WHEN SHOULD PEOPLE SEEK RELATIONSHIP COUNSELLING?
People often seek relationship counselling for one of two reasons, either they want to:
address complex relationship difficulties or
enhance a relationship that feels like it has gone stale
All relationships will experience difficulties from time to time; it is part of sharing your life with another person. How you handle your difficulties will determine if you create a relationship that works or one that doesn't. Sometimes the issues feel so complex, or the feelings are so painful or confusing, that you are unable to work through them without support. During these times, relationship counselling can be of great value. It is important to realise that between two people there will be differences in ideas and expectations, there can also be conflict and strong expression of feelings. Being able to handle conflict and deal with differences is important in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Relationship counselling can play an active role in this process.
At times you might find that, even though there are no explicit difficulties in your relationship, it is no longer providing you with the feelings of intimacy and togetherness you had when it began. Creating positive, fulfilling relationships requires a conscious acknowledgement of the importance of the relationship and a commitment to making its nurturance and enhancement a priority in your lives. Relationship counselling can guide this process and assist by providing, skills, strategies and communication techniques that enhance understanding and togetherness.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I WANT TO COME BUT MY PARTNER IS NOT READY TO COME TO RELATIONSHIP COUNSELLING?
Sometimes it can be helpful to come on your own first. This shows that you value the relationship and are willing to willing to work on it. Therapy addressing a couple's issue is always better when both partners are able to contribute to the session, however, many people find that while they are waiting for their partner to be ready, their relationship is further deteriorating.
Attending on your own and bringing new skills and approaches to your interactions with your partner can contribute to a shift in dynamics. If your partner does want to attend relationship counselling with you in the future, it is usually advised that they have one or two sessions with the psychologist on their own at first. This allows them to feel heard and understood before the couple's sessions begin. Otherwise you can be referred, as a couple, to a new psychologist.
I AM WORRIED THAT MY PARTNER WILL DOMINATE THE SESSION?
In couples therapy is very important that each partner have the same amount of time to share their concerns. Throughout the sessions, attention, reflections and exploration of thoughts and feelings is given to both partners. At times, relationship counselling can become directive. This allows the therapist to create space for one partner if the other one is more dominant. As both of you are equally a part of the relationship whole, both of your points of view are equally important and equally valid.
I'M COMING BECAUSE MY PARTNER WANTS ME TO BUT I'M WORRIED ABOUT MY PARTNER AND THE PSYCHOLOGIST GANGING UP ON ME?
Shaming and blaming hinder the therapeutic process. In couples counselling, the relationship, rather than either individual, is the client. The therapist's role is to support the relationship into developing insight into what is working and what is not. Together the therapist and the couple explore many aspects of the relationship from a perspective of curiosity and the facilitation of understanding and change.