Relationship Counselling: Is It for Us?

Relationship counselling, also known as marriage counselling or couple therapy, originated fairly recently in Germany in the 1920’s. Today it is a popular form of therapy in many countries, and stigma associated with relationship counselling is rapidly disappearing, perhaps because most people who have been or who are presently in a committed relationship, are well aware how complicated in can be to share life with another person for good and for bad. The purpose of relationship counselling is to improve communication, resolve conflicts and strengthen the connection between you and your significant other.

Is This Type of Counselling for You and Your Partner?

Couples seek counseling for many different reasons. These include:

  • Poor communication
  • Infidelity
  • Trauma
  • Substance abuse (e.g. alcohol abuse)
  • Emotional or violent abuse
  • Anger and resentment towards each other
  • Trust issues
  • Inability to overcome past events
  • Cultural disagreements
  • Lack of sexual interest
  • Parenting doubts
  • Chronic illness
  • Separation and divorce
  • and many others.

During a couple therapy session, both partners will be given equal opportunity to share their views and opinions, and the therapist will listen, ask relevant questions and make suggestions for compromise and positive change. Your therapist will not pretend to know you, your partner or your relationship better than you do, but as an objective third person with a mental health background and professional experience, he or she will be able to pinpoint communication flaws, emotional blind-spots and conflicting value systems that are detrimental to the health and growth of your relationship.

Relationship Counselling is NOT For Everyone

Relationship counselling is not suitable for everyone. Some people begin this type of counselling with the illusion that they will be able to better control or change their partner. However, manipulation and ego-centric purposes have no place in therapy. Relationship counselling is meant to be beneficial for all the individuals in the relationship. Do not expect the counsellor to take sides or act as a judge to determine what is right and what is wrong in different situations. For positive results in relationship counselling, both partners must learn to take responsibility for their own actions and feelings, and they must be able to recognize and acknowledge that each person in the therapeutic relationship (including the counsellor) is a worthy and independent human being with a unique personality, background, perception, set of values, and belief systems.

When Relationship Counselling Becomes a Necessity

It is natural for the majority of relationships to go through some rough patches from time to time. Unfortunately, if these difficult situations are not resolved to both partners satisfaction, they can eventually lead to malfunction and self-reinforcing maladaptive patterns. These patterns are sometimes called negative interaction cycles, and they can be incredible difficult to break once they have settled well into your daily routines and interaction with each other. There are many possible reasons for these patterns to persist, including insecure attachment, ego, low self-esteem, unresolved anger issues, jealousy, poor communication or problem solving skills, etc. Furthermore, significant changes in financial status, physical health, family matters, or a relocation to another country, can also have a profound and negative impact on a relationship.

A relationship that is not healthy will manifest symptoms such as poor communication, aggression, infidelity, lack of trust, heated unresolved arguments or indifference, lack of interest (including sexual) in the other, and lack of shared joyous moments. The individuals in an unhealthy relationship can after a while experience prolonged sadness, anxiety, fatigue, feelings of anger and resentment towards the other, irritability, lack of motivation, severe mood swings, and a sense of hopelessness. When a relationship has come to this level of dissatisfaction, the last and only hope for saving the relationship may be relationship counselling. Hopefully, it will not be too late for you to heal.