Lots of articles talk about premarital counseling, and we’ve been doing our fair share of sharing them in the blog. Today, we’re going to focus on what a counselor should do to effectively conduct a premarital counseling session.
Great premarital counseling means carefully assessing the couple’s emotional and financial compatibility before embarking on marriage. Counselors should ask couples about their expectations, obligations, and motivations to marry as well as discuss people who influence them.
What is premarital counseling and who should conduct it?
Premarital counseling is a process of sharing and communication between the couple and the counselor. People who are engaged to be married are often confused about how premarital counseling works.
A great number of people agree that it’s better to undergo premarital counseling before getting married.
This allows you to discuss your goals in life, current situations in the relationship, financial issues, conflict resolution styles, and other things that are essential in building a healthy relationship. However, there are also people who think that such process is unnecessary or unhelpful.
Who should conduct premarital counseling? Here’s what you can do: A licensed therapist, spiritual leader or other trained counselor is ideal for providing premarital counseling because they have been trained in this type of service.
The purpose of pre-marriage counseling is to make sure that couples will choose their marriage partner wisely. In addition, pre-marriage counselors want to make sure that the couples will be ready emotionally, financially, socially, spiritually as well as physically when they say “I Do.”
What are some common fears when conducting premarital counseling?
There are many common fears when conducting premarital counseling.
- Although you have every intention of providing the best counceling available, there is always a fear that what you say may not be what is needed.
- Counselors often feel that they are inadequate for premarital counseling.
- There is a fear of rejection from the couple and even their families.
- There is a need to counsel couples who are in difficult situations such as one partner being HIV positive or if either partner has been unfaithful in a past relationship.
- Some pre-marriage counselors may have pre-conceived notions about what needs to be said, and premarital counseling can become more like preaching than listening.
All these fears come from a judgment of oneself, not the others. It is important that pre-marriage counselors find ways to overcome these fears because doing so will allow them greater intimacy with their clients.
The biggest fear of all must be letting the client know that you care enough to share all of yourself, your feelings, and your life experiences. Pre-marriage counselors should create a warm, open, nonjudgmental environment for the premarital counseling session.
How should pre-marriage counselors conduct premarital counseling?
When planning premarital counseling sessions, it is essential that the couple be scheduled at least 6 months before the planned wedding date. Read this article to know why and when to start premarital counseling.
The premarital counseling process often involves hard work and sacrifice by both partners. Talking about a marriage commitment is very different from actually making one. Preparation makes things go much more smoothly on “D” day!
Conduct and initial interview with the couple before starting the session officially:
An interview should be conducted with each partner individually before the session, and a follow-up interview should be done after this.
The follow-up interview is to make sure that the counselors are on track with what they should be doing and whether or not both partners are comfortable with the counselor being present during the session.
The individual interviews allow counselors to help each partner better understand their role as a couple, as well as discover any concerns about marriage in general that may be affecting them.
What are you looking for in marriage?”
It is helpful to try to determine if one or both partners feel trapped in the marriage. Or are they rushing into it? These issues will come up in sessions so it is important that counselors do their homework first!
Is there something that might cause you not to openly share your thoughts in the counseling sessions?
The counselor should make sure that both partners feel comfortable with each other and with the counselor.
How long have you been dating or engaged?
Counselors to try to determine how much time they have been dating (some people prefer to call it engagement).
Is one partner more enthusiastic about their relationship more than the other?
“Are you entering this relationship because society says so?”
During premarital counseling:
It is important for counselors to create an environment free from judgment. Counselors must always remember that all the information shared in this type of setting is confidential. If a client reveals hurtful or embarrassing personal information, counselors must respect their request not tell anyone else but themselves.
Counselors should never feel embarrassed or ridiculed if they share feelings that are different from what the counselor might expect.
It is also very important to make sure that both partners feel comfortable, and know that their fears will be addressed. The counselor should allow each partner to speak freely about any of the following issues:
Counselors should have a list of questions prepared in order to help guide the session as well as prepare them for any uncomfortable situations and possible problems. Remember, it is “what could go wrong” rather than “what already has gone wrong.”
This type of approach can help ease the tension which often builds up when talking about tough issues. It’s generally best not to jump into difficult areas right away but rather ease into a subject that will get the clients talking.
It’s also important to remember that the premarital counseling session should be a conversation, not a lecture.
Pay Attention to these things
- Come into marriage counseling with an open mind.
- Be aware of personal biases.
- Know your organization’s policies concerning sexual orientation, teen age pregnancies and domestic violence among others.
- Understand how our cultural upbringing can affect how we counsel people from different cultures. This means being respectful of other people’s views, while still maintaining professional boundaries.
- During the premarital counseling process don’t feel pressured or obligated to go through all material on this list, only address what is needed at the moment. You will develop trust among yourselves when you show flexibility in discussions. Remember marriage is not just an event but a lifetime commitment that requires changes on daily basis for success. Knowledge of self (characteristics,
- Don’t drag out something that should be taken care of immediately.
- Be ready to set the tone and pace of what is necessary.
This document was written to provide guidance on how to conduct a premarital counseling session with couples in order to help them succeed before they take their vows.
This document presents key information on how to conduct a premarital counseling session. However, we suggest to you to check with your country or state on any other requirements or guidelines.
The goal of premarital counseling is to increase the probability that couples will survive and “make it” in their marriage by helping them deal with potential issues before they become problems.
Couples who attend premarital counseling have a significantly better chance at surviving difficult times, such as financial hardship or illness than those who do not receive premarital counseling.
Statistics show that 90 percent of all divorces take place within the first 3 years of marriage. This statistic highlights the importance of preparing newlywed couples before they take the vows. Therefore, most states require couples wanting to get married to go through some form of instruction in order for them to obtain a marriage license.
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