Ways counselling can help your relationship
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
14th May, 20140 Comments
It perhaps seems depressing to think that in a survey, over 75% of couples had considered counselling for their relationship. Is this really the state of our relationships today? Has modern life become so much of a pressure that it is disrupting our relationships?
Another and perhaps optimistic way of looking at it is that we are less willing to give up on relationships. In the past we might have walked away or suffer in silence waiting for children to grow up and leave. Yet, now the evidence would suggest that couples are more willing to tackle problems and talk to a counsellor and each other about how to improve their relationship for the better. The big question has to be so does relationship counselling work?
Couples are coming to therapy for a wide variety of reasons; usually it is the symptoms that they will have noticed first such as money worries, more angry fights, infidelity or a shift in their relationship. These can point to deeper underlying problems that may have been there for a very long time and will need to be addressed.
When the two partners don’t communicate well about how they are feeling or do not feel heard by their partner, it can lead to resentment that eats away at a relationship. Silence is never a good alternative to talking it through. While a counsellor is not a referee or a judge they have the skills and the training to start the process of helping you to see each other’s point of view - not to accept it as right or wrong but just in understanding you might talk or do things differently.
There was once a father and his little son playing on his scooter who kept going round the corner. “Don’t go round the corner son” said his dad. Still the son went round the corner. “Now son, I can’t see you when you go round the corner so don’t go round the corner”. The little boy then goes round the corner. His dad then says “You keep going round the corner – you are going to have to come and play inside you naughty boy” – “What’s a corner dad?” says the little boy.
Perhaps this illustrates how important it is that you don’t assume that the other person knows what you mean however obvious it might be to you. Taking the time to listen and make sure that you understand their point of view is as important as making your own known.
This is a simple concept that can be difficult to learn given that you and your partner will have past history and behaviours to get past, and again your counsellor can help you learn to listen to each other again. The prize, the real goal is to be able to communicate well so that you can discuss and resolve your difficulties.
Undoubtedly there will be problems when you arrive in counselling, and you will want to find a way through these. A good counsellor can help you with a framework to work through problems and come up with solutions that work for you both. Part of that will be about rules and boundaries, for example perhaps there is a statute of limitations on past errors, or in other words after you have dealt with your mistakes as a couple you move on, whatever that might mean for both of you. You do not constantly revisit the issue. In part this helps and invites you to be as open and honest as possible when dealing with the issue the first time.
So can counselling help with your relationship? Yes, counselling will make a difference and as with so many things in life the earlier you treat a problem the easier the solution is likely to be.
Related articles from our experts
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- Who do you think you are? 'Connecting the dots' through therapeutic genograms
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