For my first post, I’ve been thinking about a question that lots of people ask me: does relationship counselling really work?
Well the simple answer to that is of course, yes…and no. That is, if you do the work to make it work, then yes, it works. But is that a really useful answer to the question?
Perhaps a more helpful way to responding this question might be to look at how couples’ counselling works. Then you can decide for yourself if it’s something that will work for you.
So here’s the inside track on how relationship counselling works and how it could help you.
1. It’s a safe space for both of you to feel heard
The main idea behind relationship counselling is that you are in a safe space where you can talk through your issues in a more effective way.
You might have been trying to talk about something that is very emotional and all you end up doing is going round and round in circles and never coming to an agreement.
Maybe one of you gets too upset and angry, or shuts down and walks away whenever you try to work things out?
The therapy room provides a calm secure place where you can broaden, widen and deepen your conversations without getting caught up in patterns that have been getting in the way of you reaching an understanding.
2. Reaffirming commitment
Just by booking your first appointment and agreeing to come together is really significant. It shows the importance of the relationship to both of you and can often be a huge part of the healing process.
3. Identifying patterns
One of the first things you will do with your counsellor’s guidance and experience is identify the circular dance you get caught up in. People often come into therapy really stuck in their positions, feeling unheard, misunderstood and frustrated.
By recognising what you both do and becoming aware of your pattern, you can begin to reconnect and work together to solve your problems.
4. A third person
When it’s just the two of you, it can be easy for arguments to quickly get out of hand as misunderstandings fly back and forth between you like hot potatoes.
Having a third person present can soften the intensity of the discussion. Your counsellor is able to facilitate the conversation so that both of you feel heard and the whole thing slows down and you can get to the root of the confusion.
5. A regular time limited appointment
Previously your conflicts at home might have gone on for hours, days or weeks with only distressing outcomes, so there might be avoidance or anxiety around the issue, which has only made things worse.
Knowing that you will have a time limited conversation of 50 minutes to an hour to discuss this once a week means you can park that problem there while you get on with your life, which can be a huge relief for both of you.
6. Learning new skills
In your sessions you will also be learning more effective ways to communicate and resolve conflict.
These are skills for you to take away and put into practice in all your relationships in your day-to-day life.
Finally, we all need a little hope to get us through sometimes and it just so happens this week that the film Hope Springs is being released starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell. It’s about a couple that have been married for many years and attend marriage/sex therapy.
I absolutely love the casting for this movie and am really looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
Come talk to us
Please do call us if you have any further questions on 0300 100 1234 or click here to find your nearest Relate centre.