Reluctant to go to relationship therapy?
Deciding to go to relationship therapy can seem like a huge step. Often one of the partners will be very reluctant to attend. Perhaps they fear talking about intimate secrets to a stranger, or they can’t see how going over the problems again and again will make a difference. Sometimes they are afraid that they may be judged as right and wrong as part of the process. While it is important to recognise that we can all be worried, even stressed about trying to repair our relationship, equally it is important for both partners to recognise that the problems will not heal on their own. Sometimes knowing a little about relationship counselling can help everyone to see the benefits.
It is very common to worry about being judged by the counsellor when entering relationship counselling or to imagine that your counsellor will side with your partner. This can be particularly prevalent with some problems like affairs. Yet the reality is that counsellors are there to be a neutral aid to help you find a way to a solution. They will encourage you to talk about your issues and problems. They will offer you a safe and non-judgemental space in which you can explore the possibilities for the future and that can be a rare thing when your life is in turmoil.
Counselling can be uncomfortable, hard work and even at times painful. Part of the process of relationship counselling is to talk about how you as a couple deal with difficult times and how you work together when your relationship feels stuck. Yet there are positives too, couples learn to discuss issues that they are hiding from each other, either from fear of hurt or conflict or both. Through being more vulnerable, more honest you become closer to your partner and have a more ‘real’ relationship with them. Part of the process is understanding that as a couple there will be conflict, but in learning how each both deal with conflict and through that understand how to communicate it is easier to resolve problems making for a better relationship. You will learn to address patterns of unhelpful behaviour in the ways you communicate and together look at ways you can change.
In relationship counselling, the counsellor helps you to ensure both of you get a chance to talk and helps to get you heard by the other partner. As the communication builds you will be able to tackle and explore deeper issues and work on the best ways for you and your partner to be able to tackle relationship issues on your own in the future.
Through the process you are helped to look for and build on the strengths in your relationship so that you can have a shared positive vision for the future. Counselling sessions are not one thing because each couple is unique, but counselling offers a safe space to discuss the problems of now, to look for patterns and address how you can tackle them as a couple and make changes.
In the end it can feel stressful taking your relationship to a counsellor, but on balance the help that a good counsellor will offer far outweighs the consequences of taking no action at all.