How does Couples Counselling work?
The image that conjures up the therapy process for me is that of taking a brick off the lawn. There is a yellow patch for a while but the grass knows how to grow and is back to its green self within days. You know instinctively deep down what is right for you; we need to identify and try to lift away the obstacles. What are the obstacles?
Mostly it is our basic differences in values and beliefs that create a battleground between us, for instance, equality. Although equality sounds good, I find absolute equality is a myth. A common sense of fairness in both partners seems to be more useful to aim for. Some of the other areas for disagreement are money, relationships with family members, time for yourself, how to bring up the children, and so on.
The sexual relationship
Sexual problems fall in to different categories. Some are specific to one partner or the other, and some are to do with the particular relationship.
In many instances the sexual relationship follows the lines of the mood of the relationship “how can you expect me to make love when I’m angry with you?” is often expressed.
Some of the biggest obstacles are in the way we communicate with each other. We invalidate and put each other down. We withhold ourselves by withdrawing or avoiding certain subjects. We make negative interpretations (when your partner seems to hear very different things to what you were trying to say and vice versa).
In the therapy sessions we look behind the repetitive cycle, the seemingly trivial triggers, and the scorekeeping to find what the real concerns and hidden issues are.
If communication is a major issue learning to listen with respect and give good feedback are two skills that are not only helpful in your relationship but apply to other areas in your life as well. These are two skills we train new counsellors to use and are the basis of good communication.
What difference will it make?
Couples with whom I have worked tell me that after our sessions they find it easier to say difficult things to one another. When we listen without needing to defend our positions we can experience feedback as a gift not a criticism. This often inspires us to do things differently or it can lead us to find ways to change and grow.
Marriage Guidance is a term that lost favour when couples including same sex couples were living together and not marrying, and non-directive counselling became fashionable. I will respond to you in ways that will help you uncover the signposts and find directions for improving your relationships.
- Marital and Couple Counselling — Relate (formerly Marriage Guidance Counselling)
- Sexual and Relationship Therapy — College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy
- Fertility Counselling — London Hospital Medical College
- Senior Accredited Supervisor — British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
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