Approaching the subject of couples therapy with your partner can seem intimidating. There are a handful of reasons a partner may be resistant to therapy. Primarily, though, the enemy is frequently the idea of couples therapy versus their fear. Often in our couples therapy practice, couples have one partner who is terrified, but are quickly won over after the first session. With this experience, Medium reached out to Tribeca Therapy for advice on how to broach the decision of seeking couples therapy with your partner.
While our practice encourages seeking couples therapy even when the relationship isn’t in crisis, couples therapy, to many, can seem like something only couples who are in desperate shape take on. Speaking to writer Alli Hoff Kosik, our Founder and Clinical Director Matt Lundquist notes that if that’s the case, be honest, but if not, help bridge that gap. Is breaking up on the table? If so, then say so–“not,” as Matt explains, “as a threat but as a scenario you’re actively working to avoid.” If breaking up isn’t on the table, be reassuring from the start since this is typically the biggest worry about couples therapy.
It’s important to name the concerns and the reasons you want to seek couples therapy directly. Trying to trick a partner or bring couples therapy up in a sneaky way is likely to backfire and disrupt trust at a fragile time with a potentially anxiety-inducing issue. While not in the article, Matt suggests, for example, saying, “We’re fighting too much. It’s hurtful and unproductive, and we need to fix that. I think we need help–I’d like us to see a couples therapist.” This way, the demand is that the behavior change or issue be addressed, and the proposed solution is couples therapy rather than approaching therapy as a threat.
In Medium, Matt also recommends that couples talk together about the therapist they’d be most comfortable seeing. This can include sorting through therapist profiles on Psychology Today. Or if you’ve received a recommendation from a friend, add that with some other choices you’ve flagged, and invite your partner to take a look and pick the three or four he or she likes.
Another option Matt suggests is making a list of everything each partner would look for in a therapist: what you want in a therapist, what you don’t want, what you want out of the work and what you’re most afraid of. He explains, “In addition to giving some guidance to the search, this is also a way to begin to hold each other’s concerns.”