Is couples counselling designed to keep people together? – Top 6 things about couple counselling people want to know most: Part 3 of 6:

This is part three of a series addressing the top 6 things people want to know about couples counselling. Quite simply, these are the questions I’m asked most often by those who consider coming for relationship counselling. While it is difficult to properly answer such questions in a short series of blogs like this, I’m doing my best. For a list of all six questions, please see part one of this series. This blog addresses the 3rd most often asked question: Is couples counselling designed to keep people together?

Answer: The short answer to this question is “No, it is not”. As always however, there is a bit more to it than that. In order to understand what couples counselling  is designed to do in this regard, it might first be helpful to understand what it is not designed to do (at least as it is practiced by me).

There are a great many people in this world whose role is to be there to “support” couples and families. A multitude of charities, vicars, priests, pastors, Imams, and Rabbis exist to provide support and keep families intact. This is as it should be in accordance with those faiths.

By contrast, as a relationship counsellor I believe it is none of my business whether any two people should work (or fight) to heal a relationship and keep it alive. This is up to them and dependent upon their overall circumstances. My own philosophies or beliefs about what is right or wrong for any two people and/or the future of any given relationship have no place in the work we do together. This is incredibly important because it means that in all of my interactions with a couple, they know that I am not pushing any particular agenda, nor am I trying to get them to any place of my own design.

By the same token however, couples counselling is not designed to help couples split up, separate or divorce – that is the role of family mediation. As described in the 2nd blog of this series, in couples counselling our first goal is to identify and come to understand what any given relationship may need and where it may be unhealthy or simply broken. Then comes the question face by all couples as to whether they wish to next work together to heal their relationship, or find the most peaceful and painless manner to move to the next stage of their individual lives. Importantly, this is their choice, based on their needs and not mine. I do not have an agenda either way.

Hence the answer for this questions of: No, couples counselling is not designed to keep people together. Couples counselling (as practiced by me anyway), is designed to help couples determine what is right for them, and their future based on their specific circumstances and needs. What I can say here however is that in cases where both members in a relationship decide that they want to remain together and heal their relationship, I am able to help them do so roughly 95% of the time though there needs to be a willingness from both parties to change a bit – both in attitude and behaviour.

Despite this level of success, there are times where people arrive at couples counselling with one member of a relationship having already reached a decision that they no longer wish to work to heal their relationship while the other member does. In cases where such a split agenda exists, another potential task of couples counselling comes into play. This is exemplified in the 4th most often question asked of couples counselling: What if I want to keep my relationship together, but my partner does not? The answer to which you will find part 4 of this series.