Counselling, in a general sense, is a therapeutic relationship that is usually engaged in by two people: the client, who is seeking support or assistance with a challenge in their life, and the therapist or counsellor, who is there to provide the process in which the therapeutic relationship is established.
The goal of therapy is to help the client meet their individual goals, whatever they may be. Individual counselling can be beneficial for anyone. It is not just for people that have been diagnosed with a mental disorder (which is the typical reason for seeking advice), but also applies to: self-growth, feeling stuck, trouble dealing with stress, difficulty connecting to emotions, not feeling yourself, physical or emotional trauma, any suffering that you are experiencing, and relationship issues.
Couples counselling is a form of counselling that concentrates on meeting the mutual goals of a couple, so the client is the relationship between the couple and not either person. It is for couples that are struggling in some way: distress, escalation, or lots of arguments; infidelity or betrayal; disconnection or disengagement; one or both partners struggling with some form of addiction; or a couple just wanting to increase the already good bond that they have by connecting in a deeper way.
It can be very scary to think of coming in for couples counselling. Common fears include:
• Coming in will contribute to the relationship ending
• Finding out things about your partner that you do not want to know
• The risk of opening up to your partner and to a stranger
• Worrying that the discussion in the session will not be kept confidential
• The therapist will judge any part of you
• You will be in therapy forever and that it will cost a fortune
• Counselling does not work and you will remain stuck in your current situation.
When you come in for counselling, everything shared remains completely confidential. Counsellors are trained to accept fully everyone that comes across them. I am here to help you in your relationship, and have worked with hundreds of couples, and my only goal is to help your relationship thrive. Based on research finding, the model of counselling I work from called Emotionally Focused Therapy, has a 75% success rate to rehabilitate the relationships in only 8-12 sessions entirely, so it is considered a short-term therapy.
Confronting the couples issue(s) in therapy is usually a scary task, which is why I am amazed and inspired by the couples that courageously come in to see me. What is often scarier, is sweeping the problem under the rug. This usually results in the problem continuously coming up in boring conversations that seem to go nowhere, living in a relationship where you feel alone or trapped, or worse, having a cycle that escalates until it climaxes in one or both partners not being able to be in the relationship anymore. The costs of this are so high, with suffering on both sides, and there is never a winner, especially when kids are involved.
The goal of couples counselling is to experience a shift in the dynamic of the relationship from blaming to understanding; from the dance of pursue and withdrawal to reaching vulnerably and being met with compassion and support. Reaching out to your partner in a vulnerable way takes a lot of courage, and together, we work to increase safety on both sides, so that we can truly see and hear what is under the anger, the criticism, the shutting down, the defensiveness and the withdrawing. Through the process of understanding the cycles you currently get lost in and risking to share what is underneath your behaviour that is now pushing your partner’s sore spots, you can have the safety, connection, and love you had always wished.
It has been my pleasure to give you a small taste of couples counselling, and how it goes. I would love to continue writing for Drishti magazine in the future, and welcome any questions you have about couples counselling, or counselling in general so that I can include the answers in future articles. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ofir Vaisman