Have you or someone you know had a bad experience with therapy? Perhaps you just didn't quite gel with your therapist or didn't get what you were hoping for?
Sometimes finding a therapist is like jeans shopping, it says it's your size and it looks like your size, but when you try them on, they just don't quite fit.......
I am always disheartened when I hear people say that they've tried therapy (once) and "it didn't work". They have closed the door to the possibility of it helping them after just one session. Sometimes it is a matter of seeing a couple of therapists. Sometimes, it can take a few sessions to feel the fit out. Kind of like breaking in a pair of new heels.
When you are doing couples therapy, it's even harder as you have two people's schedules, needs, and personalities that need to vibe with one therapists's style and way of working.
Specifically for couples therapy, its super important that both partners are clear about what their expectations and goals for therapy are. When reaching out in crisis, you may just call any therapist or the first one you see in your network or closest to your job. Those should not be sole deciding factors.
It's similar to when you are really hungry. Or as the millennials say, "Hangry".
I find that when I grocery shop hungry, I buy a bunch of stuff that doesn't line up with my actual needs. My prioritizing nutritional value goes out the window and I rush through the aisles choose snacks based mostly on emotion, so I can tear into those chocolate covered pretzels ASAP.
My actual goal and needs for the week might have been to cook a few healthy satisfying meals but somehow I end up with a variety of salty chips, ice cream, eggs, a new swiffer, and a year supply of toilet paper because it was on sale at 5% off.
My point is....
While searching for a therapist, you want to make sure that you are being thoughtful with asking questions that provide you with a deeper sense of if you would be a fit to work with them. What's important to you and what do you want to get out of therapy?
If you are seeking couples therapy to cope with infertility, would you go to a therapist whose background is in substance abuse just because he is in-network? Or would you go the extra mile in your search and find someone who has experience working with infertility?
What is important to you in a therapeutic setting? What has been most supportive and what has not worked for you in past therapeutic experiences? These are questions to ponder as you search.
Once you've found what feels like a fit for you.....it's important to be realistic about your expectations.
I hear so often, "How many sessions before we feel better? How long before this is resolved?"
Of course that's not an easy question to answer. But I can understand the frustration at not getting a clear fixed answer.
Think about it. We can order a lamp, laundry pick-up, and a dog-walker via our phones from the comfort of our beds. We can literally do most adult obligations and save time without putting pants on.
It really is amazing.
BUT, I often ponder how the accessibility of well....almost anything.....transcends into navigating relationship issues or mental health issues. Those require intentionality, hard work and hardcore energy to work through.
We can't order patience, healing, balance, forgiveness, or a new set of communication skills. We have to build them up and work them out like a muscle. If that muscle hasn't been used in some time, then we will likely feel really sore (before we feel better). We might not feel as achy if we'd just taken a week off from the gym.
Many of the issues that couples come to therapy with have had the problem for years and somehow expect it to vanish within a few sessions. If this problem has persisted and snowballed over the course of a few years, is it realistic to expect to "fix" it within 3 or 4 sessions?
If you would like to know more on how to get the most out of couples therapy and other common blocks that keep couples stuck, check out my latest: Thirsty Thursdays With a Therapist by clicking below: