You and your spouse have at last completed your final couple’s counseling session. You have worked with your therapist for about six months. You have learned a lot about yourselves to the degree that you think you are ready to continue without the therapist’s help. Great. Now what?
Relationships & More is a counseling clinic that serves clients throughout Westchester County, NY from its Rye location. Their therapists say it is not unusual for clients to not know what to do once counseling sessions end. Though moving forward after counseling can be challenging, success can be encapsulated in the following phrase: apply what was learned in counseling.
This is not an attempt to oversimplify the complicated. Reminding clients to apply what was learned is to remind them of the entire point of couple’s counseling. No amount of counseling can fix a broken relationship independent of the effort put forth by the participants. Counseling is merely a tool designed to help couples figure out why their relationships are troubled and work together to find solutions.
Solutions Don’t Apply Themselves
Finding solutions goes back to the idea of applying what was learned in counseling. Perhaps you have a couple who learns that the biggest problem between them is selfishness. After coming to terms with that truth during counseling, they came up with ways to avoid being selfish. They proposed strategies to encourage one another to be more selfless. That’s great. But what they learned, along with the solutions they devised, are of no value if they are not implemented.
Something else couples should embrace in the months and years following couple’s counseling is the idea that practice makes perfect. Not everything learned during counseling is going to be applied overnight. These things take time. And even when applied, couples aren’t always going to get it right. But with practice, things do get easier.
Reflect on the Past
Applying what was learned in counseling is the first step to moving on without a therapist’s help. The second step is to make an effort to reflect on the past. This reflection has two separate components:
- The Couple’s Relationship – It helps for the couple to reflect on their past relationship. It helps to reflect on how they started out, how they got to the point of needing therapy, and how they worked through that therapy to find a better relationship.
- The Therapy – It also helps to reflect on the therapy itself and what was learned. Some therapists advise their clients to take notes during sessions, purposely so they have something to look back on when trouble arises. That is good advice.
Reflecting on the past is a lot like learning from history. When couples remain cognizant of where they were compared to where they are, they may be more motivated not to make the same mistakes over again.
Accept Life’s Imperfections
Moving on from couple’s counseling forces a couple back into the real world of their relationship. With that relationship comes a whole lot of imperfections. That’s life. Accepting the imperfections makes it easier to appreciate all the good things. This sort of attitude can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy relationship for years into the future.
Maybe you went into marriage with a fairytale image stuck in your brain. You found out that your fairytale was actually a comedy of errors. Welcome to the club. Don’t fight it. Instead, embrace the reality of love. Apply what you learned in counseling and do so with an honest effort. Reflect on the past and accept life’s imperfections. You are likely to do better that way.