Why Relationship Counselling?
When couples come to Soothing Minds Counselling & Psychotherapy for relationship counselling, 99% of the time, they have been struggling for at least a year. Research shows that couples don’t seek relationship counselling until at least 5 years of suffering has occurred, be it depression, anxiety, communication, addictions, grief, loss, trauma and mental health. In the meantime, couples have tried to fix their problems on their own but to no avail even though they feel that avoiding them is better. However, this is not the case because things get worse to the point that the next step is separation and then divorce. Therefore, the last resort is to get some help and do relationship counselling.
However, even at this point, there is still some pushback. Here are some of the statements I hear
- This better work as it’s costing me money
- I’m too busy to come every week
- I’ve got better things to do with my time
- How many weeks, you’re kidding me!
It is possible to transform your nightmare relationship to a happy and loving one by following four basic principles. So, what makes couples counselling successful?
- Be 100% Committed to the Process
This can be difficult if you’ve been to other therapists or tried different things without success which has left you feeling frustrated, resentful, or even defeated. However, both individuals must give it their best effort, not just one. Without a doubt, all couples have conflict which impedes progress however it’s how the conflict is managed that determines the outcome. Of course, there are past hurts, distrust and ongoing conflict, and it takes time to be able to work through these. However, therapy works best if couples set aside their resentments and bring down their defensiveness walls, by working on them so that reconciliation can happen which must be fully committed to by both individuals.
- Come with an Open Mind
So, you feel that you’ve tried everything possible from having had a myriad of conversations, arguments, talked to friends, tried various things, so it’s no wonder that you may be feeling sceptical as to not only whether your problems can be overcome so that both of you are satisfied but sceptical that therapy will help. Of course, there are instances where couples do realise that their relationship is no longer healthy or that they are no longer compatible, and therefore make the conscious decision to separate, but in most cases the problem is solvable. For this to take place though, disbelief must be suspended, and instead, both individuals need to be open-minded to the possible benefits from the techniques used in relationship counselling, which are evidence-based methods that have a track record of success. Therefore, resulting in the couple benefiting.
- Prioritize Your Appointments
Just like commitment is required to the process, commitment to prioritizing and attending at least two therapy sessions per month for six months is important. Just as it didn’t take six months for your relationship to morph into what it is currently, healing the relationship is no different. Furthermore, by prioritizing appointments, it communicates to your partner and yourself that the relationship is worth it and therefore you find a way to make it work. When you commit to prioritizing, it serves two functions: – 1) it provides a chance for the relationship counselling to work and 2) it provides the opportunity for the process of tapping into your ability to make positive changes. Research, and from my experience with couples, it takes a minimum of 12 relationship counselling sessions for sustainable change to occur.
- Do the Homework Exercises
The purpose of relationship counselling is not about being able to interact appropriately with each whilst in session, but about learning how to and continuing to do so in real time. Homework is assigned to enable couples to continue applying the techniques learnt in therapy, depending on the issues needing to be addressed. Relationship counselling sessions last 1 ½ hours and yet there are another 6 days and 22 ½ hours in the week where you navigate daily life where conflict arises. Research shows that the more you practice new ways of thinking, responding, behaving, acting, speaking etc the easier it becomes because your neural pathways become stronger. It’s like working a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger the muscle becomes. The brain is similar, in that with time, new ways of relating to each other are learned.
Relationship counselling is an excellent resource that does help many couples overcome their challenges. Factors that help make therapy successful include committing fully to the process, having an open mind, prioritizing appointments, and doing the homework. Yes, seeking help and seeing a therapist, a stranger at that, can be daunting and takes courage and dedication, but it does provide you with the opportunity of changing your life. Click here for more information.
By Marina Levez on 26 November 2017
Doidge, N. (2007). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. A Practice Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expect. New York, NY: Harmony.
Siegel, D. J. (2010). Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. New York, NY: Bantam Books.