How can couple counselling help?
Couples wait an average of six years before deciding to give couple counselling a go. Couples counselling is sometimes viewed as a last resort when all attempts to save the relationship have failed, or when pretending everything is fine no longer works.
So they turn to couples counselling, help is on the way! Well, not so fast…
Couples therapy is not very likely to work if:
- only one of you is willing to engage in this process
- you cling to the belief that if only the other would change, everything will be fine
- you are not really willing to change
- you expect the therapist to act as an arbitrator.
Couples therapy can be beneficial to you if:
- you both believe your relationship is worth saving
- you both hold a common vision and have a similar agenda
- each one of you is prepared to make changes
- you accept the therapist’s role as a facilitator.
So, how does it work?
Relationship therapists have different approaches based on their trainings and styles; however, from the beginning they will establish ground rules that will enable you to feel safe in expressing your thoughts and feelings freely and openly. Trained couples counsellors focus on the relationship rather than on each partner separately. By doing this, they remain impartial and give equal attention, time and understanding to each one of you.
Often in relationships, communication comes to a halt when we feel blamed or criticised. When this happens, we naturally prepare our self-defence and in the process, we stop listening. Relationship therapy gives you the opportunity to develop your listening skills to understand your partner better, as well as the ability to express yourself more effectively in a non-threatening way. What a difference it would make if you felt truly understood by your partner!
Research indicates that early attachment patterns inform our unconscious choices of relationships as adults. For this reason, some therapists draw a joint family tree to help you better understand your early attachment styles and how they influence your choice of partner in adulthood. A frequently asked question is: "Did you marry your father or your mother?"
Finally, do keep in mind that the purpose of couples counselling is not to fix an ailing relationship at all cost, but to work towards the best outcome. Whatever the outcome, you are likely to learn a lot about your partner and your relationship, and about yourself too.
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