Couples counselling, also known as marriage guidance, differs from separation and divorce counselling. It aims to resolve issues and improve communication in an intimate relationship. Couples counselling works with both people in the relationship, however sessions can start with one individual, working towards the involvement of the other partner.
In couples counselling, you will carry out most of the work in the sessions, but you will also be issued ‘homework’. In these instances you will be given something to achieve at home, then in your next session you can talk about how it went.
The aim of couples counselling is to:
- Understand how external factors affect your relationship.
- Reflect on the past and how it operates in the present.
- Improve communication.
- Learn why arguments start and then escalate.
- Resolve and negotiate conflicts.
- When a couple feel they cannot continue living together.
- When life changes leave one partner feeling excluded.
- When communication has broken down.
- When despair and bitterness are overwhelming.
- After an affair.
Often this type of counselling is undertaken in response to a crisis, either a letter from the partner’s solicitor, the discovery of an affair or the escalation of an argument. Some time might be needed for the dust to settle to allow the capacity to think about what has happened rather than trying to make sense while one partner is still in shock.
Separation counselling with an experienced and trained couples counsellor can reduce the pressure and stress for both partners. It can be rewarding work as the pressures to repair and patch are removed, allowing an honest and open look at the deterioration of a relationship.
Feel confident to ask your counsellor about their experience in working with separating couples. Specific couple training is preferred alongside membership of a specific couples counseling organization. Some of the traditional couples counselling agencies operate within a religious framework, check out what the orientation is and that it fits with your own beliefs and needs.