What to expect in couples counselling or marriage guidance
Answering your questions about marriage counselling
In couple counselling - marriage guidance counselling, relationship counselling or pre-marriage counselling, the counsellor aims to give you both equal time and attention. This will help you each to get your side of the story across, without interruptions or rows.
Marriage counselling or relationship counselling can be very helpful even if your partner doesn't want to go. The counsellor will be able to help you without judging either one of you and remaining aware of 'the empty seat'.
This page will help you get a better insight into what exactly happens in couple counselling.
Not at all keen on couples counselling? Read on...
Alternatives to visiting a couple counsellor
I know there are lots of reasons why people don't like the idea of counselling - let alone couple counselling. However, you can turn the tide all by yourself if your partner seems to have lost the will to work on your relationship.
The best resource I can recommend for you - whether or not your partner is willing to help to make things better - is Save My Relationship/Marriage by Lee Baucom, PhD. As you'll see, Lee has no regard for badly trained couple counsellors!
Doubtful about the quality of couple counselling?
I do agree that an awful lot of counsellors 'dabble' in couple counselling. They think that they can do the job based on their training in counselling individuals. WRONG! Couple counselling is very different!
Learn how to find a good (relationship) counsellor.
Assuming you have found the right counsellor, here's what marriage or couples counselling can do for you...
15 ways that marriage guidance or pre-marriage counselling can help
Marriage or couples counselling can help you decide what the future might hold for each one of you, and for you as a couple. In marriage counselling you're encouraged and supported to:
- explain your hopes, dreams and concerns
- understand each other better - one of the greatest benefits of couple counselling
- manage differences of opinion
- improve relationship communication
- explore whether there's still hope, or whether to end the relationship
- learn problem solving strategies
- identify your wants and needs
- identify what works well in your relationship or marriage - there are always things that are going well!
- process and move on from the disappointments, hurts and anger
- identify your personal innate and acquired resources
- identify your resources as a couple
- explore the potential impact of a breakup - positive and negative
- cope with and manage you losses if it's your decision to separate
- come to terms with, heal and move on when dealing with infidelity
- get to know yourself better and each other better
A couple counsellor knows that often one of the partners is coming along reluctantly for relationship or marriage counselling. A good counsellor will make every effort to help that person feel at ease.
Of course a partner may also be reluctant if he or she is having an affair. Naturally they'll fear being found out. An experienced couples counsellor will sense when there's information missing... but won't be able to read minds!
What shouldn't you expect?
There are several key things that you shouldn't expect from couple counselling. Hop over to Part 2 about couples therapy to have a look at these, and also to find out what to do if your partner isn't keen on the idea of counselling.
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