You may find that in your marriage or relationship it has become increasingly difficult to talk to each other, maybe you cannot agree on anything and are constantly bickering and arguing. Maybe you are finding it difficult to trust each other or just feel that there is no longer any warmth or closeness in your relationship. Maybe you have children and are concerned about the impact that your relationship is having on them?
Couples/Marriage Counselling is for couples wanting to resolve their difficulties, improve their relationship and recapture the happiness that existed between them when they first met.
What Is Couples Counselling?
Amanda and David, Clapham
You will meet with one of our Therapists, as a couple, for an initial session. This will last between 50-90 minutes (you can decide this prior to the meeting). During this session both you and your partner will be asked in turn to outline the relationship problems that have brought you along to the session, your goals for counselling, the potential obstacles to these goals and any worries or concerns that you have about the process. During this initial session your Therapist will also give you some initial information about what you can expect from Couples therapy.
It is the work that you do outside of sessions that will make the biggest difference to your relationship. Based on your initial session, your Therapist will set you and your partner some tasks to complete before you meet again. Tasks may include keeping detailed records of misunderstanding or arguments, diaries of your thoughts and feelings, listening to a recording of your counselling sessions and practising specific techniques to reduce unhelpful behaviours.
Following your initial couples counselling session with your partner you will each meet individually with the Psychologist so that they can gain a better understanding of what you each contribute to the marriage/relationship and to give you the space to explore and discuss the issues you face without your partner present.
Your Therapist will then meet with you as a couple and present a detailed formulation and treatment plan that will explain why you and your partner are experiencing difficulties and what you can do to change this.
Over the course of the next 10-15 sessions (this is the average minimum number of session) your Therapist will guide you and your partner through the process of making these changes using a combination of couples and individual sessions and homework tasks.
Once you and your partner are satisfied that you have created a happier and more fulfilling relationship for yourselves your Therapist will offer you a number of follow up sessions to help you to secure these changes and tackle any teething problems.
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We spend the majority of our adult lives in an intimate relationship and such relationships not only have the potential to make us happy and protect us from loneliness but research has shown that they improve our physical and mental health. In addition to this a two-parent family is the most successful context for raising children. However, along the way we all encounter obstacles to accessing these benefits and it is not always possible to overcome these without outside assistance.
When you and your partner find yourself stuck in a cycle of angry exchanges, where the same grievances are met by the same rebuttals, when resentment and frustration is found where once there was love and kindness, support from a third party, experienced in resolving relationship problems and restoring harmony and collaboration could be useful.
The closer and more intimate we are with someone the more exposed our insecurities become. Our doubts about ourselves, other people and the world are more easily triggered when our emotions run high and this is never more so than when we are interacting with the people that we love. We act in ways with those closest to us that we would never dream of with those with whom we have less of a connection, so our partners inevitably see the best and worst of us. When something unsettles us, be it an external (e.g. financial pressure, work stress) or internal influence (e.g. low self esteem/confidence), the impact is first felt in our marriage and by our husband or wife. Any number of things can lead to the deterioration of a happy and intimate relationship, the specific trigger is however often less important than what the individual partners bring to the relationship; their core beliefs, responses and communication styles.
This is hard to measure as there are only statistics available for marriages that end in divorce (nearly half of all marriages end in divorce according to The Office for National Statistics), however common sense suggests that relationship problems are the rule not the exception, how we respond to these as a couple is what separates those relationships that endure and those that do not.
Enlisting the help of a third party with the relevant training and experience can help a couple to step back from their marriage problems and consider alternative ways of dealing with these and of interacting with each other in ways that will enhance the quality and longevity of the relationship.