Help and Support for Couples
Does my relationship need help?
Partnerships and marriage can provide us with the greatest happiness and satisfaction, but can also be a source of great anxiety and isolation when there are problems. Despite the presence of genuine love, day to day interactions can soon come to highlight unmet needs, frustration, and hurt feelings. Marriage is a demanding undertaking and all too many couples find themselves unprepared for the conflicts that can gradually and often subtly develop.
Signs that your relationship needs help:
- Poor Communication or no communication
- Frequent arguments, often without any resolution
- Sex problems e.g. no sex
- Living separately
- Violence towards each other in the relationship
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health problems
- Working overtime to avoid spending time in the relationship
- Difficulty trusting each other – affairs, debts or secrets
- If separation or divorce feels like the only option
- Addiction problems
How can counselling or therapy help my relationship?
The essence of couple’s therapy is to help you overcome conflicts and develop healthy behaviour in your relationship. At Fresh Mind Therapy we use a highly effective branch of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/pages/introduction.aspx). The CBT approach to couples therapy works on the basis that both partners’ individual beliefs and perceptions, both towards themselves and the relationship, start to dictate how they feel and behave towards each other. In your therapy sessions you will therefore learn to develop balanced beliefs that support yourselves, the relationship and your love for each other.
Every person goes into a relationship with certain expectations. While completely natural, this creates a certain dynamic which can lead to distorted perceptions of behaviour and result in unrealistic demands. Therapy helps you to identify and, if needs be, challenge these expectations for a more balanced and happy unity.
Stop playing the blame game
‘Casual attribution’ is another area in which couples often struggle. In other words, you blame each other for the problems of the relationship and refuse to take responsibilities for your issues. In therapy, we use a technique called the ‘restricting process’ which teaches you both to view your conflicts as mutual and to work conjointly to solve them.
How do the sessions work?
In the initial session, the focus will be on observing how you function and interact as a couple. In addition to this, we may gather some background information regarding how and under what circumstances you met, whether or not you live together or are married, the number and ages of children from this and previous relationships, and a history of the presenting problems.
Through working together, and separately…
Therapy usually involves both parties in the relationship and can take place over a period of weeks or months. However, subsequent to the initial conjoint interview, a separate interview is conducted with each partner. This gives both of you a chance to express your feelings and concerns without fear of judgement or argument.
What’s the role of my therapist?
We may use several methods to help you work through your issues including:
- Teaching communication skills
- Developing problem-solving skills
- Observing your interactions and identifying unhelpful behaviours and thoughts
- Increasing positive interactions in your relationship
- Role playing
- Exploring both your childhoods and family histories and the influences they have on your marriage or partnership
The role of your therapist therefore is not to fix the issues for you, but to help you develop skills to resolve your issues together. Working on your marriage with therapy always takes a joint commitment from both partners and an understanding that it may take time.
What if I know I want to split from my partner or spouse?
In most cases, break-up can be avoided through addressing and working through your problems both together and with a couple’s counsellor. However, if you expressly wish to separate, then couples counselling can help you achieve this in a balanced and supported way.
If you feel that your relationship or marriage needs help or you are considering breaking up from your spouse, get in contact with us now for support (link)