Why couples therapy might be the key to a happy relationship
Couples therapy no longer has a stigma. You just have to watch an American sitcom to see how mainstream it's become. And it looks like Britain's young couples are wising-up to the benefits of early relationship therapy. There are currently an estimated 3 million people in the UK whose The idea that a couple of counselling sessions could sort out our long. Relate is a charity providing relationship support throughout the United Kingdom. Services include counselling for couples, families, young people and Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, Dr John Gottman, America's Love Lab Experts.
This is partly down to a sense of relief that something is finally being done, but mainly because our partner agreeing to this ordeal is concrete proof that she or he cares.
Next, it soon becomes clear that a couple counsellor's responsibility is to the relationship and both of you will get equal time, attention and understanding.
On a deeper level, couple work avoids the victim or "poor me" attitude that can be a by-product of individual therapy, which encourages people to dig deeper into their own world view.
If couples have been able to cooperate enough to set up a home together and raise a family, they soon begin to support each other through the necessary changes to their relationship. For this reason, couple counselling often needs fewer sessions than one-to-one work. There are different types of therapy available: Relationship Counselling for London counselling4London.
Couple counselling tends to work with the immediate problems, although the past is used to illuminate the present.
Tavistock Relationships - Couples counselling & psychotherapy services in London
Couple psychotherapy, however, starts with the deep-seated problems and by resolving these aims to alleviate any current issues. Outside London, most towns will have a Relate centre or outpost offering local couple counselling relate. Relate uses two different types of counselling philosophy: The advantage of going to these organisations is that you can guarantee the counsellors have been trained in couple work. Unfortunately, there are many private counsellors who are qualified for individual therapy but offer couple counselling as a bolt on.
Inside a counselling session So once you have found your therapist, where does he or she start? Personally, I'm always interested in what makes a couple seek help right now, as opposed to in the months or years during which the problems have been building. I also like to hear each partner's individual perspective. Next, I like to put the couple's "presenting" problems - what they have come to me specifically to discuss - into the context of the whole relationship.
So I ask my clients to tell the story of how they met - it helps relax people and remember the good elements of their relationship, and then slowly work up to the present. In the second or third session, I will draw up the couple's joint family tree.
This reveals important life events - the death of a parent, any divorces, and the ages of any children - and shows up similarities and differences in the partners' backgrounds. As a result, the government has shifted its funding from general marriage guidance to only supporting couple counselling for parents, with the aim of encouraging them to stay together and so reduce the disadvantages experienced by children brought up by one parent.
Relate has responded to the government's emphasis on keeping parents together by this month opening the Relate Institute at Doncaster College. This, it hopes, will raise its profile and the role of counselling in saving and maintaining relationships. It will offer postgraduate diplomas in counselling couples and families and a masters programme, and emphasise research and measuring the outcomes of counselling.
An estimated students will graduate in its first year and feed into Relate's 80 centres around the country, most of which now offer family as well as couple counselling. Relate counsellors use a mixture of theoretical models to work through their clients' problems. Systemic ideas involve getting individuals to see the effects of their behaviour on others - someone who has had an affair, for example, may not see it as the terrible betrayal their partner feels it is.
The second theoretical model is a psychodynamic one that deals more with the unconscious processes people bring to their relationships. Arguments over who loads the dishwasher may really be baggage from work you are really fighting with your boss or a previous relationship.
If it sounds Freudian, that's because - loosely - it is. But out of thepeople getting couple counselling from Relate each year, how many relationships does it save? Other research, however, suggests that couple counselling has a limited effect.
Not only does it look as though it doesn't work for most people but also most people don't think about having it. Often, by the time couples seek help, their relationship is already in its death throes.
This seemed to be the case for Lucy and Tom, who finally went for counselling when one of them already wanted to leave. Their counselling did, however, help Lucy deal with the break-up. I was gobsmacked with what Tom came out with in the sessions - it was shocking to hear how he felt nothing for me. One time our counsellor asked us to each write down a list of what we loved. Mine was full of things like 'having friends round for a lovely dinner'.
His list had three people on it and I wasn't one of them. Tom found his own therapist, who diagnosed him as depressed.
A few months away with antidepressants and cognitive behavioural therapy changed how he felt. A year after leaving he moved back in. The expectations I had for how Lucy should treat me were so high that she had a long way to fall. Now I come home, we don't switch on the TV and we talk.