Two Great Reasons To Do CouplesWork

CouplesWork relationship and marriage counselling is for individuals and couples who need to make changes in their present situation. Distress may be caused by difficulties in communication, growing conflict, difficulty with acknowledging or expressing feelings, sexual problems or a range of other factors. This work can help you understand and come to terms with the challenges you are facing in your relationship and help you to work towards your own solutions. Counselling is a positive first step in rebuilding your relationship.

Who Attends Therapy

Conflict over differences.

Relationships and the process dynamics at work in them are very intricate and complicated. There are many layers to each as each person brings their unique histories, values, needs and ideas about what relationships should look like and their own experiences in them. Most of the time these individual realities do not match their partners. These differences do not mean that you are not meant for each other. What they mean is that the relationship may require building strengths in areas that allow it be a safe place for those difference to be understood and to coexist. When partners do not find ways for this to happen it can cause gradual disintegration of communication, destructive defensive positions and eventually, as a coping response, withdrawal and even checking out of the relationship (by at least one of the partners).

Emotional Disconnection

Although many couples tell us that they mostly fight over money, kids, responsibilities or sex they say that the most difficult thing is that they can not communicate. Most often they feel the solution rests in their partner needing to change what they are doing in some way. Beneath what is visible is the significant reality that they both feel emotionally disconnected and isolated. Behind their defences there is the important often unconscious question, “Do I matter?”. Feelings around this question are at the core of most of our distress and most fights. In relationships we are meant to be in the shelter of each other with safety, acceptance and understanding but when our partner is unavailable and distant we can plunge into emotional turmoil and go through emotions such as anger, hurt, sadness and above all fear. In our work we create an environment where a couple can change the way they relate to each other, open up and allow themselves to be more vulnerable again and re-establish their emotional bond.

Extra-marital Affairs

Relatonships often undergo serious injury when an extramarital affair (emotional or physical) occurs. Because the experience is so traumatic the process for recovery can become like steering a ship through the storm. Healing, however, is very possible. Careful guidance in a safe environment is of great importance in this process. Individual responses are very complex as both partners undergo intense internal distress. Couples in this situation require, first and foremost, a secure and safe holding environement to help them contain emotional turmoil and destructive exchanges that charactorize the initial reactions to the discovery of the affair. Special processes are then required to help move through the difficult feelings and the process of healing.

Complexities of Blended Families.

Another distress that couples come to therapy for is the distress inherent in blended family situations. Couples often wish to learn how to navigate the complexities of blended family dynamics as a team. They often want to learn how to provide support and understanding to each other and deal with their different positions in terms of their roles, divided loyalties and parental styles.

Other Distress

Other distresses couples come to therapy for include loss of job, multiple moves, physical injury or illness, family quarrels and addiction, amongst others. No matter the cause, distress in the relationship can create tension, resentment and other problems. Left to fester these can only worsen and eventually lead to various unhealthy styles of coping, withdrawal and even checking out of the relationship. These distresses can also create problems on the job, within the extended family and in friendships.

How Couples Therapy Works and What Are the Benefits?

Our therapy is primarily dyadic in nature. We want couples to interact and relate to each other in a new way outside the therapy sessions. This can be accomplished with the therapist being central to maintaining the couples functional interaction. In therapy when the couple interacts a great deal rather than talking primarily to the therapist the therapist then acts to give the couple a tool that they can us in their relationship and make it their own. We believe that emotional engagement creates much of the corrective experience.

Increased Awareness

Understanding where our problems really exist and how they are occurring is critical to making changes.

Different realities – There is a definite possibility that we have flawed assumptions about our partners motives and they have flawed assumptions about ours. The problem is that most of the time we do not want to believe that those assumptions are flawed.

Different attachment and coping styles – All of us have similar but unique relationship experiences. The manner in which we cope in our existing relationship to a significant extent is how we have learned to cope in the past. That coping style meets our partners coping style when problems arise creating cycles of distress.

Re-establishing connectionBids of connection. Here the couples gain awareness of how they connect with each other and how they miss each others’ calls for connection.

Skills Building

Communication skills – Good communication is much more difficult than most people want to believe. Effective communication is even harder. The process of communication is a touchstone that can create the very kind of responses that change or alter negative and rigid ones to more flexible and open.

Conflict management skillsWe now know that the focus on resolution of conflict is misguided. Gottman’s research showed that the majority of conflict in couples (69%) is perpetual. There is no resolution to these. The goal then becomes to focus on the process of discussing the perpetual issue not solving it.

Creating New Experiences

Experiencing new ways of being together – Self help books do not help. Knowledge is only acquired when it is applied. Otherwise it is just information. In addition to knowledge, awareness and tools, we provide couples with the experience of how it feels for their relationship to work differently. Couples can practice applying new ways of being and experience each other in a new way. Most of the time, after the first experience there is a change because the couple learns that there can be another way of seeing each others’ positions and being with each other. They learn that there is more behind each others’ wall than anger, resentment and spite. There is pain, sadness and most important loneliness and a wish to be connected. Each can finally feel heard, seen and that they matter.