Be supportive.
March 1, 2011 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Is it inappropriate to speak to our couples therapist ahead of time to foreshadow a topic I want to discuss in our next session?

When we began therapy, our therapist emphasized that she was our therapist and that she could not administer to either one of us alone. I have a sensitive topic to bring up for the next session, one that I want a therapist to be there to mediate the discussion. Am I out of line calling her to say that I want to discuss "X" and it's going to be difficult for me, and I need her support during the session? By support I don't mean take my side, but rather assist in remaining on-topic and not having the conversation derail.

How would you phrase this request?
posted by teg4rvn to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd imagine that this is something you could say at the very beginning of the session, with the other half of your couple there, so that both the therapist and your other half know that you want to discuss something difficult for you and would appreciate it if they would help you stay on-topic. This is not something your therapist will need to prepare for ahead of time, or something that it seems like should be kept secret ("this" being the fact that it's difficult for you to discuss and you need help staying on topic") from the other half of your couple.
posted by brainmouse at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2011 [15 favorites]

Discuss it in the session before you bring up the topic.

"Doctor, I want to discuss something today that is hard for me to talk about and I hope you can help keep us on topic."

No need to have a secret pow-wow beforehand.
posted by inturnaround at 9:24 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]

Just bring it up at the beginning of the session, because it's therapy for the couple. If this is sensitive issue, that's fine, but it needs to be brought up in the context of a couple, not as you needing something something from a couple's therapist.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just what brainmouse said. Say it with your partner there, because you and your partner are the ones who actually hold the responsibility to "stay on topic", not the therapist. She does this every day, and she can handle it. You and your partner are both adults, and you know how to be respectful of one another, so you can do it.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:26 AM on March 1, 2011

If your spouse/partner doesn't know about it, and agree to it, yes.

Also, you can ask the therapist to be supportive of both of your, and say that this is a particularly sensitive topic for you, but that's as far as that should go. I think the best option is briefly explaining the situation in a SHORT note, letting your spouse/partner look it over and ok it, and then emailing it to the therapist, making it clear that the communique is cleared by both you and your partner such as:

Dear Dr. X,

Bob has ok'd this message. I'd like to talk about Y, Z, during the next session, it is a sensitive topic for us, so I wanted you to be prepared for that, as well as the chance that we might occasionally get off topic. Bob and I both want you to make sure that the discussion stays on topic..

Thank you,

posted by arnicae at 9:27 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

By support I don't mean take my side, but rather assist in remaining on-topic and not having the conversation derail.

If your therapist is doing her job, this will happen whether or not you "foreshadow" the topic.

Agreeing with everyone above: it's perfectly reasonable to say this as a preamble during the session, with your partner, before you bring up the topic. It's not reasonable -- and would likely be counterproductive -- to try to do it behind your partner's back.
posted by ook at 10:28 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

What are your goals as a couple, for which you are seeking therapy? Would doing that be consistent with them?
posted by TruncatedTiller at 6:23 PM on March 3, 2011

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