Counsellors can help with relationships
Couples counsellors will tell you that couples come to see them for many reasons. Some of the most common examples are money worries, infidelity, children or a shift in their relationship. While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, it shows that a wide range of issues can cause a relationship to have problems. Often there is an incident or series of incidents that are the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It can be stressful times like Christmas that add the pressure that pushes the relationship over the edge. If we were to ask those same counsellors if they could identify the root cause of relationship problems the majority would talk about poor communication and the effect that can have on the relationship. When the partners stop talking, misunderstanding creeps in and very soon they have entrenched positions and are making all sorts of assumptions, usually formed through mind reading. Silence may be golden but it is never a good substitute for talking through your problems.
Probably the most important step is for the partners to be able to talk to each other about the problem. Often because of the history partners focus on winning the fight rather than sorting the problem. Usually when they get together they can be very creative in coming up with solutions that might take the relationship forward. But if the pattern of conflict has been one of fighting, sulking and retribution it can be difficult to be vulnerable enough to suggest creative ways forward. The first step is to help everyone to relate to each other with respect.
A counsellor will try to promote an understanding of both positions. Just getting the story out without judging anyone helps everyone see the problem to be solved. There is no doubt that this can be difficult and even embarrassing at times bit if offers an global view of the problems. You will be encouraged to talk about your feelings and thoughts and to really hear your partner’s thoughts and feelings almost so you can express them as well as your own. What would it be like to sit in their chair?
Every relationship has a history and often reviewing that history can help partners to reconnect with the things that brought about the relationship. What were their strengths and the strange habits that attracted them to each other? Perhaps there are lessons to be had if they overcame problems in the past. This reconnection process helps to establish how communication worked in the past and how that might be a model for the future.
Conflict is part of any relationship, but how it is related to each partner in part will determine the outcome. Counsellors often are called to help with conflict and through therapy help couples to be able to confront things in their relationship.
As couples work with a counsellor, there will be a process of working through the immediate issue and in deciding: if and how it can be solved. More than that a counsellor will be keen to help avoid future problems by working on the relationship and through understanding of that process prevent problems for the future. Good communication is at the very heart of strong relationship.
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