Our intimate relationships have the capacity to be the source of our greatest support but also our greatest stress. Couples counselling, (or relationship counselling or marriage counselling) is a brief intervention designed to increase a couples communication skills and awareness with the aim of developing a loving and supportive relationship.
Counselling for relationships is a fairly new discipline when compared with individual therapy. Originally called Marriage Guidance the name has been updated to reflect that working in therapy can support couples of any gender, sexuality or marital status. Many couples therapists will have some extra training to be LGBTQ+ aware.
Why do people go to Relationship Counselling?
Couples come to counselling for a wide variety of reasons but often the common theme is an inability to communicate in a way that moves towards problem solving. Partners can be highly conflicting or conflict avoidant. Either way the big issues in the relationship go unresolved.
Some of the most common presentations in couples counselling include:
- Too Much Conflict Couples who constantly fight are probably the most common presentation in the therapy room. Both partners feel deeply in love yet somehow they continue to repeat a pattern of conflict and arguments. Working in counselling can help the couple find new ways of communicating that fosters understanding and intimacy.
- Lack of Intimacy have you heard this phrase before? “I love you but I’m not in love with you”. This phrase can often sum up this type of couple. There is a great deal of warmth and perhaps love but the spark and passion have gone. Working together with a couples counsellor can help both partners connect at a deeper level of mutual love and understanding.
- Affairs often couples will come to counselling to try and repair the pain and hurt caused by infidelity. This work can often be challenging and involves both partners exploring what wasn’t working in the relationship prior to the affair, as well as dealing with the pain and hurt that comes in the aftermath. Our counsellors have helped numerous couples find a way to heal and move forward.
- And a myriad of other things! Work-related stress, jealousy, the pressure of blended families and different parenting styles are just a few of the many other reasons that bring a couple into the therapy room. Working with a skilled therapist can help you develop the understanding and awareness needed to help you build the relationship you desire.
How does Couples Counselling Work?
Couples counselling is designed to help you see clearly what is currently happening in your relationship, to help you identify what you want to change, and to enable you to bridge the gap.
Couples counselling is normally a fairly short-term set of interventions lasting between 6-12 weeks. One of the key tasks in relationship counselling is helping both members of the relationship to build awareness of the dynamics that make up the relationship. Many of us pay little attention to the nature of our relationship – we expect it to happen without much effort. However, like most good things in life, relationships take commitment and effort to get right
A conscious partnership is a relationship created by two people who intentionally choose to be together and help each other grow in many ways, to be safe, to be healed and to be whole. The conscious partners in the relationship are committed to their individual growth and collective growth as a couple.
The key to developing a conscious relationship is good communication skills. Most couples who come to counselling will say they wish they could communicate better. Partners often feel unheard by their loved one in a way that feels particularly painful.
Couples counselling includes “skills work” which will often start with communication. A skilled relationship counsellor will have a number of tools to help you develop effective listening skills. These will often take the form of a structured dialogue where each partner will take it in turns to listen attentive to the other.
We may also look at the differing patterns of behaviour that each partner brings to the relationship. Each of us can work from an internal script that tells how to “be” in a relationship. These scripts may be made up from our experience of our own families and from the cultural messages we hear from films, TV and magazines. It is common when two people come together for these scripts to clash in a way that causes friction in the relationship. In couples counselling, you gain new perspectives about each other and the way you relate which allows you also learn new ways of being together. Couples therapists do not have a blueprint about what a relationship ‘should’ look like. Instead they work with each couple to find the unique solution that works for both individuals.
If you think couples counselling could benefit your relationship contact us today. We offer support for couples via both our low-cost and private counselling services. All our couples counsellors have taken specialist training to help facilitate you in developing the loving and supportive relationship you deserve. Call us today or complete our self referral form. We aim to have you seeing a counsellor within 4 weeks of your initial contact.