Your First Session
What to Expect in Your First Meeting
It can feel a little intimidating, embarrassing, or downright uncomfortable reaching out to someone for assistance in rescuing a souring relationship. During our first meeting together I have three outcomes:
First, I want to make it safe to express what you are feeling and going through without intellectualizing, analyzing, talking down to or criticizing each other. No one gets to be right; no one is wrong. I want to give you the opportunity to speak your truth as you see it. I also want an opportunity to interact with you, ask you some questions to make sure it isn’t a mental health counselor that you should be seeing. I’ll give you a short assessment. You will talk. I will listen. Deeply.
Second, I want to assist you in uncovering what you are really arguing about. As I introduce you to the Six Human Needs you will discover most of the time what couples think they are fighting about isn’t the real argument. Some deeper hurt or frustration usually gets triggered by the way they express themselves if something is bothering them. For example, consider these snippets of common criticisms:
“You said were going to be home in time for dinner and again, you weren’t; you just don’t give a damn about me.”
“All you ever do is work. We never do anything together any more now that we live together.”
“You decide you are going to do the dishes and put the trash out and I’m supposed to get excited? You never help around the house.”
May sound very familiar sounding to anyone and everyone who has ever been in a relationship. The deeper emotional need of the complaining partner still goes unexpressed. Even worse, much of the time couples sweep their real emotional needs under the rug until seemingly out of nowhere a big explosion takes place. Often the receiving partner feels it “came out of no where.”
Underneath all criticism is a request. As we work together to re-frame or re-label common arguments you may be surprised to see what’s underneath your partner’s anger. For example, each of the above accusations could be re-framed in the following manner:
“I was so exhausted when I left work and it was important to have you there, not so much to help me fix dinner, but just for you to be there for me.”
“I really missed spending quality time with you and sharing those special moments we used to create together.”
“I was so grateful when you cleaned the kitchen and took out the garbage. It made me realize how much I need you to help me more often with the other household stuff.”
Third, as we wind down the session I want to get your stories. We start with the juiciest one first – the story of how you first met and fell in love. I like to end on this note -because of recent findings in neurobiology. I give you an assignment to help you deepen the new learning from this first meeting.
You leave with hope, or as one recent client stated, “We left here with more understanding about what was going on, and more hope for our relationship than we did with the three marriage therapists we’ve seen.”
Let’s just say that’s the power of Strategic Intervention. It helps to quickly uncover the deeper, hidden needs that you each bring to your relationship. This knowledge will set the stage for you to gain greater emotional intimacy and help you to love each other with new-found appreciation.