What happens in couple counselling?

In the initial meeting you each explain the problems from your own perspective and it is often a relief to start communicating about how you see things. If you decide that you want to proceed with further sessions then the starting point is to agree a focus for the work. This is particularly important if you have different agendas; maybe one of you wants the relationship and one is uncertain. I usually suggest that we plan to meet for six sessions and then review that decision after five weeks. Some couples find they need more sessions and of course this is offered when needed.

Working together in counselling allows unhelpful or destructive patterns of interaction to be identified and changed, which then allows greater sharing, listening and understanding to happen. The work may involve looking at the models of relationship that you grew up with, the unspoken expectations you may have and any external pressures affecting you. However each couple is different and the approach will vary depending upon the couple and the nature of the difficulties brought to counselling. The agenda is yours, but if violence or abuse is an issue in the relationship then this needs to be addressed first.
 

How to choose a couples counsellor

Couple counselling requires specific skills.  I am not only a fully qualified general counsellor (PG Dip.) but I have also had specialist training from Relate (Cert Relate) and have completed an ICEEFT externship. I bring to my work over a decade of experience of working with couples.

Whoever you choose, it is important that you choose a counsellor with a recognised qualification in working with couples. Perhaps the most important aspect is that you choose someone you both feel comfortable with. If possible, talk together about whom to approach. Ask for more information if you are uncertain and remember that the initial appointment can help you decide whether to work with a particular counsellor. 

 

What can couples counselling help with?

Typical issues that clients bring are difficulty communicating, affairs, sexual dissatisfaction, work-home balance, coping with children, difficulties with in-laws, arguments, or when one partner realises that their feelings have changed and is considering leaving the relationship.

I often meet couples who fear their problems are too severe to be resolved. Of course it is easier to address difficulties if they are looked at sooner rather than later, but even entrenched problems can be helped if you are both open to making changes. Sometimes couples come to counselling as a way of developing awareness of their relationship strengths and possible challenges ahead before making a commitment to marriage or having a child together.

When a relationship is struggling to resolve tension and distress then having a safe calm place to look at what is happening can help you move forward. In deciding to sort things out together in counselling you are taking the first step towards strengthening your relationship.  
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