There are times in our most intimate relationships when it seems that something has been lost. Perhaps feeling a sense of loss of individuality within the couple relationship, maybe your sex life has lost its sparkle or disappeared altogether, or there has been a betrayal of trust, through furtive behaviour like addiction to internet pornography or the catastrophic impact of infidelity.
When, for whatever reason, rational thought becomes overwhelmed by emotion, trauma and pain, communication becomes strained, even avoided, and the same old arguments endlessly replayed, so it can be hard to see a way forward.
Relationship counselling offers the opportunity to explore and make sense of the often bewildering dynamics of these interactions and allows couples or individuals the possibility of moving towards the potential for understanding, insight, clarity and change.
Relationship problems that can be tackled include:
- Poor couple communication
- Coming to terms with an affair(s)
- Anger management
- Domestic violence
- Restoration of intimacy
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why would I want to see a private relationship counsellor?
First of all, it is important with any type of counselling that you and your counsellor have a good rapport. One of the advantages of private counselling is that you can shop around and find the right counsellor for you.
When people consider counselling they generally want to see someone as soon as possible; this is particularly true for couples in crisis. People can often face long waiting lists for counselling appointments with established organisations, often to find that they then have to pay a significant amount anyway. I have a policy of making appointments within a few days and my charge rate is flexible, to a degree, according to income.
Who is relationship counselling for?
Relationship counselling is available for all intimate relationships whether you are married or unmarried, heterosexual or gay, and regardless of your age or race.
Can I still come to relationship counselling if my partner doesn't want to?
Many relationship issues are best resolved if both you and your partner attend. However, your partner may not want to come for counselling. If you are in this situation, individual counselling offers a way forward. You could work on issues such as working out what you want in a relationship, exploring your options, and support if your relationship has broken down.
This of course, varies from relationship to relationship, but many difficulties can be improved after a few sessions. Some couples want to work specifically on an issue while others want to explore their relationship in depth. I frequently review progress with you and work with you to achieve your goal. You decide how long you want counselling for.
How long does relationship counselling take?
The interactions between couples, irrespective of sexual orientation, are invariably anything but simple. Relationship therapists, therefore, use an eclectic mix of Psychodynamic principles incorporating Object Relations Attachment and Systemic Theory.
What counselling style is used in relationship therapy?
The therapeutic relationship with clients is built up using Person Centred approaches but, strictly speaking, the 'client' is not one individual in the counselling room or the other - it is the sum total of what both individuals create - ie: the coupledom itself - that is the real client.
Accordingly, the therapist is looking impartially at the dual interactions that the couple present, both consciously and sub-consciously, in order to gain an understanding of where unspoken feelings and fears that can lead to tension, resentment, hidden anger etc, may be rooted.
Such an understanding can help to gently bring about changes to the couple's ways of ineracting and coping. A subtle evaluation process runs in tandem with the work as the couple decide for themselves what behavioural changes they feel they can introduce in order to help reinforce their decision to stay together and get more benefits, satisfaction and enjoyment from the relationship, or conversely, what needs to be in place in order to break up with the minimum degree of acrimony, and move on.
With this in mind a responsible relationship counsellor is always careful to issue a 'health warning' to couples who may be considering whether to go into counselling.
For whatever the eventual outcome, it has to be acknowledged that the counselling process is a dynamic one and, although it undoubtedly can assist in enhancing relationships there is always the possibility that one partner may see the exit sign as preferable to working hard at building, or rebuilding, a relationship that has been under severe strain, often for a long time.
It is for this reason that it is imperative to consider at as early a stage as possible in a deteriorating relationship whether professional counselling can help.
Unfortunately many couples leave it so late that things have often reached crisis point, with destructive behavioural patterns deeply entrenched, before seeking help.
People often assume that if there is a problem then the obvious thing to do is talk about it together. However, this doesn't always work. There can be many reasons why, including getting stuck in past history, habitual responses or finding it difficult to forgive. Different sets of values can get in the way and a constantly recurring argument, even in different guises, can totally de-energise couples without ever gaining resolution.
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