Successful couple’s counselling – what is needed

Young couple seated back to backBy the time a relationship reaches the point where, despite all efforts of their own to make things work, a couple come to the decision to speak with a relationship counsellor it is no surprise that each have a catalogue of hurts and offenses that they would like heard.

In any counselling process making space for these issues to be heard is an important aspect of moving forward. It is rarely recognised that what people want more than anything else – more than money, fame, infamy or power – is to be understood.  In counselling (or any other human endeavour) to feel understood is the single more important aspect of being able to move forward. With this in mind then, it is no wonder that therapists put so much effort into spending time allowing their clients to explain their own experiences and perceptions of life in such great detail. Within the counselling environment however, it is important to recognise that being understood is not the same as being agreed with. To understand where another person is coming from, does not mean that you agree or accept their position is accurate.

In couple’s therapy things are a little more complicated in that you often have two very opposing views on the same situations or events. Because of this, a therapist spending time with one member of a couple might be experienced by the other as the therapist taking their side. In the end however, a good therapist will allow each member of the couple to have their say in turn. Each will feel understood by the therapist as they explain things as they see and experience them though neither should necessarily feel that the therapist wholeheartedly agrees with them.

At some point in the counselling process though, there comes a time where something significant is asked of each of the two members of the relationship. Each will be asked to look inwardly, towards their own perceptions and ask if something within themselves needs to change. It is easy to point a perpetual finger at the other and say, “If only you were different, we’d both be happy!”. That attitude is unrealistic and those who hold steadfastly on to it in couple’s therapy are unlikely to have a successful therapeutic encounter. The reality is that unless we are talking about a relationship marked by severe psychological physical abuse, that whatever is going on between a couple has some shared responsibility. More often than not this share responsibility is very near 50:50% despite any perceptions at the start of counselling that the other is to blame.

A good therapist will take a couple through a process that will allow them the space to express how they see things at the beginning, encourage a gentle examination of themselves in turn, and facilitate the personal changes required by each in order to have a happier, healthier relationship going forward.

If you would like more information regarding couple’s counselling and how it may be helpful for you, please feel free to telephone on 07799 647 307 for a no obligation conversation prior to booking an appointment.