Most couples disagree or argue at some point throughout their relationship. Arguing is not pleasant but in a healthy relationship those differences are often overcome and both people ‘move on’ and deal with the source of conflict. However, for some couples it can get to the point where one or both of you feels it is straining your relationship.
The thought of couples or marriage counselling is a daunting concept for some people. Your partner, husband or wife may have suggested it, but you’re just not sure you want to do it. You know that you have been arguing a lot more recently and neither of you is happy, but is couples counselling the answer?
There are a number of misconceptions and myths about couples counselling and marriage counselling. Here are some of the common myths that people may believe about seeking help for relationship problems.
Myth: Counsellors take sides
Fact: Counsellors are trained to remain neutral
We may fear that the counsellor will take a side. You may feel particularly vulnerable if your partner is more expressive and has no trouble opening up to the counsellor about how they feel. The fact is, counsellors are trained to remain neutral. If one partner finds it harder to talk than the other, the counsellor will find ways to help both people communicate better. The counsellor will not assume that the quieter person’s point of view is less important or that they don’t have one.
Myth: Counsellors have a fixed goal
Fact: Counsellors help you as a couple understand your goals
A counsellor will not have a fixed idea about the goal of counselling. A good counsellor will assist you as a couple to understand your goals and feelings. It is not necessarily about keeping you together at all costs. If you are clear that your wish is to stay together, the counsellor will work with you to improve your relationship. If you decide that you need to separate, they will respect this choice and support you.
Myth: You and your counsellor won’t click
Fact: Counsellors are highly skilled (but you may still come across one that doesn’t suit)
You may have heard a bad story about a counsellor from a friend and that may put you off going to couples counselling. Although professional counsellors are highly skilled and well-trained, you may come across a counsellor that is not suiting you. For the counselling to be effective, it is important that you ‘click’ with your counsellor. If for whatever reason you feel that the counselling process is not working for you, and you have fed that back to the counsellor and nothing has changed, then you are entitled to look for another counsellor. By comparison, if a tradie did a bad job on your house, you would seek someone else. You wouldn’t assume that the house can’t be fixed.
Myth: Couples counselling is the only option for your relationship
Fact: Individual counselling could be an option
If you are still concerned about couples counselling, individual counselling may be an option. Although this is focusing on one person, it can still help to improve your relationship if it assists you to communicate better. This can be a first step or as an alternative.
The fact is, couples counselling is very unlikely to cause any harm in your relationship and is far more likely to improve it.
Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online social and mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.