• Vaughan Relationship Centre: Counselling to Empower.

Many couples who come to us have struggled for years, having the same argument over and over again, feeling the same dissatisfaction, and experiencing the same loneliness in their partnership. It can be difficult to change well-established patterns after such a long time of shaping them.

Research shows that it takes five positive interactions to outweigh a single negative experience in any relationship. Don’t give up if you are experiencing more negative experiences than positive ones and feeling dissatisfied in the relationship. We can support you in understanding what is happening in your relationship to create these negative situations and how you can get out of this negative cycle and have more positive interactions in your relationship.

Starting couples therapy can feel daunting, but understanding what to expect during your first appointment can ease some of the anxiety.

Your First Appointment

Your first couples therapy appointment at Vaughan Relationship Centre will last approximately 75 minutes. This extended session allows ample time to delve into the dynamics of your relationship and establish a clear path forward.

During this first session, you will:

• Meet with Your Therapist as a Couple: You and your partner will sit down with your therapist to provide a comprehensive history of your situation. This is your opportunity to share your story, express your concerns, and articulate your goals for therapy.

• Discuss Your Situation: Your therapist will facilitate a discussion to understand the nuances of your relationship. This includes identifying the interactional cycle that may be creating difficulties. Many couples find themselves caught in a negative loop or cycle, and recognizing this pattern is the first step toward change.

• Set Goals for Therapy: Together, you’ll outline what you hope to achieve through therapy. These goals will guide the therapeutic process and help measure progress over time.

Couple Therapy Individual Sessions

After your first session, your therapist will also meet with each of you individually. We prefer to have individual sessions with each of you. These individual sessions, which last 60 minutes each, allow for a deeper exploration of personal histories, thoughts, and feelings. They are a crucial component of the process, providing valuable insights that inform the overall therapy plan.

Information Gathering

Throughout these sessions, your therapist will gather information about your relationship, and about you both as partners. This can include:

• Your personal history
• Your relationship history
• Your family history

This information helps the therapist understand the context of your relationship and tailor the therapy to your specific needs. It’s a nonjudgmental process designed to support both partners in reaching their goals.

Emotionally Focused Therapy

We utilize a method known as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) when assisting couples in need of professional guidance. EFT has been proven to have a higher success rate with couples than other forms of therapy. This approach views emotion as the key to understanding how we experience ourselves and our relationships, as well as how our interactions with one another and ourselves have positive and negative impacts. It enables a stronger development of closeness and an effective means of building intimacy through a more delicate and thoughtful understanding of the inner workings of our minds and emotions.

Understanding Interactional Cycles

An interactional cycle refers to a recurring pattern of behaviour and communication between partners that often leads to conflict or distress in a relationship. These cycles are typically characterized by negative interactions that escalate tensions and reinforce each other’s negative behaviours, creating a loop that can be hard to break without external intervention.

A key focus of couples therapy is understanding and addressing the interactional cycles that contribute to relationship difficulties. Your therapist, as an outside observer, can help you recognize these patterns and develop tools to break free from them. This process is instrumental in fostering healthier interactions and improving your relationship.

Understanding Discernment Counseling

Discernment counselling is a unique form of therapy designed for couples who are uncertain about the future of their relationship. It helps each partner reflect on their contributions to the relationship breakdown and make an informed decision about whether to pursue couples therapy or consider separation. You can learn more about our process regarding discernment counseling here.

Finding the Right Fit

The initial sessions are also an opportunity to determine if your therapist is a good fit for you and your partner. It’s essential that both parties feel comfortable and confident in the therapist’s ability to guide them through this process. Similarly, the therapist will assess if the clients are a good fit for the therapeutic approach the therapist offers.

Goals of Therapy

Ultimately, the goal of couples therapy is to equip you with the tools and insights needed to navigate your relationship more effectively. The therapist helps partners understand each other and facilitates communication. They support you to achieve your goals in a neutral, nonjudgemental space.

The aim is to support you in such a way that you become less reliant on therapy over time. By addressing communication issues, rebuilding trust, resolving underlying problems, and fostering a deeper emotional connection, couples therapy aims to help partners build a solid foundation for a lasting and fulfilling partnership.

It is important to note that while your therapist is there to help, true success comes from the work both yourself and your partner put in. Working through the exercises your therapist provides will help you the most. That being said, a therapist cannot force a relationship to work: It is up to you to determine whether or not you should stay together.

Starting couples therapy can be a transformative step towards improving your relationship. By understanding what to expect during your first appointment, you can approach the process with greater confidence and clarity. Whether you’re working with a couples therapist in person or engaging in relationship counselling online, the key is to remain open, honest, and committed to the journey ahead. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and taking this step can lead to profound positive changes in your relationship.