Couple counselling - can it really help?
Life is in perpetual motion. People change and grow. Your partner may seem different now from the person you fell in love with. All relationships encounter problems from time to time and sometimes we can be stuck in a difficult place.
Couple counselling holds the potential for positive growth and change. It can help you understand each other and to communicate better with your partner. Seeking counselling does not mean your relationship has failed, but that you would like it to improve. Problems are normal and can be handled, given the right support. It is often the fear of the relationship breaking down that makes things feel worse.
One or both partners may feel awkward at first. Maybe one doesn’t want to be here - either because of the anxiety of talking to a stranger about feelings, or from a sense of failure or worry. This is normal and a good counsellor will know how to work with this and reassure you.
When one partner has tried to talk to the other about the issue and come up against a ‘wall’, talking starts to feel dangerous and becomes avoided. Physical intimacy can then start to suffer and, with it, the couple miss out on an important bond. Couple counselling offers a neutral place, away from home, where issues can be explored - sometimes for the first time. The couples I have seen have found that counselling has helped them understand their issues better and to see a way forward. For the first time in ages they find they can talk to each other without arguing.
Sometimes I see couples who have got into a harmful communicating style which they cannot easily shake free of. I can help explore how habitual patterns affect your relationship and how just small changes can make a difference.
As a couple you should be prepared to give a couple of hours of your time to attending your counselling session. Although the session will rarely last longer than 60-80 minutes, there is the travel time to consider too. It helps if you can schedule this into your diary and protect it. Giving this priority will make a huge difference.
The aim of couple counselling is to help your relationship break free of being stuck and move more freely. If you or your partner have reached a sticking point in your relationship it can help to clear the way.
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About Caroline Brown
Caroline Brown is a person-centred counsellor based near Lincoln. She has a special interest in clients with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.