• Becky Whittaker

Couples Counselling - What To Expect

Working with couples, is varied and interesting for both therapist and clients. I always feel incredibly honoured to share some time with the wonderful couples that I work with and have worked with in the past, it is often a true voyage of discovery.

I am often asked what to expect and how couples counselling varies from individual counselling, so I thought this post was a good place to address a few things and hopefully answer a few queries that might come up for you, if you were thinking of embarking on Couples Counselling yourselves.

Here are some frequently asked questions....

How do we know if Couples Counselling is right for us?

As with individuals, I always offer a free no obligation meeting for couples too. It is a good opportunity to meet and talk through some of the concerns that you might have. This meeting is for you both to see if you think you could work with me and for me to see if I think that the style of therapy that I offer would be beneficial to you and your partner.

We are thinking of splitting up, can Couples Counselling still help us?

I often work with couples on the brink of the end of their relationship and for some couples, therapy is a last ditch attempt to save the relationship. Whilst I am not able to offer any guarantee's, I have worked a few times with people close to splitting up and the therapy has been very successful. Only you and your partner will know what is right for you both, however, therapy can really help to explore lots of options, open up the lines of communication and in some cases help to you get to know each other again. Sometimes the end result is that couples still choose to go their separate ways, however, with the support of a therapist this process can become easier and often much more amicable.

Will you side with my partner?

My role as a therapist is to remain calm, centered and completely non-judgmental. I am there to support you both equally and will work very hard to ensure you both have a fair say, that you both feel heard and that you listen to each other effectively. I am not there to make any judgement I just want to listen to both of you and understand what is happening in your relationship.

Do you come up with solutions for us?

In my experience, advice from anyone is not helpful and rarely hits the spot, this is because the person offering the advice is not walking in the shoes of the people receiving it. However, as part of our work together, between the three of us, we may come up with some experiments for you to try out away from our sessions. These experiments are a collaborative effort but are usually led by the couple themselves so that the experiments or tasks fit easily into their lives. Sometimes experiments work well which is great, sometimes they don't work so well, however, we would explore what didn't work and this is often just as useful as the experiment going swimmingly!

We have forgotten how to talk to each other, can you help?

Yes, the essence of couples therapy is about learning to communicate and listen effectively to each other again. If one person talks lots and the other not so much, I will always find ways to even up the balance again. Sometimes couples find it very helpful to listen to their partner telling me how they are feeling, they often learn so much about the person that they have been with for all these years. Sometimes, I may prompt one partner to tell the other exactly what they would like to say whilst the other listens carefully, we may then swap around. I have lots of ideas and techniques to help couples learn to communicate more effectively.

Do you work with same sex couples?

Yes, I do!

We have childcare problems, can you come to our house?

This is something that I am often asked, and the answer is always no. Counselling works best in a neutral setting away from distractions, phones ringing and the Postman turning up! With this in mind, I always ask couples to try and make the time to commit to escaping the challenges of everyday life and focusing on their relationship in the safe haven of my office, coming out of the home environment is actually an important part of the therapy!

We have a tendency to row and argue, can we still come for therapy?

Communication during therapy is often calmer than it is when couples are at home, however, from time to time it is inevitable that rows occur. At the start of the therapy I talk with all of my couples about what they would like to do if a row occurs and one of them needs to leave the room, by formulating a plan in advance, it helps all parties to understand what is required of them. Arguments whereby someone walks out of the therapy room are actually rare, this is due to the change in communication and both of the couple feeling much more heard and understood without the need to raise their voices - however, if you need to take a breather this is completely fine.

I really hope that this FAQ post has been helpful, if there is anything that you would like to ask or if you would like to book in for a free initial meeting please do get in touch, it would be great to hear from you.

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