What is key is having a neutral person who isn't judgemental, doesn't take sides and doesn't give advice but who gets in there alongside you to understand what has happened to your relationship and work out a way forward. To do this work successfully you both need to have confidence and trust in your counsellor and thus feel safe.
Together we focus on the process you currently use to tackle the difficult bits in your relationship. We spot the flaws in the process and work to change it. I am the 'mirror', reflecting back that which I hear and see. It can be challenging - but the issues, whatever they are, can all be worked on if the process can be improved.
Communication is key to that process. I support you in making changes to the way you listen and talk to each other - the words, the tone and the body language. I encourage you not to resort to blame but to be emotionally honest and listen to and accept each other's feelings.
Exploring the relationship / marriage usually involves some work to help you understand why you might have chosen each other in the first place. Also we may take a look at past patterns of behaviour, learnt in childhood or from previous relationships, which can often be unwittingly repeated today.
Importantly, I encourage you to become more reflective about your own part in the relationship. Each of you needs to look at yourself and make changes.
"You cannot change another. You can however change yourself."
I predominantly use three therapeutic approaches to couple counselling:
- psycho-dynamic (looking at how significant figures from the past can influence us today)
- systemic (focusing on how changing one partner's behaviour will change the other's)
- transactional analysis (enabling us to look at our ineffective communication patterns and create better ones).
I attend regular one to one supervision, take part in a couple counsellors' case work group and undertake ongoing professional development courses.
Some reasons why people have sought my help:
I'm having an affair. She knows and wants me to stay. I wish she'd throw me out. I can't end the affair but I can't leave my wife.
He's just retired. We bicker constantly. I'm not sure we like each other anymore.
We've neglected 'us' since the boys were born. We need help to get back on track and improve things.
He works all hours and I get no support with the house and kids. I'm lonely and resentful.
I want to start a family but he can't commit to more children and maybe that means not to me.
All we have in common is our thirteen year old and now she's started criticising me - just like her mother does.