Your partner has decided to go to therapy. Maybe you wonder why. Maybe you see the need for therapy and are in support of it. Maybe you even recommended it. But now what? What should you expect? Every person is unique, and therefore every therapy experience is unique, but in general, you might notice some changes.
- Your schedule might change. Therapy is a process that takes place over many sessions, often over a period of months or years. This requires time and commitment on the part of your partner. It may also take time from you, whether to help with relational tasks your partner can no longer do (e.g. if you share children), or just in general, as your partner has less available time overall.
- Your budget might change. Therapists are trained professionals. Spending time with them costs money (Care, 2019). While insurance may help and some therapists offer sliding scale fees, therapy is still an investment. Many families need to budget for therapy as a regular expense for the duration of the service.
- Your partner’s support needs might change. Therapy is hard work. It often involves diving into attachment, childhood wounds, hopes, dreams, and fears. As such, it can be quite an emotional process (Care 2019; Thorpe, 2019). Depending on your partner’s coping skills and attachment style, therapy might elicit a need for additional support. This may include more affection, more space, more rest, etc.
- Your partner’s relational style might change. Attachment is the emotional bond that occurs between two people (Staff, n.d.). Attachment styles, though stable, are plastic and can change over time (Grund, n.d.; Manson, n.d.). Often, therapy helps promote changes from an insecure to secure attachment style. This is positive for a relationship in the long term, but in the short term, may feel uncomfortable. A partner may set more boundaries (Schatter, 2017). A partner may ask for more equal sharing of duties (if the relationship is currently unequal). Your partner may still value you and want to be with you, but the dynamics of that relationship might change.
- Your partner might change. The goal of therapy is change, positive change that improves overall functioning (Bayer NeuroBehavioral Center, n.d.). About 75% of people who go to therapy report some benefit (Ching et al, 2022). This benefit may look like improved coping skills, more calm, increased satisfaction, and fewer sick days to name a few (Parekh & Givon, 2019). Change may not be external, though. It may be internal, and that might be a change noticed by your partner more than you. Remember, people are unique, and so are the results of therapy.
Your partner has decided to go to therapy. You have decided to support them. Good for you! You are noticing changes. Hopefully they are for the better! If you are struggling with the changes, though, it might be helpful for you to go to therapy as well, or to find a couple’s therapist for the two of you. The goal of therapy is growth and enrichment. Who knows what changes might happen if you embrace therapy, too!
Bayer NeuroBehavioral Center. (n.d.) Psychotherapy.
Care, C. (2019, January 18). A guide to supporting a partner in therapy. Medium.
Chin, J., Londono-McConnell, A., Ducharme, E., Gock, T., Lonning, B., Molitor, N., Polowcyzk, D., & Ritz, M. (2022, March 16). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. American Psychological Association.
Grundy, N. (n.d.). What is attachment theory and how it can help you. Life Support Counselling.
Manson, M. (n.d.). Attachment styles and how they affect your relationships. Mark Manson: Life Advice That Doesn’t Suck.
Parekh, R., & Givon, L. (2019, January). What is psychotherapy? American Psychiatric Association.
Schattner, I. (2017, May 25). When one person changes in a relationship. PsychCentral.
Staff. (n.d.). Attachment. Psychology Today.