It can be difficult to resolve conflict in your romantic relationships on your own, with so much at stake and complex emotions and histories involved. Find out what to expect in couples counselling, and whether seeking help from a trained professional could help to move your relationship forward in a positive and constructive way.
Romantic relationships are not easy, and all relationships will come into conflict at some point. Whether it’s an affair or betrayal of trust, problems with money, changing desires within the relationship, differing opinions or constant fighting, relationships can, and often do, break down.
If those involved can’t come to an agreement themselves, the area of conflict might need to be addressed with professional help. This is where a relationship counsellor comes in.
What is the aim of relationship counselling?
Relationship counselling helps people better understand their relationship by gaining insight into its strengths, and the patterns of interactions that have become detrimental to the relationship.
A relationship counsellor will help the couple understand what’s causing tension in their relationship, and how it might be affecting others around them, including their children. They encourage those in the relationship to be honest and vulnerable with each other, so they can better understand each other’s needs and desires.
Counselling can provide an immense amount of help to people from all backgrounds to improve their relationship and create a positive future.
What do relationship counselling sessions involve?
Relationship counselling sessions are conducted with a professional counsellor, psychologist or therapist who is primarily trained to resolve issues that cause distress in romantic relationships.
The preferred methods and strategies of a relationship counsellor can differ depending on the therapist, but they’ll generally all have the same goal – to ensure the relationship can move forward in a way that feels positive and constructive for both individuals.
What kind of questions will a couples counsellors ask?
At the beginning, relationship counsellors will seek to understand the initial problems being encountered. They’ll ask questions and work in partnership with the couple to help either enhance their relationship or overcome the obstacles they are facing. Some of the initial questions may include:
- What issues have you been experiencing?
- How long have these issues been a problem in your relationship?
- How have you tried to resolve these issues so far?
- What do you want for your future relationship?
Initially, both people within the relationship will generally attend the session together. Then, each person may choose to see the counsellor individually later on.
How a relationship or marriage counsellor can help a couple in the long term
A relationship counsellor will focus on your relationship and its needs, as well as the needs of any children you have. They will offer distressed couples strategies to use to improve their communication, and will create an action plan to help them understand each other’s needs and assist them in overcoming their issues.
They’ll function as an observer and moderator to allow those involved to openly discuss their problems and issues within the relationship. They’ll also help guide the conversation to break barriers within the relationship and to create a mutual understanding.
Throughout the sessions, a relationship counsellor will use the following techniques to help improve the relationship:
- Creating open discussions
Allowing a safe place for each member to share their feelings
- Role playing
- Analysing behaviour and communication patterns
- Discussing ways to improve the relationship
Does a relationship counsellor always save relationships?
Sometimes a relationship has already broken down beyond repair and a relationship counsellor can’t always restore it. In some situations, it may even be best for the couple to come to a mutual agreement to go their separate ways and end the relationship.
In this case, a relationship counsellor can offer support and guidance for the separating parties, as well as providing advice on the various issues facing each person. If the couple have children involved, the relationship counsellor can help advise on the best course of action for the whole family.
How do I find a relationship counsellor?
If you’re interested in meeting with a counsellor and discussing how they might be able to help move your relationship forward, Relationships Australia NSW offers couples counselling that can help you. You can attend a counselling session at one of our centres or meet with a counsellor online.