Couples and Relationship Counselling
I am always in awe when I see a couple come into my office. It takes real courage to take the risk to go to a complete stranger to talk about an area of your life which is so incredibly important to you and where you feel so vulnerable. It shows how much you value your relationship.
Feelings that feed your distress
If you are feeling stuck in your relationship, you may be feeling a combination of the following:
Lonely, Sad, Angry, Needy, Frustrated, Guilty, Irritated, Overwhelmed, Hopeless, as well as, Hurt, Afraid, Ashamed or Fearful.
Your distress may have been going on for a long time. You may be feeling pretty desperate… And maybe a little cynical, or distrustful that improvements in your relationship are possible.
The love we yearn for – the basic human need for connection
We are bombarded with unreal images of love from the moment we are shown fairy tales as young children, or watch Disney movies. Relationships of media personalities are followed in depth everywhere we turn, encouraging many of us to aspire to the drama and gloss of these high profile, unrealistic expectations. The urge to compare our relationship to others creates dissatisfaction. When we are distressed in our relationship it feels like we are alone, while everyone else is harmoniously united.
So what do we really yearn for? I believe it is to be seen by our partner… really seen, accepted and understood. And we need to feel safe… safe, connected and supported; knowing they have our back, and are in our corner. Knowing that if we reach for them, they will emotionally respond. Pretty much the same as the needs we had as children from a loving parent. But maybe we didn’t get that loving attachment as children, or we have difficulty with letting our partner close, or feel we need to fight to get the attention and love we need.
Concerns about coming to counselling
Common concerns of clients coming to couples counselling are that they will be blamed, judged, forced to change or shamed. Often one partner is the instigator of therapy. Which means one partner likely feels under duress. Please understand that all of these concerns are normal.
I see my work as supporting you both as an ally and coach… A relationship facilitator. The work is collaborative. I show you the steps, and we work together to change the dance you are caught in, within your relationship.
Recognising your dance
All couples create their own dance together. When couples come to see me it is because the current dance steps (patterns of thoughts and behaviour) are at times causing disconnection and distress in the relationship. The music (emotional reactions) needs to change so that a new dance of connection and intimacy can be choreographed. And that is what we work on.
My role is to help you change the music so you can understand deeply your own and your partner’s emotional experiences, as well as the behaviour patterns you both use when you feel overwhelmed and dis-connected. When you both understand the patterns that keep you stuck, and are able to instead turn toward your partner when either or both of you are hurt, stuck or in distress, the music has started to change, allowing you to be more attuned to each other; facilitating the intimate and supportive connection you crave.
With couples, I focus on counselling called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), created by Sue Johnson. The initial book or audio I suggest for couples is Hold Me Tight, which gives an understanding of some of the distress couples like you may be experiencing, and the process of EFT to enable you to move forward.
For more information on EFT by Sue Johnson, take a look at her 15 minute YouTube video.
or a video introduction to Hold Me Tight