Making the most of relationship counselling

Relationship counselling doesn’t have to be disaster management, and may even be more useful when it’s used to strengthen the foundations of your relationship before things get out of hand.

It might seem like relationship counselling is only for couples who are in serious trouble, but couples who seek it out sooner rather than later are more likely to feel the benefits.

A study into the effectiveness of relationship counselling found that those who entered into counselling early on when their issues were still manageable were more likely to have positive results [1]. This echoes what we already know getting help before things get out of hand.

Around three quarters of the couples in the study experienced benefits to seeing a counsellor. In the cases where it felt less helpful, it was often because the issues were already too deeply entrenched to be resolved – particularly in cases of domestic violence, or where one partner was seeking a safe space to end the relationship.

How to make the most of relationship counselling


If you’re considering relationship counselling, you’re most likely to get things running smoothly again if you start as soon as possible.

But, if you’ve gone into counselling when things are already difficult, you can still see an improvement, as long as you approach it with the right attitude. Bear the following in mind as you go into each section:

  • The sessions are as much about listening and learning as about getting your own point across and being heard.
  • You’ll need to look at things from your partner’s point of view to fully understand what’s going on.
  • You’re more likely to solve problems by reflecting on your own behaviour, than criticising your partner’s.

So, if you’re finding that conflict is difficult to resolve on your own, go and get some help while the issue is still small. Keep an eye out for warning signs and don’t be afraid to seek help with your relationship. Often, people can worry that going to a counsellor means they are in big trouble, or that it’s the beginning of the end but, if you go early enough, the opposite can be true!

References


[1] Hunter, C., and Commerford, J. (2015). Relationship education and counselling: Recent research findings in CFCA (33), retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/relationship-education-and-counselling

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