What does couples counselling involve?
It is always a difficult decision to seek help with your relationship and often one partner is more keen than the other to try it. However it is normally the case that you have been unable to resolve the issues yourselves and are stuck in a pattern of repeated behavior, ineffective communication and arguments that seem to go over the same ground constantly in a vicious circle. When this stage is reached usually neither person is listening to the other any more and point scoring is the objective. Or alternatively there is very little communication and both parties are living seperate lives together.
The bottom line is that the relationship is not working as it is and something needs to change on both sides. When this point is reached there may only be a short time to try and improve the relationship, otherwise break-up could be the the next step.
So what happens in a couples counselling session?
1. It is an opportunity for each person to say what they truly want or are troubled by, without driving the other person out of the room or into a state of defensiveness.
2. Each person has a right to be heard and understood
3. It is not a place to have a fight while paying for a therapist. You can do this at home for free!
4. Things can improve if both of you are committed to the process, are open and honest about what you want and are willing to actively listen to each other.
5. The therapist’s job is to respond to what you are looking for and help to reframe your issues so that you can both relate and really listen to each other.
6. Normally each person has things they want the other person to be aware of.
7. Becoming aware of what the true emotions are that underly those being displayed e.g. anger, accusation, frustration, attempts to control, argumentative, assertive, suspicious, jealous. The true emotions may be hurt, fear, sadness, disappointment, betrayal, helplessness, grief etc…. Recognising those underlying emotions can make understanding of the person more positive.
8. Each person needs to feel heard and validated.
9. Therapy aims to offer you both the opportunity for a new perspective about your issues and also your strengths.
10. Awareness that if things become difficult or unpleasant, this will not affect the therapist.
11. The Therapist is not there to keep you together but to help you both come to the best conclusion for yourselves. You may still decide that splitting up is the best option, but counselling should make that process easier and more amicable.