Couples and Marriage Counselling
What is marriage and couples counselling, how does it work and how to find a marriage therapist
Couples counselling, or marriage counselling, helps couples (married or unmarried) to understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationship.
Couples therapy is designed, like individual therapy, to provide a safe and confidential space to explore challenges and to move beyond these to a healthier state of relationship. A couples therapist will ask questions and try to see that both parties have a chance to talk.
The initial sessions are an evaluation period where the therapist begins to formulate (come up with an greater understanding) of the couples difficulties. They will work to understand what has brought you to counselling, how therapy can best help your relationship, and what your expectations are. It will include asking your history as a couple, how long any problems have existed and what you might hope to learn from couples therapy.
Often people find talking therapeutic in its own right but after the first few sessions a couples therapist will be able to provide more guided steering and begin to actively help you to work towards managing your issues. Your following sessions will see your couples therapist helping you with your issues, such as:
Improving open communication
Recognising behavioural patterns
Understanding your feelings and actions
Seeing each others' perspectives
Managing expectations within the relationship
Finding useful ways of compromise that work for both parties
Finding new ways to move forward
Can marriage counselling really save a relationship?
Timing is everything. Unfortunately, lots of couples wait too long to get help to repair their relationship. Marriage counselling is hard work and there are no guarantees. But marriage and long term relationships are deep personal investments that can bring a huge amount of positives to your life when they are working healthily for both partners. For this reason, many couples invest the time needed to work through their problems in therapy together.
The effectiveness of marriage counselling is also related to the motivation level of both partners and timing. For some couples, marriage counselling may become more about divorce management, because they have already given up on try to make the relationship work. Sometimes, the problems in a marriage can be too embedded for the counselling to be effective. In some situations, couples don’t honestly share their concerns, hampering the results of the therapy.
Some of the ways that couples therapy can work include identifying toxic relationship patterns and helping couples to work on changing these, bringing a new perspective to issues and helping couples to understand each other’s perspectives, finding new ways to resolve conflicts, building trust and improving communication, and providing a safe space for both partners to work through their issues with the support of the empathetic ear of a professional therapist.
How do you know if you need marriage counselling?
You might be finding it difficult to understand your partner lately or perhaps you are missing the closeness you once had. Maybe you struggle to agree on anything together or an affair has put your future together in jeopardy. Money, sex, housework, parenting and family issues are also some of the typical concerns that bring couples to therapy. Some signs that someone is experiencing a relationship difficulty include being pressurised, feelings of being very stuck, a restricted social life, anxiety and depression. Usually couples have reached a point where they are considering ending the relationship and marriage counselling is an attempt at saving it. On some occasions couples are looking to enhance their communication and deepen their understanding of each other in general.
A list of reasons to go to couples counselling might include:
Life changes, such as retirement
Losing a job
Physical or mental conditions
Same-sex relationship issues
Wider family issues
Conflicts about child rearing
How long does marriage counselling last?
Marriage counselling can be short term. It depends on how long the issues have been going on and what problems you feel you need to overcome. If you are going through a specific crisis, you may only need a few sessions to help you manage the situation. However, you may need marriage counselling for several weeks or months. Every counselling relationship is unique because it depends on the individual or couples taking part and the issues that need to be worked through. When meeting your couples therapist, it would be helpful to discuss how they think they could help you, their style of working and what you could expect to cover in the course of your therapy.
How can marriage counselling help?
Some of the benefits of couples counselling include:
Coping with changes
Managing conflict in a healthier way
Improving physical and sexual connection
Recognising abusive relationships.
The ultimate goal is to work towards a more successful relationship.
How to find a good marriage therapist or couples counsellor
In the UK, although it is not illegal for anyone to call themselves a marriage counsellor or therapist, licensed psychotherapists and counsellors will have studied at postgraduate level for a number of years and undertaken hundreds of hours of practical, supervised work in order to qualify as therapists.
Many couples therapists will have done specific courses or specialised training in addition to their initial studies to work with couples specifically. It is important to choose a therapist who has experience working with couples and who is a good fit for both you and your partner. You can find out more about choosing the right couples therapist here.
At Prohealth Therapy, we vet our couples therapists to ensure that they are registered and insured to practice as a therapist in the UK. We check that they are registered members of UK professional bodies, to ensure that all of our therapists have completed the professional training necessary to work as a licensed practitioner.
Existential Psychotherapy aims to help relieve the anxieties and worries surrounding the bigger questions we may have.
We can often find ourselves facing difficult questions in our lives that lead to great anxiety. We may wonder, "Who am I?" or "Should I seek out something more important in life?" Existential Psychotherapy aims to help relieve the anxieties and worries surrounding the bigger questions we may have. This form of talking therapy can help you regain a sense of calm and develop confidence when making the decisions that are right for you.
What is Existential Psychotherapy?
Existential Psychotherapy acknowledges that our sense of purpose and meaning in life has great influence over our sense of well being. Depression and anxieties can often be linked with confusion or doubt surrounding our purpose and meaning.
Unlike other talking therapies, Existential Psychotherapy does not place sole focus on an individual's life history and psyche. Instead, it encourages individuals to examine the human condition as a whole and their place within it. Knowledge from philosophy is drawn upon to achieve this.
This approach can help individuals discover a sense of clarity about themselves, including their core beliefs and values, their journey to their present self, and the journeys they are heading towards in life. This can help you feel connected to both yourself and others around you while also helping you lead a life that inspires you.
How does Existential Psychotherapy work?
While Existential Psychotherapy utilities knowledge gathered from philosophy, it should not be viewed as 'wishful thinking.' Asking well thought philosophical questions of yourself can help individuals gain a greater understanding of themselves and live a more fulfilling life.As existential thought is a vast field, Existential Psychotherapy has developed a number of different movements and branches of thought. While some psychotherapists will approach Existential Psychotherapy differently to others, there are some main concepts of Existential Psychotherapy that many may choose to explore:
Understanding the 'bigger picture' of our lives can lead to contentment. Examining our thinking is not enough when it comes to finding a sense of contentment in life. Instead, we can ask philosophical questions and find answers to help us feel comfortable within our lives. Anxieties often arise when we are faced with 'existential givens.'
Existential psychotherapist Irvin Yalom identified four 'existential givens' that can arise in life: isolation, meaninglessness, freedom, and death/mortality. Yalom believed that human existence involves the inevitably of having to face these 'existential givens' at points in life, causing anxieties and mental distress if we do not learn to accept them and make careful decisions when up against them.
Meaning is found in all situations.
Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl suggested that all situations in life contain meaning. If we cannot find meaning in a situation, he believed, then we have yet to discover its true meaning. Individual purpose and meaning is the key to well being.
Understanding what matters most to ourselves as individuals, outside of the influence of others and the society in which we live, may offer a sense of inner peace and clarity. This can help answer bigger questions, such as: "What beliefs are essential to you?" or "What would you like to say you have achieved when looking back at the end of your life?"
We are all alone.
While we spend our lives forming connections with others, true validation is often sourced from within ourselves. This view point suggests that we are alone in our individual journeys towards contentment, which can feel like an anxious prospect for some. Responsibility, freedom, and acceptance can push us forward.
It is important that we come to accept that we will inevitably face challenges in life. Often our choices dictate the path our lives may take, and recognition of this can help us to achieve freedom of choice to make the best decisions in life.
Individual definitions of reality are influenced by different connecting levels.
We can encounter the world through different interlinked 'dimensions' of existence: psychological, social, physical, and spiritual. Each of us holds fears and aspirations within these dimensions, prompting us to question them in order to understand ourselves and the world around us.
Who can benefit from Existential Psychotherapy?
Existential Psychotherapy can benefit individuals experiencing an identity crisis or those who feel they lack an identity. Individuals finding it difficult to focus and move forward in life may also find Existential Psychotherapy helpful, as would those experiencing self-sabotage and patterns of poor decision making.
It can also be used as a tool to treat a number of psychological conditions and emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low self-esteem, addiction, loneliness, obsessive thoughts, and relationship difficulties.
What results can be expected from Existential Psychotherapy?
Existential Psychotherapy can help individuals better understand the personal challenges they may face in life and develop the ability to recognise their own power to change. It may also provide individuals with renewed confidence in their decision making skills and help them feel less overwhelmed by life's questions and challenges. This form of therapy can also help build self-awareness and uncover paths to be taken forward.