Who might benefit from relationship counselling?
Individuals or couples facing relationship difficulties / challenges
What happens in a counselling session?
- Typically ongoing counselling will involve six - ten weekly one hour sessions but this varies widely depending on individual circumstances.
- The first session may be a one off as its main purpose is to assess whether or not ongoing counselling would be of benefit.
- The aim of the sessions is to help you work through issues you are struggling with so that you can find ways of doing things differently either as a couple or as an individual.
What sort of issues might be addressed?
Below are the sort of comments I hear from people coming for relationship counselling.
- “We just go round and round in circles. Nothing ever gets resolved.” (Recurring arguments that never find resolution)
- “Everything I thought I knew has been betrayed.” or “ I’ve been seeing someone else and I don’t know what to do”(The impact of an affair, including cybersex)
- “I love my partner but I’m not in love with him /her.” (One or both partners feel they have fallen out of love.)
- “We used to talk about everything. Not anymore.” (Communication difficulties.)
- “Sex has become a huge issue. I can’t remember the last time we made love.” (Sexual difficulties)
- “ Everything feels too difficult.” (The impact of illness/ family death/infertility on the relationship)
- “We’re can’t cope with being around each other so much” or conversely “We never have time for each other.”( A life stage change – ‘empty nest’, retiring, work changes, having a child )
- “ I want us to at least be civil towards each other.”( Separating with less hostility)
- “ How do we stop our break up messing up our kids ?” (Managing the impact of divorce/ separation on children)
- “I’ve been unhappy for so long but I don’t know what to do.”( Feeling ‘stuck’)
- “His ex is always interfering.” “Her daughter refuses to accept me.” (Managing changes in family dynamics)
- “This isn’t how I saw my future.”( Coming to terms with the end of a relationship)
- “ My relationships never last beyond a year.”( Identifying why relationships seem to go wrong)
- “ I can’t let myself get hurt again.”( Letting go of the past) .)
How might counselling help?
As a Relate trained relationship counsellor my aim is to provide a neutral environment so that difficult situations and feelings can be explored in a non – judgemental manner. Clients can then be in a position to make informed decisions about the future of their relationship – whether that is staying together or separating.
- For some people, relationship counselling is about learning how to live as a couple, showing mutual respect and appreciation.
- It could be about learning to communicate effectively or rediscovering the mutual love that existed between partners.
- Counselling with a sexual focus can help couples understand the different attitudes each might have towards sex and how these might be reconciled
- For other people counselling provides a space to explore how to respond to changes in family dynamics.
- Counselling can also enable couples to strengthen their relationship as they learn to tackle difficulties together rather than struggle or battle on alone.
Some couples feel their relationship cannot continue and use counselling to process the losses this involves. Some people do this on their own. Some people do this as a couple. Facing the loss is often an important step in moving forward to think about a new future.
Sometimes one partner wants to separate and one wants the relationship to continue. Counselling can help manage these opposing stances.
Separating parents are often concerned about the impact on their children. Counselling can help parents minimise the impact by working with parents to separate their roles as parents from their roles of ex partners
Fay Hanniker M.A. Relationship Therapy
Relate trained. Member British Association Counselling & Psychotherapy