Now our intimate relationships create a sense of balance, peace, and emotional well-being, and, if these are compromised, it can have a negative impact on all areas of our lives. So, let’s start with asking ourselves if we could benefit from couples counselling. Do you find it increasingly difficult to talk to your partner? Do you find that you can’t agree and that you’re bickering and arguing a lot? Maybe you’ve noticed that you trust your partner less than you used to, or that there is no warmth, or closeness, in the relationship anymore. Maybe you have children, and you’re worrying about the impact that your relationship is having on those children. If you’re answering ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, it’s likely that you and your partner could benefit from some couples counselling.

So, let’s look at what good couples counselling is like. There are 5 key stages to a good couples counselling The first one is a joint session with you, and your partner, and your therapist. And in this session, your therapist is going to try and understand more about your problems. So they will ask both you and your partner to identify the problems as you see them, the goals of therapy (what you would like to get from the therapy), and also any obstacles that you can anticipate things that might get in the way of you and your partner doing the therapy.

The next stage of this process involves what you do outside of sessions. Now what you do outside of sessions really does determine how effective the therapy is. It’s not enough to just come to the session once a week and talk to your therapist—you have to take what you learn in the session and use it in your life. So the second part of good couples counselling involves the tasks, or the homework, that you do outside of sessions. So your therapist will set you tasks, for example, recording the misunderstandings that you and your partner might have, keeping a diary of your thoughts and feelings, and also practising some of the techniques that you learn in the session to help reduce unhelpful behaviors.

The third part of good couples counselling is individual sessions. So you’ll have a number of individual sessions with your therapist where you will be able to explore things without the pressure of your partner being present. And your therapist is really trying to get to grips with what you contribute to the relationship good and bad but also what you expect to get from the relationship. The fourth part of good couples counselling is a joint session, again, with you, your partner, and the therapist, where your therapist will sit down and give you a clear explanation of your problems as they see them. And also a clear idea of an action plan—a way to help you and your partner recreate what first drew you both together.

You will then start to work towards this with the help of your therapist. And this usually involves an average minimum of 10 to 15 sessions, and it’ll probably be a combination of individual and couples sessions. Then, once you feel happier your relationship feels more fulfilling. You will begin the final stage of therapy. And this is really where you future-proof the changes that you’ve made and also tackle some of those early teething problems. So, that’s good couples counselling in a nutshell.