One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from couples when enquiring about Couple Counselling is ‘will couple counselling work us?’ As much as I want to say ‘absolutely’, the answer is rarely that black and white because as human beings, each of us is ultimately responsible for our own action and behaviour and has a direct impact on the outcome. It is possible however, to identify some of the factors that are likely to guarantee a better outcome for a couple engaging in counselling together.
Here are 6 tips to make Couple Counselling work for you:
1. Make couple counselling your first option for relationship repair
It is in the nature of human beings to put off the things that feel difficult and/or frightening and require effort. How do you deal with issues in your relationship? Do you have a conversation and find a way to resolve the issue or do you resort to a different way of coping; denial, distraction and delay are well worn strategies that couples often use to avoid confrontation and discomfit. You tell yourself that you can live with it if you ignore it or that it will go away if you don’t talk about it, but you are deceiving yourself. Over time, unresolved issues in your relationship cause more conflict, distrust and pain leading to disconnection.
The earlier you go to couple counselling, the more likely your couple relationship can be successful repaired.
2. Choose a Couple Counsellor that you both feel comfortable with
For a successful outcome to your couple counselling, it is important that both partners feel comfortable with the Counsellor, heard and understood. A Couple Counsellor’s priority is your relationship, making every effort to direct interventions towards promoting and building your couple connection. Unlike individual counselling, a skilled Couples Counsellor will be careful not to align more strongly with one partner rather than the other. This can be tricky and it can be a partner’s experience that they feel they are being ‘ganged up on’. In my experience, where you feel comfortable enough to talk to the Couple Counsellor about any negative perception without feeling judged or misunderstood, the therapeutic connection can grow stronger.
Feeling comfortable with your Couples Counsellor is about being able to trust their judgement and having belief and respect for their skill as a Couple Counsellor.
3. Have an agreed couple agenda
What do you want the outcome of couples counselling to be?
What would a ‘successful outcome’ look like?
These are the initial questions your Couple Counsellor will ask you both. Where a couple are in disagreement about the aims and goals of your relationship counselling, the process will lack direction because you are pulling in different directions. A Couples Counsellor will ensure that there is an agreed agenda for the counselling process, even if the initial agenda is to come to a shared agreement about what you want to achieve. It could be the case that as your couple counselling continues you choose to revisit this conversation to further clarify or even reset you agenda.
Talk about where you want your couple counselling to take you both.
4. Have a Mutual Commitment to Couple Counselling
It is not uncommon for one partner to be the initiator of couple counselling and the other partner coming out of a need to appease. Where this is the case, a Couples Counsellor will have a conversation with you about the underlying motivation for coming, seeking to clarify and understand each position before encouraging both partners to give their full commitment. For a successful outcome, Couples Counselling is more likely to be a lengthy process, ensuring that couples have integrated their new skills and behaviour into their relationship. Unfortunately, many couples choose to disengage before this happens, consequently falling back into old patterns of behaviour over time.
Successful Couple Counselling demands that both partners are prepared to be open and vulnerable, honest about themselves and each other and tolerant of the process.
5. Be deliberate about working on your couple relationship between each session
Couple work does not stop at the end of a couple’s session. In fact, the best work occurs between sessions as you carry out the ‘homework’ tasks your Counsellor may set, personally reflect upon the content of the previous session and your learnings from it, talk as a couple about the previous session with your observations and insights and generally keep practicing the skills you are learning.
Where a couple is both deliberately working on their relationship between sessions, you are more likely to have a successful outcome.
6. Be prepared to do your own individual work
Relationship repair involves two people being prepared to reflect upon their own beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. Where you both have a degree of self-awareness, the Couple Counsellor will often choose to address your personal issues within the couple session. On occasion, it is necessary for one or both partners to do individual sessions where there are unresolved personal issues that are hampering the couple process. It is a Couple Counsellors personal preference as to whether they will see you individually between couple sessions or refer you elsewhere to do the individual counselling.
Doing your own individual work is more likely to contribute towards a more successful outcome to your couple counselling.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair your relationship and have a strong, happy and enduring couple relationship then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.