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Relationship Counselling

What does Couples Counselling involve

Marriage counselling, also called couples therapy, comes under the umbrella of psychotherapy. 

Marriage counselling helps couples of all types recognise and resolve the conflict stage by stage, and this improves the couple’s feelings towards one another. 

Through marriage counselling, you may even make a choice between rebuilding and strengthening your relationship or going your separate ways.

For Marriage counselling/couples therapy, it is recommended to have both partners attend. However only one partner may choose to work with the therapist. 

The specific plan put into place by the therapist will depend on the situation.

This planned structure of therapy can help couples in all types of intimate relationships — regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

Some seek marriage counselling to strengthen their partnership and gain a better understanding of the needs of one another. 

Couples counselling can also help those who plan on marriage. Premarital counselling will allow couples to achieve a deeper understanding of each other and iron out differences before marriage.

Think of it this – seeking out the skills of a marriage/couple’s therapist can mitigate many health issues!  Having a healthy relationship through learning to communicate effectively and gaining insights about each other and greater understanding is so important to our wellbeing, on the path moving forward.

Marriage Counselling Specific Issues

You can use couples counselling to help with many specific issues, including:

· Communication problems

· Intimacy

· Sexual difficulties

· Conflicts about child rearing or blended families

· Substance abuse

· Anger

· Infidelity

The only preparation needed for marriage counselling is to find a therapist. 

What you can expect

Working with a therapist alone or together, you learn skills to solidify your relationship, such as:

· Open communication

· Learning to set healthy boundaries

· Problem-solving

· How to discuss differences rationally 

You will talk about the good and bad parts of your relationship as you pinpoint and better understand the sources of your conflicts. Together you will learn how to identify problems without assigning blame, while changing unhelpful patterns in your relationship, guiding you to experience a healthier, more acceptable and harmonious way of relating together.

Relationship Counselling Considerations

Here is what to keep in mind when considering relationship counselling:

·    It may be very difficult to discuss your problems even with mental health professionals.  Therapy sessions might lapse in silence as you and your partner remain angry over perceived wrongs — or the session may turn into a yelling match. 

This is all acceptable, and part of the experiences that can begin in counselling. Your couple’s therapist can act as a referee/mediator and help you cope with the resulting emotions in a neutral and safe environment.

You may have homework to complete. In my counselling, I may suggest communication exercises at home to practice what you’ve learned. For example, allow time to talk face-to-face with your partner to maintain the open communication, create the intimacy that I aim to facilitate in our face to face sessions. I utilise a communication tool/intervention that enables each of the couple to be heard and understood. I do not expect that you will agree with each other’s perspective – however, the first important step in communication is to have the other person demonstrate that they have carefully listened and have understood what has been communicated by their partner.

·    You can attend the session by yourself. If your partner refuses to attend the session, come along anyway. It can be more of a challenge to mend a relationship this way, but you can benefit your partner and yourself by learning more about your reactions and behaviour.

·    Therapy Time Frame:  Most people need several sessions of marriage/couple’s therapy, however this can vary depending on the complexity of the issues. The specific plan will depend on the situation. Sometimes, marriage counselling allows both parties to see differences truly are irreconcilable and that it would be best for the relationships to end. We can then focus on skills for ending the relationship on good terms – honouring what the relationship has meant to each person.

·    You may have homework to complete. In my counselling I may suggest communication exercises at home to practice what you’ve learned. For example, allow time to talk face-to-face with your partner to maintain the open communication, create the intimacy that I aim to facilitate in our face to face sessions. I utilise a communication tool/intervention that enables each of the couple to be heard and understood. I do not expect that you will agree with each other’s perspective – however, the first important step in communication is to have the other person demonstrate that they have carefully listened and have understood what has been communicated by their partner.

·    Couples counselling allocates time to work through struggles away from everyday interruptions, such as television, phones, computers or children.

·    One or both of you may need additional mental health care. If one of you is coping with struggles that go beyond your relationship issues, I may need to arrange a one of one with one partner.

I will equal the individual time with the other partner in order to maintain professional neutrality. From time to time I find meeting individually, in between our couples’ session – allows additional clarity and understanding that is used very carefully to assist in productively helping your relationship.

Making the decision to employ counselling can be tough. You may feel very vulnerable.

If you have a troubled relationship, having the courage to seek help is more productive than the short term gain of ignoring your problems, or to simply hope issues disappear over time.

Sometimes couples seek a quick admit the relationship needs help is the hardest part to swallow. After taking the leap, most find the experience to be insightful and empowering.

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