Counselling · Psychotherapy · CBT · Mindfulness · Art Therapy · Compassion
Carbury, Co. Kildare · Tels: 0873977828 / 0862272917
Relationship & Marriage Counselling
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate:
only love can do that"
Martin Luther King Jr.
When should my partner and I seek help?
If you are in a relationship (whether you are a married, living together, or living separately, whether you have children or not, whether you are together for a long time or a short time, whether you are heterosexual, gay or otherwise, or whether you are in an open or closed relationship), and you are looking at this page, it probably means that you are having problems in that relationship and are looking for help. Please feel free to read a little bit about what relationship counselling is about. The free initial consultation is also available for couples and is quite similar to the one described on the 'Free Initial Consultation' tab. During it, you can both ask me any questions you like, we can do an assessment of your individual levels of distress, and get an idea of what you want, as a couple, to get from the sessions. Again, if after the meeting either of you feels this is not the type of service you need, there is no pressure put on you to commit to further appointments. It is important that both of you feel equally comfortable and equally willing to come to the sessions.
In our experience, couples tend to come to counselling for many reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:
- You might be fighting a lot and are not sure why.
- There might be a very specific problem between you that you both know about but cannot move past (i.e., there has been an affair, a break of trust, a problem with addiction, a lack of sexual intimacy, issues with sexual preference or gender identity, a problem with extended family, a disagreement on a specific issue where one parter wants one thing and the other wants the opposite and you cannot agree, etc.).
- Perhaps there has been a breakdown in communication and you don't really talk any more.
- Perhaps the way you communicate with each other has become disrespectful and aggressive.
- Maybe one of you does not feel sexually attracted to the other any more, or you have both lost the attraction towards each other.
- Maybe now that the kids have grown up and left home you don't really know how to relate to each other anymore.
- Maybe one of you is struggling with a specific problem (bereavement, mental health issue, unemployment, etc.) and this is affecting your relationship.
- Perhaps there is an unequal distribution of 'power' in the relationship, where one person feels their needs are being met but the other does not, or one feels they put a lot of effort into the relationship and they feel their partner doesn't.
- There might be issues with parenting, i.e.: you might find your child's (or children's) behavior challenging and cannot agree on how to deal with it.
- You might feel like it is time to go your separate ways but need support with separating in a way that feels healthier, or in a way that minimises the impact your separation will have on your children.
There can be many other reasons, but these are some of the most common ones. If you find that your issue is not on the list above, please do not feel that you must be abnormal in some way as a couple... Plenty of people struggle with all sorts of issues and these stay behind closed doors. We will never judge you or be shocked by anything you say, however uncomfortable you might feel about it.
How does it work?
In relationship therapy, it is essential that your therapist is completely impartial and that they are not siding more with one partner than the other. If one of you ever feels that it is your partner and your therapist against you, then the chances are that not much productive work will be done. The goal is that both of you feel equally heard and supported by your therapist, and that the therapist facilitates you in communicating your needs and feelings to one another, and listening to each others needs, helping you find better ways of relating to one another. Relationship counselling begins with the premise that both partners are adults and that each partner holds 50% of the responsibility for the relationship - and each partner contributes 50% to what is happening in the relationship. We start always from a positive foundation, as when things are tough in a relationship, it can be so easy to forget that there is already some good there! We always begin by acknowledging the things that you both already do that are helpful and positive within the relationship - even the fact that you have both made the effort to come to the session is a really positive joint effort that needs to be valued! Your therapist's job is to support you both to see your own individual input into the relationship (starting with the things you do in the relationship that are helpful and then moving to the unhelpful), and to encourage you to take responsibility for your own actions or lack of actions within the relationship, and also to accept your partner as they are. Also, your therapist's job is to help you communicate with each other in a way that is clear, respectful, caring and free of blame, and taking ownership of your own feelings, so that you can have an open discussion with each other about both of your needs within the relationship.
A small note to consider
The odd time a couple arrive for therapy and quickly we realise that one partner (who might feel like he/she is the victim in some way) has pushed the other (who might be seen as the one to blame for the problem ) to go to therapy, so that 'the one to blame' will somehow be changed by the therapist... it is important to remember here that we cannot change your partner's behaviour, and that any human being can only control his/her own behaviour and no one else's, not even our partner's. In our experience, when one partner is in therapy feeling 'under duress', therapy does not tend to be productive and can be a waste of your valuable time and money. Therapy will ultimately only be of benefit if both parties can see the value of therapy and are both committed to the process. On a positive note, sometimes when this type of situation arises in therapy, through discussing it openly, both parties manage to slightly shift their positions of either blame or over-responsibility, and then therapy can be very productive for both parties!