How to Prepare for Your First Relationship Guidance Session

Last Updated:
November 1, 2023

So you and your partner have decided to attend couples therapy. Congratulations - you’ve just taken the first step towards getting back on track with your better half. The next step? Attending your first session (something that might naturally feel a little daunting). 

To help ease those first-session nerves, the experts at Ritual have put together 10 tips to help you prepare for your first couples guidance session including what to do during and before to make sure you both get the most out of the experience. 

What happens in your first couples guidance session?

Before we dive in on how to prepare, it’s important to know what you’re preparing for! Generally, the first couples counseling session will involve the expert getting to know you and your partner and figuring out how they can offer a safe space to guide you both toward mending your relationship issues. 

Remember, it’s not a job interview, there are no right or wrong answers! However, if you want to prepare as best as you can, consider the following tips from Ritual’s experts. 

10 tips to prepare for your first couples guidance session

Choose the right expert

First things first, it’s important to make sure you choose the right form of relationship help and of course, the right expert. This might look a little different for everyone - some might prefer an in-person session with a couples therapist whereas others might prefer online relationship guidance that works around their schedule (like Ritual). Whatever your preference, make sure your chosen expert is experienced, licensed, and has a track record of helping couples with similar issues.

Define your goals

What do you want to achieve from speaking with a relationship expert? Make sure you set clear and realistic goals before your first session. Maybe you want to improve communication, navigate new challenges, or simply strengthen your bond - having these goals in mind will give both you and your therapist an understanding of your wants and needs for the process going forward.

Explore New Solutions to Ongoing Problems
Get started

Communicate openly

Effective communication skills are key (in couples therapy, and relationships). Before your first session, try being open and honest with your partner, discuss your concerns and expectations, and let them know of any particular issues you would like to address during your sessions. Let your partner express their thoughts and feelings too - remember, you’re in this together!

Be open to change

Try your best to lower your guard before you begin receiving relationship help. The experience can be transformative only if both partners are willing and open to make changes. Don’t be taken aback if you are expected to adapt your behaviour, attitudes, or expectations to better your relationship. While it might feel slightly uncomfortable at first, change is necessary for growth.

Prepare a list of concerns

Prepare a list of concerns and issues that you would like to address. This can give both yourself and the expert an idea of where to begin. This list might include topics like communication barriers, boundary burdens, intimacy concerns, or pretty much anything relevant to you, your partner, and your relationship. Bringing this list along will also help to make sure you don’t forget to mention anything important during your first session.

Learn How to Make Your Relationship Last
Get started

Reflect on your relationship

Make time to reflect on your relationship so far before your first session . Think about all the positive aspects of your relationship and what drew you towards each other in the first place. This type of reflection can help with gaining a deeper understanding of your own emotions and motivations behind attending couples therapy.

Manage your emotions

Be prepared to experience emotions you might not have experienced in a while. Throughout your experience, you might be expected to revisit past conflicts which can naturally stir up strong feelings (feelings that you might not want to revisit). If this happens, know that it is completely normal. Try your best to manage your emotions, be open to understanding your partner's point of view, and avoid becoming defensive or confrontational.

Be open and honest

It’s important to be open and honest with your partner and the expert. Don’t hold back information that could hinder your progress and don’t be ashamed to admit when you may have messed up in the past. The couples expert is there to help, not judge. Your honesty will only benefit everyone long-term to ensure you’re getting the best guidance and support for your partnership.

Bridge the Gap of Misunderstandings
Get started

Listen actively

Communication is a two-way street! Remember that while you may have a whole list of feelings and concerns you want to address, your partner likely will have some too - when they speak, actively listen, try not to interrupt, and make an effort to understand their point of view. You will be surprised how impactful active listening can be in mending a relationship.

Don't expect instant results

Couples therapy works, but it doesn’t work overnight. The process will take time and you may attend several sessions before you see any noticeable improvements in your relationship. Practice patience and stay committed to the process and you and your partner will reap the benefits in the end. 

Considering seeking relationship guidance online? Ritual is an affordable, schedule-friendly service that helps you heal and turn crisis into opportunity with the help of our experienced relationship experts, and science-backed method.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Tell us about yourself: Start by having a session with one of our experts. Together we explore your goals and needs, to make sure our guidance stays relevant and effective.

  2. Get your personalized plan: Decide which areas of your relationship you want to focus on. You’ll receive insights and tools to help you get where you want to go, while better understanding your partner (and yourself).

  3. Make daily steps forward: Improvement becomes a habit, with new skills and approaches you’ll start practicing right away. Weekly 1:1 sessions with your expert will help you track the changes as you go, and keep you motivated in the process.

Start your journey with Ritual today.