Marriage Counseling Questions to Ask Clients in Counseling Sessions

60 Marriage Counseling Questions to Ask Clients in Counseling Sessions

Over time, our relationships undergo transformations that mirror our evolving experiences and perspectives. As we grow, so do our relationships, adapting to the twists and turns of life. Marriage counseling, a form of psychotherapy, steps in to offer support to married partners grappling with persistent difficulties or distress that strain their relationship satisfaction. Keep reading to learn 60 marriage counseling questions you can ask clients in counseling sessions.

Distinguished from couples counseling, which caters to a broader spectrum of couples, marriage counseling focuses specifically on married couples seeking to address challenges within their union. It serves as a platform to rekindle connection, intimacy, and trust by equipping partners with new communication skills to articulate thoughts and emotions more effectively, potentially benefiting other facets of their lives beyond the marriage bond. Couples may seek counseling for various reasons, such as dwindling physical intimacy, navigating significant life changes, breaches of trust, or transitioning into new life phases.

Following a brief, solution-oriented approach, marriage counseling, as outlined by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), sets clear therapeutic goals from the outset, aiming for a defined endpoint. Employing a holistic perspective, it delves into individual experiences that influence the relationship, including factors like depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

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In light of divorce rates ranging from 40% to 50% in first-time marriages, the importance of marriage counseling as a crucial form of intervention cannot be overstated. This trend extends even to regions where divorce is less common, prompting new counseling methods designed to assist ambivalent couples or those uncertain about pursuing divorce, offering support and guidance through this challenging decision-making process.

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Examples of therapeutic approaches that may be used in marriage counseling include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- CBT can be used to help couples identify negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to the distress that they are experiencing within their relationship. Working to replace negative thoughts and beliefs that improve relationship satisfaction and improve the couple’s problem-solving skills.
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)- EFT can be used to help couples identify and verbalize their underlying emotions, which can then improve how they respond to each other, and improve their attachment to each other.
  • Family Systems Therapy- With a broader lens, Family Systems Therapy explores how a couple’s current pattern of interaction and communication is influenced by their family system.
  • Gottman Method – With an emphasis on building friendship and managing conflict, the Gottman Method can be used to find meaning again within a couple’s relationship. Couples will strengthen their connection and learn to work through conflicts healthily.
  • Imago Relationship Therapy – This therapeutic approach focuses on having both partners heal old wounds, and foster empathy and understanding towards each other. Previous concerns could be from a person’s childhood, previous relationships, or current relationship dynamics.
  • Narrative Therapy- Narrative Therapy can be used for couples who would benefit from reframing the narratives within their relationship in a way that empowers them and elicits positive change. Negative narratives are challenged, and new ones are formulated.
  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)- SFBT is a goal-orientated approach that focuses on finding solutions instead of focusing on their problems. Time is spent identifying strengths as well as setting specific and realistic goals that can help strengthen their relationship.

Getting Ready for A Marriage Counseling Session with a New Client

Preparing for your marriage counseling sessions lays the groundwork for a positive and productive experience right from the start. Begin by familiarizing yourself with any paperwork, referrals, or assessments provided beforehand, gaining insight into your clients’ current challenges and counseling objectives. With this information, sketch out a tentative session plan that can be adjusted as you gain further understanding of your clients’ needs.

In the initial session with a married couple, dedicate time to exploring their goals and motivations for seeking therapy. This sets the stage for establishing mutual expectations and understanding the counseling process. Emphasize the importance of mindful communication, keeping an open mind, and identifying shared priorities. Establishing clear boundaries, discussing active participation in sessions, and setting ground rules fosters therapeutic rapport, consistency, and trust within the counseling relationship.

After your first session, you should have a solid understanding of your client’s current challenges and the goals they would like to work towards. With this information, you may find it useful to find worksheets and activities that can be impactful for your clients. Examples of worksheets that could be beneficial include:

Marriage Counseling Questions to Ask Clients in Counseling

Marriage Counseling session questions can be used to explore your client’s thoughts and feelings during the session, as well as encourage active participation and involvement throughout your sessions. Examples of Marriage Counseling questions you could use include:

