There’s no simple answer to knowing how to recognise when its time to start counselling as a couple but we often get a sense that things have reached a stalemate and problems can no longer be dealt with at home together.
Perhaps you and your partner are arguing about the silliest things and these rows quickly escalate. Or your relationship feels stale, and if the two of you were not so busy leading separate lives you feel you would die of boredom. Sometimes there is a big issue - such as money, sex, infidelity, in-laws or children - about which you cannot get your partner to understand your viewpoint.
Beginning any form of counselling is daunting, and in my experience people find it harder to start couple counselling than individual therapy. If you can get over the hump of entering relationship therapy, the rewards are often much greater than those of individual counselling. In many cases, couples get an immediate short-term boost. This is partly down to a sense of relief that something is finally being done, but mainly because our partner agreeing to counselling is concrete proof that they care.
How it works: Couple counselling often needs fewer sessions than one-to-one work. I work to six one hour sessions with regular reviews where together we assess progress.
This particular type of counselling tends to work with the immediate problem/s, although the past is used to illuminate the present. The primary focus in my practice with couples counselling is the relationship. I offer both of you equal time, attention and understanding as you are both equally important to the relationship.
Personally, I'm always interested in what makes a couple seek help right now, as opposed to in the months or years during which the problems have been building. I also like to hear each partner's individual perspective. I like to put the couple's "presenting" problems - what they have come to me specifically to discuss - into the context of the whole relationship.
The aim is for couples to discover they can do this work on their own, that their communication has improved and it's time to end counselling. Most people leave having not only learned a lot about their partner and their relationship, but about themselves, too.