Most people have heard of pre-marital counseling, but not as many have heard of pre-engagement. In this post you’ll learn what it is and how it can benefit your relationship.
Choosing to get engaged and even marry someone is an important decision that can be assisted by going to pre-engagement counseling. I was a bit perplexed on how to approach the first time I had a client walk into my room and ask for pre-engagement counseling. As a student therapist at the time, I went to my supervisor for defining what this meant and for guidance. After I finished seeing that client, and with my supervisor's direction, my eyes were opened to the amazing tool of pre-engagement therapy.
So what exactly is it?
It is important to know that pre-engagement counseling does not mean anything is wrong with your relationship, nor does it mean that a couple must get married at the end.
Pre-engagement counseling breaks down the relationship to see if you and your partner are ready for the next step. Together, we will assess your relationship in the 12 categories, that Prepare / Enrich demonstrate through research as important, for a successful relationship. By going through these critical aspects of a relationship, we can see if you and your partner are fit for each other.
Why pre-engagement instead of pre-marital counseling?
As a therapist, I love providing premarital counseling but there are some frustrations I’ve run into when working with couples.
When couples are in a pre-wedding bliss, it can be hard getting them to explore flaws in their relationship. I’ve had couples show up 4 weeks before their wedding only because the counseling was required by their church. Even though, as a trained therapist, I saw issues needing addressed before tying the knot, these couples made it apparent they weren’t going to dive deep into their relationship. When couples already have the ring, the venue, the dress, the photographer, and and and.... Yeah, the last thing on their mind during premarital counseling is potentially calling the whole thing off. These types of couples tended to ignore their issues until after their big day. And boy oh boy, do those problems cause friction down the road in the marriage.
I do want you to know, that not all couples who come to premarital counseling are like the ones described above. I have had so many amazing couples come in ready to talk, learn, and grow together.
When is a good time to seek pre-engagement counseling?
This is different for every couple. Once you and your partner have been together for a while and find yourselves talking about the possibility of marriage, it is usually a good time to come in for pre-engagement counseling.
Why pay to see a therapist when we could see a relationship coach?
Ultimately, that choice is up to you. And yes, as a therapist I am biased.
As a trained therapist, I have the formal education and tools allowing us to dive deeper into your relationship. I am able to guide you and your partners through processing anything that may come up in our sessions.
When you go to see relationship coaches, they will not have the same level of professional competency as seeing a therapist. If anything comes up outside a coach's range of training, they will have to refer out and you may end up in my office.
How long does pre-engagement counseling take?
Again, it depends. I like to take a minimum of 6 sessions, this way we have time to dive into all the areas of a relationship. Also, it takes time for me to get to know you and your partner and for everyone to get comfortable to share and process your relationship.
These sessions are a safe place for couples to address any concerns they may have about each other.
If you are interested in therapy, I am located in the KC metro for in person session or I can offer telehealth services to anyone in the state of Kansas.