Most relationships will come under stress at some time, whether this is as a result of a painful event, such as an affair coming to light, or where couples come to realise that after many years together, they have simply grown apart. It may be that couples seek help due to changes in financial situations, physical or mental health problems, grief or loss, extended families, careers, poor communication or understanding of each other, the influence of family members, domestic abuse and aging. If left unattended the relationship can deteriorate and rifts deepen.
Couple counselling is the process of therapeutically helping partners in a relationship to recognise and better manage or reconcile troublesome differences, conflict or repeating patterns of distress. In couple counselling we recognise and acknowledge that each person has a unique personality, perception, set of values and history that might be different and at odds from their partner’s. Individuals in the relationship may adhere to different value systems such as social, religious, group and other collective factors which shape a person's nature and behaviour. These are all considered in the process of counselling and therapy.
What does it involve?
At your first meeting, your counsellor will outline what will happen during the couples counselling sessions, talk with you about your expectations and will ask you for a general history of your relationship and about the issues that you are bringing to counselling.
Couples Counselling involves confidential conversations between the counsellor and both partners within the relationship. The counsellor remains non-judgmental and neutral to both of you. The sessions provide a place and space for difficult and conflicted thoughts and emotions to be spoken of and heard. They enable you both to share your thoughts and feelings and to say what’s ‘really on your mind’.
During the discussions, the counsellor will consider and evaluate your personal and relationship story as it is told, will interrupt wisely, facilitating both a de-escalation of unhelpful conflict and the development of realistic, practical solutions where appropriate. The counsellor will help you both to reflect upon your relationship’s difficulties and identify the potential and direction for change.
What are the Benefits?
Couples Counselling enables you to talk about your issues within a safe and comfortable environment, providing you with the opportunity to:
- Identify ways to move forward in your relationship and improve your communication levels
- Learn how to negotiate and compromise with one another
- Discover how to work through unresolved issues
- Understand how to resolve conflict and problem solve in a productive manner
- Develop appropriate expression, disclosure and resolution of painful emotions
- Gain confidence as a couple in stating your needs clearly and openly within your relationship
The objective of couples counselling is to help you rebuild your relationship and stay together. However, it may be that as a couple you decide to separate, in which case, couples counselling can also help you to do this more amicably. In most cases, there is a way forward with couples counselling, but it requires an effort from both parties and an acceptance that it can often be a long and difficult process.