If you and your partner have decided to book an appointment with a relationship counsellor, here are two tips which you may find useful.
Decide in advance which topics you wish to discuss
The problems within a romantic relationship can often be quite complex and, as such, can be difficult to articulate clearly.
This fact, coupled with the nervousness that most people feel at the prospect of speaking to a counsellor for the first time, can sometimes lead to couples spending their initial counselling session discussing superficial, petty problems, instead of the serious, underlying issues that are damaging their relationship.
If you want to prevent this from happening, it's worth spending the night before your counselling appointment writing down a list of topics that you feel need to be discussed.
For example, you might want to address the lack emotional or physical intimacy within your relationship, or the fact that you are having difficulty trusting your partner (or vice versa).
If you are still communicating with your partner, you could do this task together. Alternatively, if the two of you are struggling to talk openly with one another, it might be better for each of you to write your own individual list.
This list-writing process will give you the chance to clarify your concerns and thus ensure that you are able to communicate your feelings clearly when the time comes to discuss them with the counsellor.
Do not attempt to undertake challenging activities after your first session
Relationship counselling sessions can be very emotionally and physically draining. They often involve the discussion of extremely sensitive topics that you may not have ever talked about openly before.
Many couples who go for counselling find that they experience a lot of different emotions during a single session, including everything from anger and frustration to sadness and fear.
Whilst this can be very cathartic, it can also leave people feeling exhausted. It's important to keep this in mind when deciding how to spend the rest of the day after your first session.
If possible, try to avoid doing any mentally or physically demanding activities. Instead, if your schedule allows for it, try to do something relaxing, such as taking a bath, watching a film or reading a book. This will enable you to 'recharge' and give you a chance to mull over the topics that were discussed during the session and decide what you might like to talk about at your next appointment.