  1. What are some of your strengths as a couple?
  2. How about the individual strengths of your partner?
  3. Tell me about your hopes for the future.
  4. If you were to wake up tomorrow, without the current challenges that you were facing, what would be different in your relationship?
  5. What changes do you think you’ll notice when you are making progress in counseling?
  6. Do you feel as though you have the same thoughts about raising children and discipline?
  7. Using one word, how would you describe your partner?
  8. Can you tell me about what you can do together that helps you feel connected?
  9. How often are you able to do enjoyable activities together?
  10. Can you tell me something about your relationship that you are grateful for?
  11. Are there any notable differences within your values?
  12. How do you manage spirituality and religious differences?
  13. Can you tell me how you respond to differences in political opinions?
  14. How would you describe your communication?
  15. Where do you feel there is room for improvement in your relationship?
  16. Can you tell me about any areas of your relationship where you feel there may be misunderstandings or disconnection?
  17. Please walk me through a recent disagreement and how you worked through it?
  18. How would you say that you express your desires or wants to each other?
  19. Can you each tell me about how you express love?
  20. And what makes you feel loved?
  21. Can you tell me what behaviors help build trust within your marriage?
  22. Was there an event or a change that broke trust for one or both of you?
  23. How does it make you feel when you think about not being able to trust your partner?
  24. Can you tell me about how you each cope with challenging emotions like anger, sadness, and guilt?
  25. How would you describe intimacy within the context of your marriage?
  26. How often do you find yourselves connecting on an intimate level?
  27. What are your thoughts about sex?
  28. Are you happy with the amount of physical intimacy in your relationship?
  29. Can you think of a time when you felt satisfied sexually? What was different during that time?
  30. Can you think of any barriers that impact your desire or ability to have intimate relations?
  31. Can you tell me about any life changes that you have experienced together?
  32. How did you work together to navigate your new circumstances?
  33. Can you describe how you, as a couple, respond to life changes and losses? Do you find that you come together, or do you isolate?
  34. Can you please tell me about your use of drugs and alcohol?
  35. Have either of you felt as though your partner’s use was a concern?
  36. Do you still feel as though their alcohol or drug use is a problem?
  37. How do you feel substance use affects your relationship?
  38. Can you think of any ways that your current challenges are influenced by previous experiences you have had?
  39. Can you tell me about some shared values that you have?
  40. Can you tell me about your hope for the future with your partner?
  41. Have there been previous periods of difficulty within your marriage?
  42. Can you briefly describe what your marriage looked like at that time?
  43. What helped you get through those tough times?
  44. How would you describe your ability to communicate with each other?
  45. Do you find that you feel heard by your partner?
  46. Can you tell me about that experience for you?
  47. How do you feel your relationship would change if you were able to communicate in a clear, or healthy, manner?
  48. Do you trust your partner?
  49. What has contributed to that?
  50. Could you each share with me what you admire about your partner?
  51. Can you tell me about what led to your interest in marriage counseling?
  52. Have either of you been in therapy or counseling before?
  53. How would you describe your precious experiences with therapy or counseling?
  54. Can you tell me about your own mental health experiences?
  55. Has there been a time in your life when you struggled with your mental health? Can you tell me about it?
  56. How do you feel that your mental health affects your partner?
  57. How does your mental health affect your behaviors within the context of your relationship? As an example, are you able to express yourself freely, or do you have the same desire for intimacy
  58. In one word, how would you describe your relationship?
  59. How does that make you feel saying that?
  60. How do you feel about the state of your marriage?

Final Thoughts on Marriage Counseling Questions to Ask Clients

Thank you for dedicating time to review our marriage counseling questions! Marriage counseling is a dynamic branch of psychotherapy that significantly impacts the happiness and general welfare of married couples facing challenges. For couples who have undergone marriage counseling and decide to pursue divorce, couples counseling offers valuable support in adjusting to forthcoming changes, particularly if they’ll be co-parenting or sharing other responsibilities.

If you find yourself interested in learning more about Marriage Counseling, we encourage you to explore continuing education and other training opportunities within your respective niche.

TherapyPatron.com helps mental health professionals better serve their clients. Our (editable, fillable, printable PDF) therapy worksheets can help you streamline your practice, effectively deliver different types of therapy, and support your clients be the best version of themselves.

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Resources:

Kayla VanGuilder, MA, LCMHC
Author: Kayla VanGuilder, MA, LCMHC

Kayla is a Mental Health Counselor who earned her degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She has provided psychotherapy in a residential treatment program and an outpatient addiction treatment facility in New York as well as an inpatient addiction rehab in Ontario, Canada. She has experience working with individuals living with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and trauma.

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