Couples Counselling – what is it about?
You may be having problems in your relationship, perhaps feeling stuck or going round in circles. Perhaps it feels difficult to communicate as well as you would like. You might wonder at this stage if couples counselling could be a worthwhile option; but what can you expect?
Having a safe and neutral space where you can sit down and talk and listen to each other may help. It may help you to find a way to give your feelings appropriate expression – a way that may at times be challenging, but not attacking; honest, yet at the same time respectful. One way of doing this is through couples counselling, giving you a space to explore difficulties in the way you communicate with each other.
Sometimes it is not just about the present situation; we can find ourselves repeating patterns from the past. We promised ourselves we would not make the same mistake again but here we are! Couples counselling can help identify these patterns in the way we relate to each other. It can also help us find a way to untangle them; make more sense of what is going on; and feel more able to make clearer plans for the future.
It may be that we may feel puzzled that the things we found attractive in each other at the start of the relationship are the very same things that cause us concern as the relationship progresses. Gaining a deeper understanding of both ourselves and each other can help make sense of this phenomenon. It can help us find new perspectives in our ways of relating.
Often couples can get stuck because they get caught up with arguing about whose fault it is that they have problems in their relationship, about who is to blame. Couples counselling is certainly not about confirming fault or finger pointing. Often counselling can help focus on the relationship itself rather than each individual. Then it may become easier to work together on this relationship. It becomes possible to act collaboratively rather than to be in conflict with each other.
Couples counselling can also help with problems in communicating about intimate matters. We may feel comfortable enough in other ways; but when it comes to sex, how do we talk to each other about what is bothering us? It can be hard to know how to begin. We may feel less pressurised and more able to safely explore issues in the counselling setting. This is a space to reflect and consider - going at a pace that feels both appropriate and comfortable enough for both partners; to consider and respect each other’s needs and wellbeing.
People may also find that they come into conflict with each other in the way they relate to their children. Finding ways to develop a common and collaborative approach to parenting can make a significant difference to the relationship between the parents and other members of the family.
While, for the majority of people, couples counselling will be about finding better ways of relating to each other as they continue in their relationship, for some it may be about finding the best way to part. This is also a legitimate aim in couples counselling, taking a mature and responsible approach to making an ending.
These are some of the ways that people use couples counselling. Finally, everyone’s experience of couples counselling will be - to some degree - different. It is about two individuals and how they relate to each other in their own particular ways. Counselling provides the safe space for them to explore and work collaboratively in this unique process.