Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

How to Prepare for Couples Counseling

Posted: September 14, 2014 by info@uncommonlovepdx.com

It is not unusual to feel a little nervous before your first couples counseling or marriage therapy session. Preparing by paying special attention to self-care can be incredibly beneficial in making the most of your investment in couples therapy.

There are four main elements I focus on in self-care: rest, reflection, exercise, and eat. Below, I outline these elements in relation to their impact on couples counseling sessions with suggested strategies for each. Try these before your appointment to prepare for a productive and powerful session.


Before any event that might be stressful, invest in rest and relaxation. Make sure you get the sleep you need, take a nap, or take it easy the day of the event. Some of my clients find that creating space in their day to rest and relax before coming to therapy can strongly impact their session. If you need help relaxing, consider trying acupuncture or massage at a clinic near your provider's office.


Therapy is usually most effective when clients take time between sessions to consider and reflect on their session. Often clients leave a session with specific reflection questions or topics. It can be useful to set aside time before session to review the work from your previous session and set intentions for your next appointment. A few of my clients frequent the nearby coffee shops to sit and review their work with a cup of tea before coming in. For many, journaling is a great way to reflect between sessions. I provide clipboards with paper in session, but many bring their journals to draw, write and reflect or to share the thoughts that come up in-between sessions.


General wellness is critical to psychological wellbeing. Many of my clients balance anxiety and depression by starting a 30-minutes a day walking, cycling, or jogging routine. Make sure you get some exercise the day of your appointment to help clear your head and get into the right frame of mind for your couples therapy work. That might mean biking to session, walking in a nearby park or joining a gym.


One of the most common denominators in couple’s conflicts is low blood sugar. Too many of us rush around all day without eating regular healthy meals. It is not uncommon for low blood sugar to turn a session into a crankiness fest. Try to eat something light before coming to session, or plan ahead and go (together or separately) to one of the great restaurants near your therapist's office on your way to your appointment.

These four pillars of self-care can help you really invest intentionally in marriage counseling or couples therapy.

Remember: rest, reflect, exercise, eat!

Tags: relationship and family