Southside Counselling & Therapy Centre,
3 Carment Drive,
Glasgow G41 3PP

What is Couples counselling?

Couples counselling requires a distinctive approach because there are three people in the room, two of whom have their own understanding of the situation and their own perception of what needs to happen to change things.

I have undertaken advanced training in couples counselling and will use the skills and experience I have developed to help each individual in the relationship feel that they are heard and understood. I will encourage the couple to establish their own needs in order to feel safe, and to set boundaries in order to create a safe and non-judgemental space. I believe this is the first step towards their gaining an understanding of each other’s therapeutic needs. I will remain impartial throughout the counselling process and will offer empathic tracking for reflection. When someone feels understood, this reduces their need to be defensive and makes them more open to honestly addressing any issues. It also serves to reduce any possible conflict in the room.

If necessary, I will take a more directive approach towards couples counselling so as to maintain an equal balance. An incredibly angry or talkative person can easily dominate the session and prevent a calmer or quieter person from being heard. It may also be helpful to manage the apportionment of time during counselling sessions, so that each individual has the chance to speak and be heard. As the counselling process progresses, I would hope to move to a more free-flowing method once an equal flow has been established.

This also serves to improve the couple’s communication outside counselling. When a relationship encounters difficulties and counselling is sought, a couple has lost the ability to communicate in a way that leads to solutions. Part of my role is to help the couple communicate with each other and teach them creative techniques to support this.

I will shift the focus from the individual and their needs and problems, to the couple’s relationship. The focus should be on the difficulty between the two people in the relationship and their reason(s) for seeking help. The problems couples bring to counselling are often deep-seated, and couples counselling provides an opportunity for them to understand more about their relationship and find a deeper connection. I will also gain an understanding of the dynamics in the relationship, enabling me to help the couple begin to hear each other again as their defensive barriers recede.

Once communication has improved, it is often useful to understand the deeper psychological issues within the relationship. There may be complex influences from the past which affect the way individuals act within relationships.

Alongside this, strong feelings often indicate a past, unfulfilled need within a person, which they are trying to get their partner to satisfy. I will be aware of these influences and can help people to understand them. It can often be useful for the individuals in the relationship to undertake counselling separately if such issues come to the surface.

Interestingly, when an individual displays a strong reaction against couples counselling, this can indicate that they are unwilling to tolerate any view other than their own. People who act in a bullying manner within their relationship, or who have issues with power and control, can find a balanced session very intimidating because suddenly their partner has a right to express his or her own opinions. To the person who has been behaving in a bullying way, this can feel threatening and seem as though the session is biased against them. It can often be useful to explore the deeper meaning of such behaviour. However, for counselling to be successful, it is imperative that both individuals are willing to engage in the process.

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How counselling can help

Couples counselling can help you to:

  • Reflect on what your relationship means to you as individuals and as a couple
  • Explore what your needs are as individuals and as a couple
  • Work together to reduce conflict and improve communication as a couple
  • Be more creative in resolving conflict
  • Improve your sense of value and feel valued in your relationship
  • Feel heard and understood
  • Understand what is important in making your relationship grow
  • Understand individual negative habits in the relationship
  • Feel heard and understood
  • Understand what is important in making your relationship grow
  • Understand individual negative habits in the relationship
  • Understand the other individual’s negative habits, which often reduces defensive behaviour
  • Understand the importance of working at your relationship and making quality time for each other
  • Resolve past and present pain or resentment caused in the relationship
  • Explore past and present pain or resentment surrounding infidelity and options for moving forward
  • Reflect as a couple in order to understand and accept each other’s perspective on possible infertility problems or explore ways forward with infertility
  • Explore issues surrounding intimacy and reflect on reconnecting
  • Reflect as a couple on whether you want to stay in the relationship and, if not, find mutual ways to separate