Considering couples counselling?
A good couples counsellor would work with the relationship and the couple within it. When do we begin to learn about relationships?
Although not consciously studying it, we begin learning about relationships through observing our parents interactions as a couple. Unknowingly accruing beliefs, feelings and assumptions through our observations and experiences of them, which starts to form our ideas of what makes a relationship. Absorbing these into our psyche as often an unquestioned norm or reality.
Therefore, one of the questions commonly asked in Couples work is “What sort of relationship did your parents have?” This is essential for both parties as it enables them to see what learned behaviour they have brought to “this” relationship and to share the understanding that they gain from each other’s exploration of the way they have been parented.
One of the common replies to this question is “I thought their relationship was normal at the time but now I am not so sure”. During early childhood, when your network is just the close family, then everything they do seems normal. So this family pattern becomes firmly embedded. When you venture further from home, you can see, intellectually, how your parents compare with others. Thus “I wish you were like Dave’s mum. She’s fantastic.”
Emotionally, however, that pattern is still there and can reappear unannounced. “You sound just like your mother.” These personal scripts and learnt patterns of behavior and how they are present in a couple’s relationship, in the here and now, are important elements within the framework of working with couples.
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