Why Choose Couples Counselling?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Greg Savva, Masters Degree, UKCP, Counselling in Twickenham & Whitton
28th September, 20130 Comments
Whether you're in a civil partnership, a marriage, or a cohabiting couple; relationship counselling can provide a safe space for two people to explore conflict or procrastination in their relationship. It can help enable couples to heal the wounds in a relationship, overcome anger and learn to mediate or compromise while recovering from relationship breakdowns. Even in loving and caring relationships, couples can find themselves becoming stuck, feeling smothered, or overwhelmed by the impact of external events. Sometimes unspoken grievances or underlying conflicts can lead to a severe breakdown in communication. Relationships between couples can become stale and people find it hard to talk things through or come to a mutually satisfying resolution.
This is when couples may decide to seek help from a skilled relationship counsellor whose professional training and skill for mediation can make all the difference. Whether couples are encountering serious difficulties, like conflict and violence, or feel that their needs for love and intimacy are unmet; they may benefit from extra support as they move towards change and growth in their relationships.
Couples' counselling often addresses how a couple can regain a sense of common ground. It helps to create empathy and a trusting bond, before voicing resentment, anger or disappointment with each other. Communication problems often arise and become increasingly difficult as each person takes a defensive position and argues over who is right or wrong; scoring points and keeping long lists of grievances to punish each other. Growing suspicion, jealousy and throwing accusations becomes a regular and ingrained habit. As the conflict progresses each person becomes more and more unwilling to forget and forgive. Couples begin to employ strategies to protect themselves: such as avoiding talking, withholding emotions, laying on emotional guilt trips, running out on each other or engaging in violence as their behaviours become entrenched. This may lead to unexpressed feelings, insensitivity and a loss of intimacy. Where once a person was idealised as a partner, they may suddenly find themselves being devalued, demonised or abused. This means both people become alienated and isolated from the very people they loved and cared for.
Our very closest relationships often rely on an ability to express intimacy and trust. When relationships stop working as a result of internal tensions or external pressures, our personal health is affected and our chance of happiness begins to suffer. Our sense of identity and self-worth often depends on the strength of our relationships and if we fall into patterns of hopelessness and despair, relationships fail. Often the pressures of work, family, money and health all take their toll. There should be room for a reasonable degree of agreement and conflict in order to work out tensions and come to a new resolution. However, if this is not negotiated safely it can have a deep emotional impact on the way couples support each other, express feelings or communicate. Suddenly the relationship that was loving and intimate, a relationship that replenished us, leaves us feeling drained and disappointed. Or terrified that we may be abandoned, betrayed or rejected.
Couples counselling aims at creating an underlying working alliance between people: helping them engage in active listening and constructive patterns of communication, rather than taking up rigid and inflexible positions to oppose each other. It helps people to realise that mutually inclusive behaviours and support, does not have to be about accepting a loss of personal freedom or making painful compromises. Conflict is an appropriate and necessary means of establishing personal boundaries and letting partners know that your needs are not being met.
In counselling couples can explore how to develop insight, compassion and empathy for their partner in order to come to a better understanding of how they feel and think. Couples can learn how to recover a sense of empathy and look at how intimacy is revitalised. Often couples develop a deeper understanding of themselves and each other; as well as how patterns of relating were learned and reinforced in childhood, only to re-emerge in adult relationships. Couples often find themselves repeating familiar patterns of relating that were present in their original families or repeating parent’s mistakes. For example, a person who was criticised and persecuted by a parent as a child, might find they become the family 'scapegoat' and start to feel blamed for everything by the partner who once adored them. Counselling helps couples become aware of these scripted patterns and to break out of the cycle of conditioning which makes them feel trapped or stuck. It can also help people find a way forward through mediating separation or divorce, so that a relationship breakdown does not have to end in messy disagreements or open conflict, especially where children are concerned.
How can couples counselling help?
- Learning to listen openly and without judging.
- Identifying destructive patterns of relating.
- Learning easier ways of conflict management and how to argue safely.
- Improving communication skills and the ability to express intense feelings.
- Learning to develop empathy and intimacy.
- Exploring the impact of change, loss and outside pressures.
- Acknowledging destructive patterns of abuse and violence.
- Recovering sensuality and sexual feelings.
- Learning how to regulate individual emotions.
- Gaining insight and learning from past relationships.
- Managing separation and divorce.
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