mind.
Seeking help through therapy is a sign of strength that you believe in the value of your relationship and your ability to learn the skills and techniques that will improve your life together.
Talk with your partner about participating in counseling together while focusing on the improvements you can make under any conditions.