Whether people are single or have a partner, they continue to grow and change throughout their lives and sometimes they just realise one day that they have grown apart. In addition “life happens” and couples are faced with life events that impact on their relationship such as job changes, having to move, an unexpected pregnancy, or a loss of income. Moreover people sometimes do things that they regret later resulting in mistrust and anger between partners. And to top it off, some people are just not what they appeared to be initially! Being in a committed relationship or in a marriage is hard work at times.
By consulting with a psychologist, couples can be helped to overcome many of the challenges inherent in relationships, and relationship problems that initially might appear to be a hopeless situation can be turned around to an experience of growth and enrichment.
Unfortunately it will be naive to think that all relationships can be saved. For couples counselling to be effective, both partners need to be committed to the counselling process and more so, committed to heal (or in some cases reinvent) their relationship. Couples counselling therefore usually commences with an assessment by the psychologist to determine the nature of the relationship problem, the expectations of the partners in terms of the counselling process, and their expectations with regards to the future of their relationship. Couples councillors will attempt to remain objective towards both partners in a relationship and thus refrain from “taking sides”. Rather the couples counsellor will “take the side” of the relationship and reflect the impact of each partner on the relationship back to them. In addition the couples counsellor can assist the couple to improve aspects of their interaction with each other and make recommendations with regards to activities that the couple can engage in that might be helpful to the relationship. Because of the importance for both partners to trust the counsellor to “take the side” of the relationship, it is optimal that both partners consult with the councillor together as of the first session when this is possible.
If one of the partners have already been consulting with a psychologist individually for a while it is quite likely that the psychologist will refer the couple to another psychologist for couples counselling in order to prevent a conflict of interest or a situation in which the counsellor will be unable to maintain impartiality. Problems in partner relationships can sometimes be related to a pre-existing individual psychological difficulty experienced by one of the partners. Likewise a partner relationship problem places an immense amount of additional stress on both partners – sometimes leading to secondary problems for the individuals in the relationship. It is therefore not uncommon for individual partners in a relationship problem to consult with another psychologist individually while they are in the process of couples counselling.
Couples counselling does not however need to be reactive, especially in the case of couples who are planning to get married or who wish to plan a family. Pre-marital counselling can be a vital tool in helping couples to get to together and stay together! In the process of pre-marital counselling a couple is provided with an opportunity to assess various aspects of their relationship and how these aspects might change when starting a family or when getting married. Couples can be prepared for “potholes” that they might hit in the future of their relationship. In addition their expectations and knowledge about each other is “reality checked”.
WHO CAN BENEFIT
Couples often consult with a psychologist for counselling for the following problems amongst others:
- Relationship Enrichment
- “Drifting Apart”
- Dealing with Stressors Impacting on the Relationship
- Excessive Conflict or Relational Frustration
- Infidelity or Suspected Infidelity
- Dissatisfaction with the Relationship
- Pre-Marital Counselling
- Divorce Counselling
For more information or if you would like to book an appointment please contact me on (021) 919 3666 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org