Does Relationship Therapy Work?

How Relationship Therapy Could Work For You

Cartoon of Couple holding hands

Bringing the Colour Back into Your Relationship

We are often asked this question. We believe that if an individual or couple are prepared to work hard to achieve their goals then anything is possible. Therapy can be a very challenging process since we are facing issues that we may not have wanted to address before. They may be too painful or are so deeply buried we avoid them.

Relationship Therapy provides a safe place for a couple or individual to explore these issues without fear: fear of reprisal, fear of being unable to say what we really mean or think, fear of the anxiety that bruising our partner’s ego may bring. When we are set free we can think clearly about our boundaries. What we will or will not accept. Then we can learn how we can communicate this in a way that can be received without blame, attack or withdrawal.

Your therapist will work with your goals and those of your partner so that you have a vision of the future, that it can be mapped out and that it can be possible. However therapists work with reality, this is not cloud cuckoo land. They work with what is realistic, achievable, repeatable and consistent. They will help you communicate effectively with each other so that your needs and wants and those of your partner are clear in a climate of reciprocity, mutuality, compassion and kindness.

When you first went into your relationship with a partner you may have had expectations of what it would be like which now seem a distant memory. So one of the difficulties is that couples sometimes have a different idea of what those expectations are. One may want the romantic, close bond and produce a family and love ever after. The other perhaps hasn’t even thought about children and finds intimacy and closeness too much to handle. This is a common situation that brings couples or individuals to relationship therapy.

The therapist works to find common ground, looks at the traits and ways of being of each of the partner, their thinking styles, hidden “rules” that govern the relationship and the outside influences that threaten the relationship. It is then a matter of looking for the possibility of change and where that is not possible, acceptance of where you are.

Many times a couple in therapy both think it’s their partner who needs to change, or when one person wants help to end the relationship but the other wants to stay together. It is not rocket science therefore that it takes two people to make a relationship work and, at the same time, it takes two people who are willing to cooperate to make a separation amicable and easy for their children.

During the first session, the therapist starts to explore whether it is possible that the relationship can get back on track. We view these struggles as growth opportunities and not necessarily the end of the line although this assumes the couple have not left it so late before attending therapy that separation may be the only way forward. Either way, therapy supports and encourages the couple to find solutions.

So that the couple is:

  • Able to identify what the problem is
  • Able to see the other’s point of view
  • Able to communicate their view effectively without blame or defence
  • Able to see where and what change is possible
  • Able to look for resolution, not conflict

The Mary Clegg Clinic is there not just for couples who want to improve their relationship, but also for those who want help in ending it. And counselling can be especially beneficial for separating couples with children who want to ensure they’re breaking up in a way that won’t mean the family breaks down. They can work to ensure that any children are not caught up in the misery that the breakdown brings.

When Should you go to Counselling?

We are in no doubt that the sooner you seek help the better. Many couples have endured an unhappy relationship for years before seeking help. The more entrenched a situation the harder it is to see the wood for the trees. The Clinic has a deserved reputation for turning people’s lives around but we cannot do anything unless both partners are willing and able to put in the work. Many of our ex-clients come back for MOT’s once a year to keep it on track!

If you’re experiencing any of the following it may be worth considering Relationship Therapy:

  • When you talk to your partner, it feels like you’re hitting a brick wall
  • Your conversations just go round and round in never-ending circles
  • After you’ve talked, you feel frustrated and confused
  • You can’t talk for more than a few minutes without it turning into a shouting match
  • You’re afraid that if you bring up a certain subject, things will get even worse
  • There’s nothing left to say

Who Should go for Relationship Counselling?

Ideally, both of you. It’s hard to build a team if only half of the players are there. If one person makes the decision to give counselling a try, often their partner decides to go as well. But if your partner flatly refuses to join you, there are still a lot of things you can sort out on your own. Some people prefer to have therapy alone at first to work out their feelings and then see a separate counsellor as a couple.

Ultimately, it’s hard to measure if Relationship Therapy works, because the phrase ‘works’ means different things to different people. For some people, therapy can transform their relationships and their lives; for others, it helps them solve a specific problem and move forward with more confidence and less anxiety.

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