Relationship / Couple Counselling
Are you unhappy in your relationship? Would you like to communicate more effectively with your partner? Do you need support to end a dysfunctional relationship, or help to explore options for change and reasons to stay? Have you already separated from your partner but want to improve co-operation in the best interests of your children? Are you scared of making the commitment that your partner desires? There are many reasons for seeking relationship counselling, and very often partners can't even agree on why they have made the decision to come!
It is often difficult to commit to relationship counselling. People are afraid that their voices will not be heard, that they will be blamed or shamed, that the same old arguments will be endlessly repeated, or that the counsellor may 'take sides', leaving them feeling isolated. Very often one partner wants to come to counselling, and the other doesn't, or it is difficult for both partners to attend at the same time because of childcare or work commitments. I hope to show you that it really doesn't have to be like this.
The focus of our sessions will be primarily on what you would both like to see different in your lives, either as a couple or as separated individuals. We will identify where these best hopes converge, and consider the most effective ways of managing the areas you cannot agree on. There is no right or wrong, and both of you will have an equal opportunity to feel heard and taken seriously. My aim is to create an environment where you both feel safe enough to speak freely and honestly. Couples very often report that they had no idea that their partner thought or felt 'like that' because they had not previously been open to hearing them.
I have worked for many years with families in all sorts of difficult circumstances, and it is my firm belief that almost all parents want the very best for their children. They want to create a nurturing environment where their children feel unconditionally loved, fully known and appreciated, safe, secure and valued. Almost all children and young people want to feel happy and relaxed at home, able to be themselves, encouraged to develop skills and independence, and be taken seriously as unique individuals with potential. This is, of course, very hard to achieve consistently. Family life can easily become dominated by competing expectations, unwelcome behaviours, concerns about mental health and well-being, and breakdowns in communication.
Given that almost everyone ultimately wants and benefits from a' happy family life', a good place to start counselling is to explore what every family member means by this. Very often there are some surprises, and the desired changes are much smaller and easier to achieve than you might imagine. By focusing on the future and how your family might function in a way that suits you all better, there are fewer opportunities for blaming, shaming and repeating unhelpful patterns of communication. Family counselling can help you find ways to collaborate as a family, providing opportunities for you to connect with each other and act together.
You can decide for yourselves which family members should attend sessions, and this may vary from one week to the next. Changes made in one part of the family will inevitably have an impact on another part, so it is not necessary for everyone to attend every session. We can discuss this before you start if you are unsure about how to involve family members who are unable or unwilling to attend.