A few weekends ago I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to attend an annual event in downtown Raleigh called “Spring Equinox.” This event, or more precisely, a transition fair, was organized by a local law firm in Raleigh called Triangle Divorce Attorneys.

Essentially, the purpose of the transition fair was to provide people who are in transition (before, after, or during their divorce) with helpful community resources (because life does NOT end after the divorce). Event vendors included dating match making services, real estate agencies, mortgage brokers who gave away amazing spa packages, financial guidance services provided by a certified divorce analyst, and even things like energy healing sessions for your pets. And guess what? There were lots of amazing raffle prices, and …I won three prizes-can you believe this? (including the freaking energy session for my pup Harper, yay)!!!

As I was walking around talking to different providers and gathering helpful information for my own clients, I realized that I’ve never provided guidance through either blog posts or videos to my clients about what to do after their first couples therapy session. I’ve made videos and wrote blog posts on what to expect during your first couples therapy sessions and on how to choose a marriage counselor, but never about how to best prepare for your first couples therapy sessions to ensure you get the best out of this experience. So here it is. As always, I broke it dow to three easy digestible steps. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Make sure to NOT schedule anything right after the session.

Ideally, do not schedule anything for at least two hours. Believe me, you will need this time to process and metabolize what had happened during the session. And if you are anything like me, you might need well over two hours for this process, but I know that this might be unrealistic for many couples.

Step 2: Take about the session with your spouse or partner.

Discuss how did the session land on you-was it good, was it bad, what is hard? My couples know that I always end the session with this particular question (How was it for you guys being here today?”), but I realize that different therapists have different styles and might not end the session in this way. It is important to be honest with yourselves about this because it will be very hard to make progress in therapy when you can’t stand your therapist! Sometimes I see that one partner is more open to therapy and might like me more than the other. In this case, it becomes very important to bring it up during your therapy session. Believe me, whether you like me as a therapist or not is not an ego-driven experience for me, so my feelings will not get hurt. I care much more about making sure couples counseling will help you to achieve your goals and get better.

Step 3:  Practice and take many mental notes.

During your first couples therapy session, you will start exploring the cycle that you get stuck in (we all have cycles), the steps that each partner takes, the trigger points, the nature of the conflict and so on. Just observe, without judgement, and bring those observations to your partner and to your marriage counselor during the next session. And finally, take rest! You might have what we call a “vulnerability hangover” after the first couples session, which is the term that was coined by a prominent researcher Brene Brown. Vulnerability hangover happens after a person open up and becomes very vulnerable to the outside world (especially if this is something he or she does not do on a regular basis otherwise).

I hope this information helps you to better understand on what to do after your first couples therapy session in Wake Forest, North Carolina. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at (703) 347-3200 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person.

If you are looking for help with your relationships or marriage, you can read more about how I can help here. Please do not wait several years before you seek couples counseling. You deserve to be happy today!


Irina Baechle,LCSW is a founder, owner, and a licensed therapist at IrinaBaechleCounselingLLC. She specializes in helping distant couples and anxious singles build truly connected and meaningful relationships. She currently offers online and in-home counseling services to residents of Virginia and North Carolina (and most countries abroad). Click here to schedule your free 15 min consultation. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube for useful tips and resources.

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