When Couples Therapy Happens at Different Speeds

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Many couples reach a point where they decide it’s best to seek out couples counseling.  However, Shameela Keshavjee, MS, LMFT-S notes in a post for GoodTherapy.org, that one person may be ready for therapy while the other is nervous and scared of the prospects.

Keshavjee notes that it’s not unheard of for partners to have different reactions to the therapeutic process.  There could be several reasons for this, such as:

  • One partner sought out therapy before, and had a positive experience.  This can include spirituality, self-help, and individual therapy.
  • Because of previous therapy experiences, this partner may already have the ability to be patient and compassionate toward themselves and others.
  • The partner who has done more self-exploration will be more comfortable  talking about their emotions.  They will already have an emotional vocabulary to draw upon.
  • This familiarity with therapy may incline this person to jump into couple’s therapy, ready to work.

On the flip side, the other partner may feel hesitant toward therapy. They may see their partner as already far ahead of them and progressing at a faster rate. Having not done this work before, it’s going to take them awhile to reach the same place their partner has. Knowing that this is OK and can help this partner figure out for themselves what the therapy process will be to them.

One helpful ideas is to engage in both couples and individual therapy. Individual therapy can help a partner get more comfortable with therapy and provides an opportunity to continue to discuss issues.

Keshavjee makes that point that in order for couple’s therapy to work, both partners need to aim towards a common goal. She advises couples to express empathy to each other and learn to accept uncomfortable feelings, emotions, and thoughts.

Want to learn more about how couple’s therapy can help your relationship? Read the full article here: “Couples Therapy When You’re in Different Stages of Healing.”

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