About Relationship Counselling
Couple relationships predictably enter a phases of conflict or stress. In fact, relationship experts predict a conflict phase in most romantic long term relationships. Frequently the issues are sorted out and the relationship progresses or returns to its previous state. Often however, when the issues can not be resolved, you may find that your relationship escalates into anger and resentment, avoidance of the core issues, sadness, emptiness or a lack of hope for the future.
Couple counselling promotes open communication between the partners. Each partner is given the chance to clearly state their view and the couple learns new skills for communication and intimacy. If both parties become willing participants, conflict can often be resolved, trust can be restored and past resentments can be overcome.
Relationship Counselling Helps You Stop Fighting & Gets You Really Relating
Relationship counselling is an opportunity for a fighting or dissatisfied couple to share their concerns in a safe and secure environment. While this sounds simple, it can be a powerful and life changing experience for a dissatisfied couple to learn to hear and attend to each other’s concerns without defensiveness or conflict.
An experienced couple’s counsellor acts as a relationship mediator and teacher. He or she will help you talk openly and honestly about your issues, she will make sure both sides of the story are ‘heard’. She will train you to become better communicators and active listeners. She will help you identify the underlying frustrations behind your arguments, and help you to reconnect and rekindle lost intimacy.
Initially, your relationship counsellor will likely ask you each to share your view of the problem you are having. Your counsellor may also enquire about relevant aspects of your history as a couple, and any relevant individual history (for example, previous relationships, mental or physical health issues, past traumas). She will listen to each side of the story, helping each person to understand the other’s point of view, and helping to elucidate and clarify any misunderstandings in the way you communicate as a couple. This is often an essential insight because the vast majority of dissatisfied couples find that it is misunderstood communication that is at the heart of their problems. For example, he says “I’m just going to clean up the kitchen” and she hears it as “You’re doing a bad job keeping the kitchen clean”. The therapist may clarify what the message being sent was intended to convey. This may for example be “I am going to clean the kitchen, I would love to spend some time with you. Can you come be with me while I do it.”
By clarifying the underlying needs represented by each partners every day communications, the therapist is able to show the couple a new more compassionate way of looking at the issues which includes each partners desires and vulnerabilities, as well as practical strategies for improving the situation at home.
Why not to put off Relationship Counselling
Couples seek out relationship counselling for a variety of reasons and at different times or phases during their relationship. Many couples wait too long before seeking help. They avoid the problem, or fail to recognise it until they are really unhappy, or they are too embarrassed to admit that their relationship just isn’t working. This is a shame, most relationship problems are caused by small communication issues which eventually escalate and fester over time. Bad communication can lead to ongoing misunderstandings and arguments. The couple may start to limit communication leading to further feelings of disconnectedness and a lack of intimacy. Sexual difficulties are a natural result of such dynamics.
The issues we work with as Relationship Counsellors
Issues frequently presented by couples who attend counselling are:
- Arguments that recur often with neither party being clear about the underlying issue
- Arguments about a repeated disappointment with the other person such as their lack of attention, cleanliness, care, intelligence or commitment.
- Trust issues following infidelity or because of unresolved issues of jealousy
- Sexual issues, such as discrepancy between the partners sexual desire, a lack of sexual intimacy, or frustration with the lack of one partners willingness to initiate sex
- The impact of significant life changes, such as the birth of a baby, illness or a big move
- Conflict with other family members, including children, step-families and in-laws
- Cultural or religious difference or conflict
- Personal issues impacting the relationship, such as depression or addiction
- Financial worry
What is Family Therapy?
Most issues which affect a couple affect their children as well. Family therapy is an opportunity for the entire family to seek assistance from a counsellor. The therapy works in a similar way to couples therapy, providing the opportunity to air grievances and concerns, develop communication skills and improve relationships.
Commonly, family therapy involves teenage and adult children only. Family therapy acknowledges that the children of a relationship are commonly impacted emotionally by the issues experienced by their parents, and the family meetings facilitate a solution which works for all members concerned. At other times, family therapy can be useful for solving issues between adult family members, such as disagreements over business decisions, deceased estates or care of elderly parents.