The Role of Couples Counselling

Relationships are complex at the best of times and never more so as a couple. The pressures of our modern life can put a huge amount of stress on us all. Struggling with the balance of working, financial difficulties, running a home, bringing up children, sex is off the menu, are just a few issues to name what can increase the stress and strains on your relationship. With all of this going on in our lives it is understandable to forget that we are primarily a couple with the subsequent impact on the relationship is that we forget to give less attention to the ongoing nurturing of the relationship. Imagine if you will that you have a prized car sitting on your driveway. It has taken a lot of money to purchase this car and therefore it has to last a bit longer than a year or two. Every year you faithfully take it to have its service and MOT. How stressful does it become if you have to take your car to the garage for that unexpected repair or new tyres. However, you are prepared to find the time and effort to take it to the garage to make it better as it’s worth it.

Why is it then that when it comes to our relationships we do not continue the nurturing as it was at the start of the relationship, and why has it become as it so often gets, avoiding those difficult conversations until the situation has become more serious? As a couples counsellor at the start of the counselling sessions, I often hear that the couple’s relationship started off so well and now find themselves in a vicious cycle of “we just don’t communicate“, “we no longer have the fun we used to have”, and “we seem to be constantly arguing”.

Once a couple find themselves in this vicious cycle it can be difficult to find a way out and the only option may be either separation or divorce which is usually one of the most traumatic and emotional time of your lives. Couples counselling can provide you with the support needed to help you to improve your relationship.

A couple’s counsellor will provide a safe, caring, supportive and non-judgement environment to help you work your way through the difficulties that you may be facing in your relationship. I have been told on occasions by couples that they appreciate being able to talk to someone outside of the normal family and friends support network. At the start of the first couple of sessions a counsellor will help you as a couple identify the issues of the problems you are facing from both of your prospective, together with reflecting on how this is now impacting the relationship. It will be discussed as to what both of your expectations are of the counselling and how it would feel to get back to once again being a connected couple instead of two individuals in your relationship. If you decide that couples counselling is the best way forward for both of you, it will depend on what issues you are experiencing in your relationship as to how many sessions maybe required.

There is that preconceived idea that the counselling “will fix the issues” in a couple of sessions which sometimes but very rarely can do so. Generally I have found that between six and twelve sessions is enough to help you look at your relationship now and give you the tools to repair the ruptures moving forward for the future. An hour of your time a week is a good investment for your relationship. Ideally to get the most out of counselling it would be better to do so at the first signs of trouble, that way it is easier to address the frustration and resentment that seems to be building up before it gets to the serious arguing and conflict stage. Sadly most couples come to counselling at the latter stage. On so many occasions I have experienced that one partner of the relationship is going because he/she has been told to do so. Be open minded about what you may gain from the counselling, bearing in mind as to how much you have up until now invested in the relationship.

As a counsellor we are trained to listen, ask questions and look at your relationship through a different lens, which will give an insight into the relational dynamics that is causing the problem. I would like to also add that the counsellor is not there to take sides they are there purely to look at the relationship. It is important to be honest on how you are feeling in the relationship not only to the counsellor but more importantly to your partner. To use the old cliché our past has an impact on our present is so true. A counsellor will work with you both to explore what it was like growing up in your respective families, and subsequent relationships you have had until you both met. The reason for exploring your historical patterns of your relationships is to gain a better understanding of the patterns that you are stuck in.

This will help you gain an insight of what has influenced your unconscious behaviour to conscious to enable you to rebuild a healthier pattern of relating with each other. So how will couples counselling improve your relationship. It will provide you with improved communication skills on what is said verbally and what is not said but eluded to, learn about each other’s vulnerabilities and how to take responsibility for their part in your relationship. You would learn how to give each other back the emotional intimacy you once had when you both fell in love, and help rebuild a safe and fulfilling relationship that you both deserve. Although gaining insight is important, you will need to put this in practice.

Depending on your counsellor, you will probably be given homework to apply the learning outside of the sessions in a safe way to enable the change of the behaviours and ways of positively interacting with each other.

Couples counselling – Hope Therapy and Counselling Services (

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