Couples and Relationships
Who is couple counsellling for?
I will work with you if you are married or life partners or intimate friends and whatever your sexual orientation or gender. I will also work with other relationship pairs like parent and adult child (18 or over), work colleagues, etc.
Do you see us separately?
Not usually, it is generally more straightforward if I see you both at the same time. The important focus in couple counselling is that you come to understand each other more fully and this entails working together on your issues rather than separately.
What are sessions like?
My aim is to listen objectively and fairly to both of you. It isn't about me taking sides, I work to genuinely understand the position and feelings of each client. Part of the process is for me to clearly communicate the position of one partner to the other partner in a way that the other can hear it in a non-defensive way.
It is common that you will have different positions as well as different expectations about what you want to get from counselling. You and your partner may have a very different sense of the state of the relationship ... it's might be that one of you suspects that the relationship is finished, whilst your partner really wants it to continue. My role is to genuinely honour and value both positions, without trying to influence things in either direction.
Will you tell us what to do?
I will make suggestions about things you can explore and help you to "hear" each other but I won't be telling you whether your relationship should come to an end or not. When you are uncertain about your future it is my role to create a safe space in which you can each start to get a clearer picture in your own head about your desires and wishes as individuals and for your relationship. This will help you come to a mutual decision about the future of your relationship.
We aren't about to break up, we love each other, we are just struggling with issues in our life together and under stress as a couple, can counselling help us?
Sometimes you may be trying to deal with events that affect you both like the death of a child or fertility problems, or maybe one of you has lost their job or retired, these kinds of experiences create changes in your life together which you may be dealing with very differently. It can be difficult to understand each other in these situations or find a way to accommodate the demands placed upon you as individuals and as a couple. My role here is to help you feel more resourced and understand each other's viewpoint, which will facilitate a mutually supportive and enjoyable here and now as well as enriching your future together.
I don't know if I want to stay in the relationship with my partner, would couple counselling be appropriate for us?
Ending a relationship is a difficult and often painful thing to do, especially if you have children. Counselling can help you to work through the possibility or reality of ending things in a way that supports you both. Couple counselling isn't intended to steer you in any direction, it is more about making it eaiser for you to explore any important issues that have come up and to understand each other, whether you decide to stay together or separate.
My partner had an affair we are in crisis, can you help?
In the difficult period when an affair has come to light, counselling can be very helpful. Everything can seem up in the air for both partners and it can seem unclear whether the relationship can survive. Sessions are a safe place for both partners to explore what direction they want to go in and figure out if they are prepared to try and work through relationship issues surrounding the break in trust and the emotions that have been brought to the surface by the affair.
If the partner who had the affair says that she or he wants to end it and stay in their primary relationship, or the affair is already over, counselling can address the break in trust and the high emotions that have been activated, eventually assisting a couple as they navigate towards a new understanding and find a way forward together.
If the affair isn't over and the partner who had the affair is ambivalent about whether stay with affair partner or stay in his or her primary relationship, counselling gives an opportunity to move towards clarity. This may mean the end of the relationship because the partner who had the affair isn't willing to focus on the primary relationship or the partner in the primary relationship want's to end things because he or she isn't convinced that the affair will be ended once and for all.
In both cases the partner who has discovered that an affair has been going on may decide that he or she isn't able to contemplate a repair of the relationship and the focus of sessions will be on making an ending to the relationship that allows both partners to move on with as little unfinished business as possible.
How long will we need to be in couple counselling?
There isn't a "one size fits all" when it comes to the number of sessions you may find helpful. You may find that you only need a few sessions to get back to a position of being able to reach mutual understanding and keep yourselves connected, even when life events are challenging. Some couples need sessions over a longer period to learn how to develop an entirely new way of being together. After couple counselling has helped you create the kind of connection you both value, you may want to use the counselling hour on a less frequent basis as a way of giving yourselves a "this is us" check-in opportunity. You will know as a couple when you feel that your counselling sessions have brought you to a way of being together that supports you both and you are resourced enough to end your sessions.