Couples have expectations about couple’s therapy prior to engaging in therapy. Experienced couples therapists expect that their clients will present to therapy with expectations, and engage their clients in a discussion regarding what they expect as an outcome. Having information about client expectations is useful to therapists as they attempt to understand the clients’ experiences and plan treatment.
Research shows that couple expectations about the therapist fall into three categories:
- Personality – is the therapist, caring, respectful and accepting?
- Education and training (i.e., what formal and post-graduate training has the therapists obtained)
- Sufficiently skilled – the therapists ability to facilitate the couple’s problem solving, what is the problem solving process?
Developing expectations for the outcome of therapy is an essential element of couple’s therapy. In my couples practice, clients tend to be therapy savvy, lead busy lives, and seek a brief therapy process that renders timely and meaningful long-term results. In brief couples therapy, the couple identify the problems that brought them to therapy and the events that led up to the problems’ development. This leads to discoveries about how the problems have (as an outcome of mutual influence) impacted their individual and couple functioning.
In setting goals, each client identifies how they want to experience their self and the relationship differently. In doing so, clients develop new expectations, strategies, and skills to create long-term positive change in their lives and relationship.