Will Relationship Counselling Benefit Our Relationship?
Relationship Counselling will not work for all couples, but where the potential benefits are realised, the resulting relationship can become deeper and closer making it the best that you have ever had. However, deciding whether therapy it is right for your relationship is an important step in a couples relationship journey.
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Benefits of Relationship Therapy:
If you decide on relationship counselling the benefits include:
- Often quicker compared to individual counselling.
- Sometimes you will get an immediate “feel good” as the therapy “kicks in”.
- Getting your issues resolved.
- Getting a sense of working together on your relationship.
- Feeling a sense that the other “cares” and want to make it work
Exploring the Need for Relationship Counselling:
Whether attending relationship counselling will be of benefit to your relationship is complex – with no simple answer. To start, it is helpful to consider what is happening within your relationship. Perhaps you are experiencing the same issues over and over and can’t seem to sort them out – a recurring cycle? Or maybe you start to argue about the simplest things, but then the rows escalate into something altogether more conflictual? Sometimes the issues that you encounter leave you feeling that they are impossible to fix?
Alternatively, is it in moments of contemplation, when you have time to think about your partnership, that you start to feel that the only “glue” holding you together is your busy lives? Oftentimes this conceals a sense of feeling stuck or bored in a relationship gone stale. Equally, being cheated on – infidelity – can be the driving force which brings you into therapy in order to to deal with the hurt and lies and to rebuild the trust in the relationship.
What is Relationship Counselling?
Proven to be successful, relationship counselling offers a structured environment with a supportive therapist to navigate and resolve challenging aspects that may be difficult to openly discuss with your partner. Typically these include: sex, children, and in-laws to name a few. Of course, there are many other reasons that make relationship counselling useful as it gives you helpful tools and techniques within in a positive and supportive therapeutic setting which enables you to choose to behave differently in your relationship. Gottman’s research into relationships identified that:
The key difference between successful and unsuccessful relationships was that in successful relationships, the couple managed to solve their disagreements!
Notably, this is a skill set that can be acquired through therapy!.
What are the Different Types of Relationship Counselling?
Couples therapy comes in various forms, each with its own unique approach. Here are some notable types:
- Behavioural Couples Therapy (BCT):
- Focuses on changing specific behaviours within the relationship. It often involves goal-setting, communication skills training, and problem-solving strategies.
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT):
- A short-term approach that focuses on improving emotional bonds between partners. EFT often explores patterns of attachment and helps couples create more secure connections.
- Cognitive-Behavioural Couples Therapy (CBCT):
- Incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioural therapy to address negative thought patterns and behaviours within the relationship. It aims to replace destructive patterns with healthier alternatives.
- Integrative Couples Therapy:
- Draws on techniques and theories from various therapeutic approaches. Integrative therapy tailors the treatment to the specific needs of the couple, combining elements from different modalities.
Beginning Couples Counselling
It is a very common experience that starting couples counselling feels to be a big step: often you may even have additional concerns because you are not deciding to come alone but with your partner. Sometimes it is the “scare” that even though the counselling environment is supportive, that you are going to have to expose your most inner thoughts and hopes whilst your partner is ready to disagree with you. It might even be that you feel that the therapist will side with your partner. These feelings are very common to have but it is important to recognise that a skilled therapist is committed to working in the best interest of the couple, and that this is agreed with you at the start of therapy.
Will Relationship Counselling Work for me?
Whether it’s for marriage guidance or your new relationship, couples counselling is certainly not an easy option as you need to have the desire and motivation to make things work. However, once you have made the commitment to therapy – and that really means to each other- you often find that you start to rekindle and generate the a mutually supportive environment. In turn, this allows you to make the changes required to allow you to rediscover the joy in your your relationship again. So to conclude, if the motivation is there, there is a very good chance that couples counselling will indeed work for you.
Help and Resources for Couples Counselling:
More resources can be found on Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy Couples page: Couples Couples Counselling Resources. This article is part of a series, with the second part providing practical tips for ensuring the success of your couples therapy. Part 2 can be found here: Top-Ten Tips for Making your Couples Therapy Work
For those seeking additional guidance and resources on couples counselling, consider exploring the following books and websites:
- “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver: A practical guide based on research, offering insights into building and sustaining a successful marriage.
- “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Dr. Sue Johnson: Explores the science of love and attachment, providing tools for building stronger emotional connections.
- “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples” by Harville Hendrix: Introduces the concept of Imago Relationship Therapy and offers insights into creating a lasting, loving relationship.
- “The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships” by John M. Gottman: Provides practical tools for building and maintaining strong relationships within the family unit.
- Gottman Institute: The official website of the Gottman Institute, offering resources, articles, and information on workshops for couples.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) – Couples and Families: AAMFT provides resources and information on marriage and family therapy
- Psychology Today – Relationships: Online platform featuring articles, blogs, and a therapist directory focused on relationships..
These resources cover a range of perspectives and approaches to relationship counselling. Always remember to consult with qualified professionals when seeking advice specific to your situation.
Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a range of issues including addictions. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .
Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Ken McLeish BA DMS MBA MSc MSc Cert Ed UKCP Reg
Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy