What can you expect from couple counselling and what do you look for when meeting a couple counsellor? These are important questions to consider when you take your relationship to another person for a check up.

What partners expect from couple counselling is an important consideration. Many people want you to agree with them and point out to the other person what an absolute bastard they are. It is not like that. Couples counseling enables you to have a safe professional place where you can discuss the things that need addressing.

The counsellor will provide a safe place and guide you through a process – a process where you can see the good things about your relationship as well as the unproductive bits. It is so easy just to concentrate on the negative aspects of the relationship and to forget things like companionship and the positive physical elements of day-to-day domestic life.

Then there is the counsellor. Of course you need to have confidence in the counsellor to listen and provide a non-judgment view of your life situation. They need to be qualified to counsel and be a member of a professional organisation with a defined set of ethics. Empathy is also a must as is unconditional positive regard for both of you.

Good counselling is also not about giving advice. Counsellors can give information that might help but generally giving advice in not empowering to anyone except the counsellor. Hopefully the counsellor will be a client-centred practitioner. And by that I mean entering your head to see how you view the world. Then entering the other person’s head and then presenting a reflection to you both of you on what is happening and being experienced by all. Hopefully by externalising matters and concerns partners can then be objective about what does not work and what each person is really saying they need.

Couples in long-term relationships develop a system they live in. Sometimes the system needs changing, more than the partners. Place a man in a desert and he will act in negative way, place him under a waterfall with lush surroundings and he will be a totally different person.

Couple counselling can provide you with a place to see the relationship in a new light without wanting or requiring the other to change by blaming. If the other sees the need to change well so be it. In the end you can really only change yourself or your perceptions. Having a client-centred counsellor who comes on the journey with you rather than just giving advice is the one you will get most benefit from.

Couple Counselling works well when both parties are willing to take the adventure to listen to each other without being defensive and view the system that has developed as an external element that can be objectively looked at and challenge. Take care my lovelies.

INFO: Gerry North is a gay couples counsellor and can be contacted at gaycounselling.vpweb.com.au or email [email protected]

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