Cambridge Couples Therapy - Encouraging Your Partner to Attend Therapy

posted Aug 19, 2012, 7:24 PM by AJ Centore   [ updated Aug 19, 2012, 7:36 PM ]
It is common in couples therapy to have one partner be reluctant.  This is sometimes because that partner doesn’t believe in counseling or they no longer have hope for the relationship.  Often, the latter is a result of the couple waiting until the breaking point before seeking help.  Here are ten ways to encourage your partner to join you in couples counseling.  They are not meant to manipulate – if you are attempting to manipulate, these will not work.  You yourself must also be dedicated to improving the relationship and yourself as a person.

First, don’t wait too long.  Couples counseling works best as an early line of defense.  If you’re experiencing problems, the first step is always to try to talk it out with your partner.  If that doesn’t work, consider getting help.  Often only a few sessions are required to resolve the problem.  If you have waited until that breaking point, don’t give up, even if it’s harder!  Therapists often help couples in that place.

Second, offer a trade or favor.  This is not blackmail– the point of this is to go beyond what is fair.  Consider giving something up for your partner in exchange for going.  This route might work if your partner isn’t willing to think that the counseling will help.

Thirdly, focus on your change.  Don’t make the counseling about your partner’s problems.  Make it about changing and improving yourself in the relationship, and ask for their help in doing so.

Forth, First show positive changes in yourself.  Show your partner the counseling is working by showing what you’ve learned, or even going to counseling by yourself before going together.

Fifth, Tell your partner you want to “partner” with them in improving your relationship.  Be willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal.

Sixth, remind your partner that the counselor is impartial.  If you’ve met the counselor first, offer a chance for your partner to meet them alone, or find a new counselor together.

Seventh, Try a phone consultation.  This can help a nervous partner ease into the idea of counseling.

Eighth, Ask what they would want out of the counseling, hypothetically.  This could help your partner from thinking of it as “your idea” and come up with the potential gains of going.

Ninth, If your partner thinks the relationship is doomed, you can use an “even if” argument.  “Even if” it fails, couples counseling can help you two end your relationship on a friendly note and help prevent current mistakes being repeated in a later relationship.  If it does end in divorce, thousands of dollars can be saved by separating on pleasant terms.

Tenth, Lastly, have hope.  Talk about how you think the counseling can help, that you have hope, and that you want to have a happy future relationship.  Being positive is a huge first step.