Very few relationships exist conflict free - whether it’s the odd disagreement or ‘bicker’, repeatedly arguing or you’ve lost the fun element in your relationship - it’s natural to start to question its longevity. When this (one of our most important relationships) begins to falter, our health and happiness can also suffer. For many of us, our first instinct is to try and work through the problems alone, but it can be incredibly helpful to seek outside support, whether that be through friends and family, or even a professional.
Relationship counselling (also known as couples counselling) is an effective form of talking therapy.
Typical of sessions, much of the work you do will take place within the counselling room itself. However, it’s common that the counsellor will ask you to complete ‘homework’ in between sessions. This may be in the form of specific tasks or to discuss a topic together at home.
You will get the chance to talk about these tasks in your next session, discussing any challenges you came up against and how the experience made you both feel.
Whilst couples therapy is ideally suited to couples attending the sessions together, sometimes one partner is reluctant to attend, so you can look to speak to a couples counsellor on your own, to begin with. You might find your partner wants to join you after you’ve had some initial sessions alone and it can be helpful to intersperse couple sessions with individual sessions.
The role of a couples counsellor is to facilitate change and bring about a resolution by helping you both communicate more effectively and reach your own conclusions under professional guidance. It’s important to remember that when you go for couples therapy, you won’t simply be told what to do. A couples counsellor will not give you the answers to or whether or not you should separate.
If you’re nervous about discussing private matters with a stranger, that’s completely natural and expected. Try to keep in mind that your counsellor is not there to criticise you; therapy should be a space free of judgement where you can explore your feelings and emotions openly.
In order to bring about change, something different needs to happen between the couple [… ] even where problems seem intractable, relationship therapy can help individuals identifying new ways of being together as well. Couple counselling can help partners rediscover that closeness and intimacy which originally brought the couple together.
When we’ve been in a relationship or marriage for a long time, it can be easy to fall into a trap of not listening to the other person, or not communicating our needs clearly. Sometimes talking to someone objectively, with no connection to yourself or your partner, is all it takes for you to gain perspective. What couples counselling offers is the chance to speak to someone with no preconceived notions of who you are as a couple, with the expertise of skilled training behind them to guide you through your concerns.
The overall aim of couples counselling is to help you do the following:
As your counselling sessions progress, you and your partner may find a way of overcoming your problems or decide it’s time to part ways. Either way, counselling will offer you the space to grow and ultimately, decide what you would like the future to hold for both of you.