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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Acosta M.A., AMFT

Couples Therapy What to Expect

When do we go to couples therapy? Usually it’s a crisis or a breaking point that we find ourselves in and are desperate for help. We want the relationship to be put back together the way it used to be once upon a time or for someone to comply to with what we feel is reasonable.

What are some pitfalls clients present in couple’s therapy?The most common conflict I run into in couples therapy is one person in the dyad trying to “fix” the other person or at a minimum get them to conform/comply to their wishes whether that’s behavior based, emotional availability, lack of intimacy, and so forth. This is generally intended from a good place with good intentions but when we try to change someone we find that perceived happiness isn't found.

What if I want my partner to listen to me more or should I just give up? Absolutely not, there is tremendous value in advocating for what we want in relationships which leads to a greater quality of life. Finding and role playing healthier ways to work together would be a better option as opposed to changing someone.

Want vs. Need, what does it mean? One method to determine what we advocate for might look like this. Do I “want” this or that? Or do I “need” this or that? In asking this question to ourselves we can begin to explore and put into perspective what’s necessary vs. what’s a nice to have in a relationship.

Okay so I’ve sorted my wants vs. my needs, now what?In reference to the differentiation between want and need and negotiating this with our partner what’s next is of vital importance. Acquiring the services of an “unbiased” clinician to help the couple navigate through some of the challenges that can and do come up will be crucial.

Accepting that you will be challenged. This is perhaps one of the harder parts of couples therapy where we feel threatened, offended, or insulted by the therapist in the session when in all actuality what they are doing more often than not is calling us out on or stuff or calling it to attention especially if behavior is problematic and/or disruptive. When we can refocus our attention on what brought us to therapy in the first place as opposed to what the therapist said, did, or wore we can focus on what’s most important in the session (yourselves as individuals and as a couple). Because at the end of the day that is what you are there for.

Daniel Acosta M.A., AMFT is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Mission Viejo, California. He works in private practice with men, women and adolescents and provides individual, couples, pre-marital, family and marital therapy for clients in Orange County. If you would like to schedule a session he can be reached at 949-943-7820 or at:

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