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COUPLES COUNSELLING

Couple Counselling addresses the problems arising from adult sexual or intimate relationships. The relationship, rather than the two individuals, is the ´client´.

Our very closest relationship: a marriage; civil partnership or co-habitation, is based on trust and intimacy. When either of these two components stops working we are affected deeply and our health and contentment suffer. Our sense of identity and self-worth often rests on the strength of our relationships and we can despair when our prime relationship fails.

External pressures like work, relationships with the rest of the family, money and health all take their toll.

We all bring into our relationships certain set of values, habits and beliefs about ourselves and the world. Patterns of behaviour that we learned as children often re-emerge in our adult relationship.

Symptoms
  • Communication breaks down
  • Sex has ended or is not enjoyable
  • Arguments continue without any constructive resolution
  • Violence erupts
  • Depression or other health problems recur
  • The bond of trust is eroded or broken

If you have recognised that some of the issues listed above have been part of your relationship then perhaps renegotiating, with a skilled therapist, can help build a more realistic and deeper relationship.

When is the right time for Couple Counselling?
  • There has been a betrayal of trust; an affair, debt or secret.
  • Talking causes confusion or unbearable anger
  • Separation or divorce seem like the only option
  • Desire has gone or sex is no fun
  • Arguments and bickering go on and on…..
  • Differences of views on parenting which can cause mutual resentment

It is beneficial to attend together unless there is domestic violence or fear. Counselling can be undertaken with one partner if that feels more safe and comfortable.

Being able to manage conflict, arguments and rows is the foundation stone to a good relationship. It is unrealistic to hope that arguments can be avoided or they will simply go away. Passive-aggressive behaviour also will not help you improve your communication.

Two people come with their own values and beliefs and both must feel heard in order to thrive. This may mean developing new skills.

How can Couple Counselling help?
  • Destructive patterns in a relationship can be recognised and addressed
  • Conflict and communication can be improved
  • New relationship skills can be learned
  • The impact of change and loss can be examined
  • Relationships can be more successful
  • Abusive relationships and domestic violence can be acknowledged and addressed at source
  • Parenting skills can be strengthened

Discussions are a healthy and essential part of any relationship and can energise it if carried out skilfully. Indirect (passive-aggressive) anger and domestic violence are destructive.

Differences need to be acknowledged; otherwise we merge or one partner is unheard. Then one partner may dominate and the other ´hides away´ into the background, often breeding resentment.

Counselling can help with understanding the messages about conflict that we may have inherited from our family and offer new skills.

Content written Denise Pickup BACP (Accred) in 2008, edited by Jana Stanton


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