Who seeks relationship counselling?
Any two people in a relationship with each other. That may be partners; husband and wife; husband and husband; wife and wife; friends; 2 colleagues; mother and child; father and child; siblings and so the list goes on. If you are struggling with a relationship with anyone in your life and feel that it has become difficult to communicate with each other, then relationship counselling could be really helpful for you.
Having individual counselling helps with relationships, but if both parties attend, it can really increase their understanding of both themselves and each other. Relationship counselling gives you the opportunity to understand what is going on between you so that you have the chance to change unhealthy ways of relating.
For those of you in an intimate partnership, we are not taught how to negotiate the various phases of a long-term relationship. In the early stages, passion can help us to ignore differences in opinion or unusual habits harboured by our new partner. Psychologist Dorothy Tennov (1979) called this stage ‘limerence’, saying that someone affected becomes ‘more or less obsessed… and spends much of their time fantasising’ about their partner.
By the time couples ask for help, this stage is often long gone and both parties may be struggling to remember what first brought them together. They may have very different ideas about what love is and how they feel it should be expressed. They may be in conflict regarding how to parent their children. One may be having an affair and be experiencing ‘limerence’ with another. Whatever the reason, it can be really helpful to have someone else in the room helping both partners to understand what is going on for the other.
Gestalt Therapy is grounded in the here and now. Should you decide to work with me, we will be looking at how you are communicating with each other in the room while I am present. We will be working together to enable you both to better understand how it is for the other. Hearing your partner describing their experience to me without you interrupting can be a really useful process. When we are in conflict with each other, we find it hard to hear what the other is trying to say. We tend to hear it through a filter that can change the meaning into something we would expect our partner to say. Simultaneously, we may not feel heard or understood ourselves so that we just don’t seem to get any further forward.
How counselling helps
Although we are working on how you are experiencing each other in the room, you will also bring in how you feel about any issues arising between the sessions. This provides really useful material to work on. As the work progresses, clues will arise as to where particular ways of relating have developed from and we will work on these.
As the sessions progress, the aim is that you become increasingly aware of how you feel and simultaneously more able to express that to each other. In time, I should be retreating further as I become needed less to facilitate the dialogue between yourselves.