can counselling help a relationship
Relationship Blog

Can Counselling Help a Relationship?

Can counselling help a relationship?

All relationships ebb and flow through the good times and the bad. When issues occur, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with your relationship. It can be part of the natural growth of spending time together. 

If you feel that you are not resolving your problems and want to make your relationship work, couples counselling could be the answer. 

In this article, I look at couples counselling and give a brief overview of how it works, what you can expect and some areas where a relationship therapist can help.

Table of Contents

What is Relationship Therapy?

Couple Counselling is also known as relationship counselling, relationship therapy, marriage guidance or marriage counselling.

It is a talking therapy, where you can get professional advice about your relationship. But instead of having a 1 – 1 with a counsellor, you and your partner sit with the counsellor to discuss your relationship.

You might choose to discuss how you are relating to each other or that you want to resolve a specific problem. Also, you don’t have to be romantically involved with the other person.

If you want to improve your relationship with a business partner or family member, couple counselling may also help.

For the sake of this article, we focus on counselling for couples in a romantic relationship.

This video from Counselling Directory explains more about what to expect:

What is Couples Counselling?

What a relationship counsellor can do for you

When you seek counselling, don’t expect the counsellor to sit there and fix your problems. They are also not there to give their own opinion on your relationship, or tell you how horrible your partner is and how you are in the right.

A counsellor is there to facilitate a conversation between the two of you and to help you to understand what the issues are in your relationship. You might think you know what the problems are but they will help you get to the very bottom of them and help you to understand the underlying causes.

Couple counselling is very different from one to one work as there are three of you in the room. However, the counsellor still has to maintain confidentiality, focus on your needs and keep within the code of ethics. 

Some areas a counsellor may help with:

  • Defining goals within the relationship that you both agree on
  • Help you both to understand the meaning of your actions
  • Assist you with communication
  • Look at the reasons why you make the same choices that affect the relationship
  • Help you understand how behaviours damage your relationship

The Benefits of Couple Counselling

Couple counselling will help you thrive as an individual and together as a couple. Improved relationships can give you both a better quality of life and support good mental health.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been together; couple counselling can help you at any stage of your relationship. Whether you’ve been together for a short time or many years, it’s never too late to try couples therapy if you want to maintain a happy relationship.

Couple Counselling can Help
Couple counselling can improve your relationship

You don’t have to leave it until it’s too late and your relationship is at a crisis point. Don’t see counselling as a way to help heal a badly damaged relationship, do your best to deal with problems before they arise and overwhelm you.

See therapy as an opportunity to talk about what you are struggling with and how you hope the relationship can survive. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings as the therapy room is a safe space for you and your partner to talk about your relationship.

What it doesn’t do

Couples therapy doesn’t do the work for you. It requires investment from both you and your partner, and it helps if you are both entirely on board with the counselling before you begin.

For the counselling to be truly beneficial, you and your partner will have to be honest, courageous, and transparent with each other. And don’t be surprised if you start arguing in front of the counsellor. 

A good counsellor will step in and refocus the session. They will most likely encourage you to explore how you both feel and look at a problem from a different perspective. 

The counsellor may also provide you with relationship coaching. Their technique might include showing you how to communicate differently with one another. But remember, they are not there to solve your problems or take sides. It’s essential that you are both heard, and the counsellor will facilitate that.

Abusive relationships

If the counsellor identifies that the relationship is abusive, they can provide referrals to get the help you need for your safety. 

Most importantly, a couple counselling session is not about the opinions of the counsellor.

Reasons why you may want couple counselling

There are various reasons that a couple may decide it’s time to try counselling. One common issue is when it comes to communication between the couple. 

You probably know what it feels like to talk not be ‘heard’ or even hear or understand what your partner needs. It can be easy to fall into our own view of the world. 

There can be many reasons why couples want to seek help and support in their relationship. Couples face different challenges throughout their relationship but if you can communicate well it can help you to overcome difficulties.

Common reasons couples attend a couples counselling session.

  • Infidelity
  • Trust issues
  • Jealousy
  • Communication issues
  • Lack of trust
  • Financial problems
  • Opposing or different parenting styles
  • Life changes such as illness, redundancy, a death in the family, or children leaving home
  • Religious differences
  • Extended family issues
  • Issues with sex and emotional intimacy
  • Problems with work 
  • Inequality of chores or responsibilities at home

This list is not finite; relationships can be complex things. After all, we’re very complicated beings and there can be many other factors that affect your relationship or marriage.

Your counsellor will help you get to the bottom of any difficulties and attempt to see the situation from both your side and that of your partner.

Your counsellor may also guide you to explore your differences and similarities and how you can both work to your strengths. 

Be prepared to examine your relationship.

When you go for an initial session it’s perfectly normal to feel some nervousness and concerns about what the counselling may reveal. You may be worried that you will come away feeling hurt or that the session will cause conflict.

During the counselling, you may be encouraged to look at how you work together in your relationship. This will help the counsellor to get a clearer understanding of your relationship.

Before going into your counselling session, consider what you want from it and take to time to think about how you interact together as a couple.

A couple sitting apart
Be prepared to examine your relationship

Some areas to consider:

  • How you perceive your commitment to each other
  • How do you communicate?
  • What do you enjoy doing together?
  • How do you generally resolve disputes?
  • How do you show your love for each other? (Love languages
  • What are your shared interests?

Looking at your relationship together helps you make sense of what your partner may be experiencing. You may be surprised by what they say, and together you can come up with an action plan, something you can both work on after your sessions.

Remember, it’s the work you do between the counselling sessions that may well have the most significant impact. 

What if couples counselling doesn’t keep us together?

Sometimes the sessions may identify that you are not a good fit as a couple. That doesn’t mean that the therapy has failed. It means that staying in the relationship may cause future unhappiness for both of you. 

If you decide to end your relationship, counselling can help you end it well. It can provide the safe space you need to take care of important issues in a healthy and non-confrontational way.

Divorce is never easy but with the support and understanding of a professional, it can be less painful for you and your children if you have them.

Remember – it’s not all about you.

To attend couple counselling sessions means that you are both willing to take that step toward growing and strengthening your relationship.

Some may feel that if they have to see a relationship specialist, they have somehow failed at their relationship, but that is not the case. Instead, the opposite is true. It means that you both want the relationships to work and move forward to understand each other more. 

Wanting to attended relationship counselling can be a sign that you have a healthy relationship.

Couples counselling requires you to acknowledge what is happening; The counsellor is there to shine a light on the reality of your relationship problems, and some of what your partner says may be hard to hear. 

If you are open to exploring all aspects of your relationship, you are more likely to succeed, no matter how uncomfortable that might be.

Choosing a professional therapist

When you’ve reached the point of wanting to deal with your relationship issues, how do you choose a counsellor?

It may not be easy to ask for recommendations, after all, having counselling is a private matter that some couples may choose not to discuss.

But, if you know a friend who has had counselling, ask them first if they would recommend their counsellor.

Failing that, the next step would be to look in a counselling directory. There are several good directory’s online and I can recommend the following:

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