what to expect at your first couples’ counseling session

However you got here, it’s likely you’re considering counseling for something that’s happening (or not happening!) in your relationship. Maybe you’ve been a together for a few months or years—maybe even decades—and right now you can’t seem to figure out how to make things better or “get back to how things were.” Counseling sounds nice, but you probably have no idea what to expect. Or, worse, you think you know, and you’re fairly certain it’ll be a grueling experience.

You likely have been conditioned to think seeking counseling says to others that something is wrong. The way I see things, as a pastoral counselor, counseling just means that something has happened

You might be thinking… I don’t want to be judged.

Well, luckily for you, when you meet with me, you’re entering a strict no-judgment zone.

I’ve never seen shame or blame help anyone heal. What you share with me certainly won’t change how I see you and, if you’re worried that opening up will change your partner’s views, I can help ensure that doesn’t happen either.

You might be thinking… What if he sides with my partner?

Nope! You will never catch me picking sides… unless you have kids, that is. If you have kids, I’m on their side. You might have heard there are three sides to every story. There’s always his side and her side, and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. I’ve never found myself, in any session, pointing to the husband or wife and saying, “Yep, he or she is right… you’re the problem!” 

You might be thinking… Talking about it will only make it worse.

You might have a misconception that counseling is like therapy… a lot of time spent rehashing old arguments and being asked, “How did that make you feel?” Well, that’s not true.

Less than 5% of the session will be spent addressing what happened. The other 95% will be spent exploring the “WIN,” my acronym for “What’s Important Now?” You can argue, for free, on your own time. So, I make sure your time spent with me is valuable, even when it means squelching a pain filibuster or calling a halt to an argument. 

You might be thinking… I don’t want somebody telling me what I should do, especially a pastor.

I won’t “should” all over you. (See what I did there?) All jokes aside, I’d rather help you find out what your options are and, more importantly, what you want to do than try to tell you you “should” do.

You might be thinking… I can’t afford it.

I know all too well that’s it’s easier to throw money at tangible things—a nice dinner, a much-needed vacation, or an opportunity to “Treat Yourself”—than it is to invest in your relationship. Think about this: What will it cost you if you do nothing?

It’s my number one goal to be quick and effective. I want to fill your tool belt with the means to live a fulfilled life with a healthy marriage or relationship, NOT to have you coming back to me for a solution to every quarrel. After all, if I do my job well, you’ll help me eliminate the stigma against couples’ counseling by encouraging your friends and family to get help if they need it!


As you may have gathered by now, I’m a solution focused counselor. I’m not passive. I share techniques and ideas that I’ve collected over the years to help you heal what hurts so that, even after the first session, you’ll be able to feel improvement. I love hearing clients say, “That makes sense,” because it means we’ve uncovered a tool, addressed how to use it, and they feel it will come in handy!

I’m happy to elaborate on any of the above or answer other questions as well. I offer a free phone consultation to help you determine if I’m the right fit for you. Let me know how I can help; it’s my life passion.

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Greg Griffin is a Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.