Relationship counselling is most usually for couples in any type of relationship (married or not, heterosexual or same-sex) and at any stage of their relationship. However, it can also be helpful around other types of relationship, for example:-
- Relationships between family members
- Relationships between working colleagues
- Relationships between Manager and member of staff
- and of course … the relationship with oneself, for example working on issues around low self-esteem.
Relationship counselling is not always for people in distress, Counsellors do see couples whose relationship is actually very good, and they want to make it even better! However, it is more usually where a couple is in distress due to issues such as an affair, lack of communication, constant arguing or money.
I base my work on Gerard Egan’s Skilled Helper Model (Egan, G. ((2010) “The Skilled Helper”, 9th ed. United States of America: Cengage Learning.) This encourages a solution-focussed approach, where broadly speaking I help clients to clarify the problem, to discuss their feelings around it, to decide what options they have to improve their situation and choose one, and then to put that option into practice with an action plan. So although plenty of talking is strongly encouraged, it is not just “a nice chat” but is hard work!
Within the Egan Model, which is a framework, I also use methods such as Emotionally Focussed Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Person-Centred Counselling and Transactional Analysis.
We need to have both partners in the room to work on a relationship; we cannot really work on improving a relationship when only one of them is present. It is very normal for one partner to be much more enthusiastic about seeking counselling than the other, it is the task of the Counsellor to ensure that once both partners make the effort to attend, they both work to make the experience worthwhile and helpful. If one of the partners is unwilling to attend, the one who is willing is advised to seek Personal Counselling.
Please see the practical information on the What is Counselling? page about length and number of sessions, confidentiality etc. It is very usual for a couple to need at least four to six sessions to do effective work on improving their relationship.