What is Couples Counselling?
Couples Counselling is a form of counselling that can help you and your partner greatly improve your relationship. If you are having relationship difficulties, you can seek couples therapy to help heal and rebuild your relationship.
Couples Counselling can address a wide range of relationship issues, including ongoing conflicts, communication challenges, feelings of disconnection, larger family dynamics, or difficulties due to external stressors.
Basically, a relationship is the sum of its two parts. A fusion of two minds. Of two sets of beliefs and worldviews, two sets of fears and desires, two sets of preferences and aversions, two sets of traumas and pains, two sets of behaviours and patterns, defense mechanisms, strategies to feel safe, communication styles, and more.
Learning to navigate this fusion successfully often requires both partners to heal their individual pasts and also learn the skills, frameworks, and tools that allow both to show up with clarity, compassion, open hearts, and open minds.
How are couples counselling sessions normally conducted?
Couples counselling typically involves exploring specific topics of concern to a couple, building communication skills, and rebuilding the bonds of attachment that had originally been lost.
This typically involves the counsellor providing a stable and safe space for the couple to have difficult conversations without things going off the rails, and with active guidance to break stuck communication patterns and pitfalls.
Couples counselling often involves training in new communication approaches and styles, and homework that assigned to the couple to respark bonds that have been damaged.
How is our approach to couples counselling different?
Our approach goes deeper than simply working through individual issues and skill-building.
Our expertise in hypnotherapy allows us to go deep to the root cause of each partner's patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour, and to open up avenues for resolving issues at their root.
Our approach to couples therapy is a dance between sessions with both parties together, and healing work with each individual. The more we can move each individual to being healthy, healed and whole, the more naturally relationship issues dissolve away. Healing the individuals and the relationship at the same time is a win-win for everyone.
Why we do Individual Sessions Before Our Couples’ Sessions
We have structured our Relationship Success package to begin with an individual session with each partner before moving on to the couples’ sessions.
You don't come to a relationship as a blank slate.
Rather, you bring our entire past with you -- your history, family dynamics, ideas, beliefs, values, preferences, traumas and defense mechanisms.
The individual sessions allow us to gain a clear understanding of your experience of the relationship, and of what is going on within you that is contributing to the strong feelings, or lack of connection and fulfillment, that you may be experiencing.
Having this insight prior to a couples' session allows us to hit the ground running with a fuller picture of all factors at play in the dynamics of the relationship, better allowing us to bridge gaps in understanding, communication, and to elicit the empathy and compassion for one another that naturally results.
The individual sessions also allow us to create a kind of inventory of outstanding mental and emotional content that can be worked on at an individual therapy level, should the partner choose to pursue that.
How the Couples’ Sessions are Structured
Each couples’ session is customized in-the-moment to address what is emerging most strongly in your relationship.
At times we will help a partner articulate their feelings that perhaps they had not previously had the vocabulary or emotional courage to express.
We also help elicit understanding and compassion between partners by tying in a partner’s way of being to their personal history. A partner’s behaviours taken at face value can seem illogical, confusing, even annoying, frustrating and infuriating. But when you are able to place those behaviours in the context of one’s past history, you are often able to see that the behaviour is not a conscious choice, but rather a response to one’s upbringing — be it from passive mimicry of parents, survival strategies developed in childhood due to unsafe conditions in the home, school or wider world, or an adaptation to a trauma or stressful condition experienced in the past.
When you can understand that your partner’s behaviour is a result of pain from their past, you can begin to dissolve your judgments about them and return to the big love that you once had. With the kindness that comes from understanding and compassion, safety and trust can be re-established in the relationship, opening the door to deeper and more honest and productive conversations. You and your partner can begin to work as a team, once again.
Sessions May Involve Homework
We usually wrap up each couples’ session with some takeaway homework to practice in the days leading up to the next session.
The homework is designed to implement the learning in day-to-day life so that this aspect of growth begins to be integrated into the relationship in a permanent way.
Homework can involve new ways of communicating with each other, activities to engage in together, new sharing of tasks in the home, new boundaries to put into practice, new self-care routines, and much much more.
We’ve all been to school, and not many of us enjoyed being “assigned” homework. And so the homework we engage in is never “assigned”, but rather agreed upon through discussion and consensus.
Only when both of you agree that a piece of homework is likely to be helpful and productive do we all agree to move forward with it. This approach is important to ensure buy-in from both partners, and is a recipe for successful results.
Couples’ Counselling May also Involve Individual Counselling or Hypnotherapy
Sometimes understanding, compassion and skillfulness are not enough.
Content often emerges in couples’ sessions that highlights the opportunity, or need, to do individual healing work to dissolve the emotional pain that lies at the root of the behaviours that may be causing problems in the relationship.
When you love your partner, you should want to be the best version of yourself for them. And when you love yourself, you should want the same for yourself.
The Best Way for You to Approach Couples’ Counselling
The best attitude to approaching couples therapy is one of courage, curiosity, and a desire to feel in love once again. Couples therapy can be an important ingredient for the growth and evolution of a relationship. As an individual, you don’t stop growing and evolving once you get into a relationship — that process continues.
The key is to ensure that you aren't growing apart, but rather that you're growing together. Couples Counselling is the best way to reconnect across a space that has opened up between two people. Reconnecting to understanding each other once again with safety, kindness and gentleness can restore that bond and renew the relationship.
We always recommend that, instead of coming to the work like a client or patient, plan to come in like a student. Come to this experience ready to learn about yourself, each other, others outside your relationship, and also the world and your place in it. Come in ready to learn how to let go, heal, transform, and grow.
Couples’ Counselling Helps You Deepen and Mature Your Relationship
The concept of maturing is also important here. You don’t stop maturing when you become an adult. It's an ongoing process throughout your lifetime. Ideally, you continuously learn, grow and evolve. And as you mature as a person, your relationships also naturally mature. Without understanding the maturation process, changes over time can be scary or cause you to want to avoid change.
But with a little help, you can experience growth and evolution as a natural, organic, and easy process that can be leaned into, and that with the right perspectives and tools. And you can steer the healthy unfolding of that evolution together with your partner into an ever-deepening and ever-more-satisfying relationship.