Relationship counselllng is the process of counselling the parties of a relationship in an effort to recognize and to better manage or reconcile troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress. The relationship involved may be between members of a family or a couple, employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.
Relationship counselling helps you to make the most of your relationships, past, present or future. We can help you to work through problems in current relationships, explore the effects of past relationships or look at how to improve and enrich relationships for the future.
We work with all relationship difficulties whether you are in a couple or on your own, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity. What’s important to us is your relationship.
Before a relationship between individuals can begin to be understood, it is important to recognize and acknowledge that each person, including the counselor, has a unique personality, perception, set of values and history. Individuals in the relationship may adhere to different and unexamined value systems. Institutional and societal variables (like the social, religious, group and other collective factors) which shape a person’s nature, and behavior are considered in the process of counseling and therapy. A tenet of relationship counseling is that it is intrinsically beneficial for all the participants to interact with each other and with society at large with optimal amounts of conflict. A couple’s conflict resolution skills seems to predict divorce rates.
Couple therapy (or relationship therapy) is a related and different process. It may differ from relationship counseling in duration. Short term counseling may be between 1 to 3 sessions whereas long term couples therapy may be between 12 and 24 sessions. An exception is brief or solution focused couples therapy. In addition, counseling tends to be more ‘here and now’ and new coping strategies the outcome. Couples therapy is more about seemingly intractable problems with a relationship history, where emotions are the target and the agent of change.
Marriage counselling or marital therapy can refer to either or some combination of the above.
The methods may differ in other ways as well, but the differences may indicate more about the counselor/therapist’s way of working than the title given to their process.
What can I expect from Relationship Counselling?
Beacon counsellors provide a caring and supportive environment to help you find a way through any difficulties you may be facing.
Once you have made an appointment you will be seen by a trained professional who will ask some questions about you and your partner, your relationship and what you hope to get out of your counselling.
How will Relationship Counselling help me?
It really depends what you want to get out of the counselling, but it is rare that you will leave counselling without feeling a positive change. For some people we transform their relationships and their lives; for others we help them solve a specific problem and move forward with more confidence and less anxiety.
Most relationships will get strained at some time, resulting in their not functioning optimally and producing self-reinforcing, maladaptive patterns. These patterns may be called negative interaction cycles. There are many possible reasons for this, including insecure attachment, ego, arrogance, jealousy, anger, greed, poor communication/understanding or problem solving, ill health, third parties and so on.
Changes in situations like financial state, physical health, and the influence of other family members can have a profound influence on the conduct, responses and actions of the individuals in a relationship.
Often it is an interaction between two or more factors, and frequently it is not just one of the people who are involved that exhibit such traits. Relationship influences are reciprocal – it takes each person involved to make and manage problems.
A viable solution to the problem and setting these relationships back on track may be to reorient the individuals’ perceptions and emotions – how one looks at or responds to situations and feels about them. Perceptions of and emotional responses to a relationship are contained within an often unexamined mental map of the relationship, also called a love map by John Gottman. These can be explored collaboratively and discussed openly. The core values they comprise can then be understood and respected or changed when no longer appropriate. This implies that each person takes equal responsibility for awareness of the problem as it arises, awareness of their own contribution to the problem and making some fundamental changes in thought and feeling.
The next step is to adopt conscious, structural changes to the inter-personal relationships and evaluate the effectiveness of those changes over time.
Indeed, “typically for those close personal relations there is a certain degree in ‘interdependence’ – which means that the partners are alternately mutually dependent on each other. As a special aspect of such relations something contradictory is put outside: the need for intimacy and for autonomy.”
“The common counterbalancing satisfaction these both needs, intimacy and autonomy, leads to alternately satisfaction in the relationship and stability. But it depends on the specific developing duties of each partner in every life phase and maturity”.
Common areas for help include
- Destructive patterns of relating can be recognised and addressed.
- Conflict and communication can be improved.
- New relationship skills can be learned.
- The impact of change and loss can be examined.
- Relationships can be more successful.
- Abusive relationships and domestic violence can be acknowledged.
- Sex can be a source of great enjoyment within a long-term relationship and any problems it poses can leave one partner feeling rejected or angry. Loss of desire is often an early sign of problems.
Separation & divorce counselling can help explore whether trust can be repaired or the relationship will need to be rebuilt. If not, it can allow the couple to split with more understanding and less hostility.
Free Relationship Counselling
Free relationship counselling is offered at Beacon.
Relationship counselling can be offered free, couples will be assessed and therapy may be offered as a single session or can be short term between 1-3 sessions or can be anything between 8-20 sessions. The sessions are face-to-face and are completely confidential. Each session will last for 50 minutes and will usually involve both parties in the relationship attending the session. However, some individuals may benefit from seeing the therapist separately before meeting up again as a couple and this can be arranged.