How do we begin relationship therapy?

Prior to making an appointment I always suggest that we arrange a short telephone conversation about what you are looking for and whether I might be able to help. If you decide that you want to meet with me then the starting point is an initial session in which I ask some general questions about your relationship, each of you describes how you see things from your own perspective and we 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. Of course coming to an initial meeting does not commit you to continuing.

What do couples talk about in therapy?

Working together in counselling allows unhelpful or destructive patterns of interaction to be identified, understood and changed, which then allows greater sharing, listening and understanding to happen. The work is likely to involve expressing hidden feelings, understanding unmet needs, looking at the models of relationship that you grew up with 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 always needs to be addressed first as couple counselling may not be helpful for you at this time. When that is the case I will suggest more appropriate sources of support.

How many sessions will we need?

I often meet couples who fear that 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. By deciding to sort things out together in counselling you are taking the first step towards strengthening your relationship.

I usually suggest that I meet each of you individually for one session and we initially plan for six sessions. I primarily use an approach called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and most couples average about 6-20 sessions. This type of therapy aims to help couples create an emotionally secure, mutually supportive relationship and research shows it to be effective. Studies find that with this approach 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements. 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.

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

I am trained to use the Relate approach as well as Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT). EFT is of the few couple therapies that has been rigorously researched and shown to be highly effective: 70-73% of couples recovered from the distress that brought them to therapy and 90% made improvements. A list of the studies relating of EFT can be found here

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