Our personal relationships have a huge impact on our happiness and wellbeing. When we experience relationship problems, the negative effects often spill over into other areas of our lives. Suddenly, we can’t focus at work, have a little less patience with the kids, and don’t enjoy social activities like we normally would.
All intimate relationships experience bumps in the road. If you and your partner are having difficulties that you can’t quite tackle on your own, relationship counselling might help you manage your situation more effectively.
So what exactly is relationship counselling? And when might you consider this option?
Relationship counselling isn’t just for romantic relationships. It can also be helpful for families, or individuals preparing to be in a relationship. In this article, we’ll focus on relationship counselling for couples.
We explore what to expect from relationship or marriage counselling with help from Family and Relationship Counsellor Val Holden.
Why might we need relationship counselling?
People attend relationship counselling for all kinds of reasons. Some common issues couples present with include:
- Relationship conflict
- Family conflict
- Communication issues
- Intimacy issues
- Parenting issues
- Repairing relationship after infidelity
- Preparing to start a family
- Navigating a separation
- Impact of trauma on relationship.
“Clients will often say ‘we used to get on so well, and now all we do is fight. We need help to get back what we used to have,’” Val explains. “We can help clients restore and rebuild their relationships – sometimes to be even stronger than they were before.”
What can we expect from a relationship or marriage counselling session?
“Relationship counselling is a safe place to explore the issues in your relationship that you may be struggling with,” says Val.
Sessions will usually be one hour in duration and can be conducted via phone, video call, or in person.
Here, you’ll be encouraged to discuss your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment. A qualified counsellor will ask questions to understand you and your relationship and help you gain clarity around your situation. They’ll aim to help you identify factors that might contribute to misunderstandings, offer advice and techniques to improve communication, and explore different possibilities and solutions.
Counsellors don’t take sides or make judgements about who is “right” or “wrong”. They don’t tell couples what to do, or try to persuade them to stay together or to separate. They’re just there to help you understand each other better and choose the right outcome yourselves.
What if I’m nervous to speak about issues in front of my partner?
Relationship counsellors are specially trained to help you be honest with yourself and your partner. You’re each gently encouraged to explore your issues and problems in a safe and respectful environment. Many couples find they feel more comfortable opening up to their partner in a counselling session than they would at home.
If you don’t feel comfortable discussing problems with your partner present, you can access counselling on your own, or begin your journey with separate sessions.
“You can request a separate intake, and our counsellors will talk to you about difficulties in your relationship and assess whether you might benefit from joint or separate sessions,” Val explains.
You can learn more about our relationship counselling options and how to book an appointment here.
RAQ also provides specialist counselling services for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex.
For more advice from Family and Relationship Counsellor Val Holden, check out our article How to Fight Fair in a Relationship.