Couples counselling is a form of psychotherapy in which couples focus on their relationship. During couples counselling partners will rebuild or strengthen their relationship and resolve any conflicts. Through counselling, couples will be able to make rational decisions with regards to rebuilding their relationship, or realising that there is nothing more that they can do to fix their relationship and that it is time for them to go their own ways.
As the focus of couples counselling is the relationship, it is usually conducted with both partners. However, in some cases it is necessary for each partner to have individual sessions, as well as with group sessions. Couples counselling is usually short term, however, the specific treatment plan will vary from one couple to the next.
Some couples attend couples counselling to simply strengthen their union and better their communication, while others attend to try to selvedge a relationship in turmoil. Some of the issues that couples may seek help with at therapy are financial troubles, sexual difficulties, communication issues, differences about child rearing, and infidelity.
What are the objectives of couples counselling?
While there are a number of benefits to couples counselling, the following is a brief discussion of some of the main objectives of couples counselling.
- Improve communication. Therapy will help couples learn how to effectively communicate with each other in a supportive manner, by teaching partners what kind of communication is constructive and what kind will cause an argument.
- Reduce emotional avoidance. Couples who do not express their private feelings with each other often grow apart due to emotional distance. Therapy will help couples to express themselves to each other effectively, so that they can rebuild their emotional bond.
- Learn to promote the strengths of the relationship. Because much of couples therapy focuses on the negative aspects of a relationship in turmoil, there is a specific focus on promoting the strengths of the relationship to help the couple to develop enjoyment from the relationship.
- Modify dysfunctional behaviour. It is the therapist’s role to make sure that neither partner in the relationship is experiencing physical, emotional or mental harm from the other. If this is the case they may recommend that partners take some time to be apart from each other. The purpose of this is to make sure that couples not only improve their interactions, but also their behaviour with each other.
- Change the perceptions of the relationship. A Counsellor will help couples to view the relationship in a more objective manner so that they can understand why the relationship can change depending on the context for example. By changing the way the couple understands their relationship, they will be able to look at themselves and their interactions in a more nuanced way.
The counselling space is one free of judgement where couples can explore their relationship openly and honestly, with the guidance of their therapist. However, it is important to remember that a therapist is there to enable change and resolution, especially for couples in turmoil, so that through open communication they can reach their own conclusion about their relationship with the support of a professional therapist.