Most people do not realise that ongoing effort and skills are needed to maintain a fulfilling long-term relationship. It is inevitable to experience the occasional communication breakdown or argument. In fact, if handled successfully, arguments can be a helpful and essential part of a relationship and can even energise it. However, when conflicts are happening on a regular basis or creating distress in one or both partners, relationship counselling can be helpful.
Couples may seek counselling at different points in their relationship. Some seek help only when they realise that their relationship is in a severe crisis. Others do so in the early stages of becoming aware that they are not able to resolve problems on their own. Individuals may also decide to get help to improve their relationships even when their partners are unwilling to attend counselling together with them.
Some common issues that bring couples or individuals to therapy for their relationship include:
- Communication breakdown
- Verbal or physical conflict
- Lack of trust or jealousy
- Lack of intimacy
- Sexual incompatibility
- Power imbalance
- Unfulfilled emotional needs
- Problems with extended family
- Adjustment to living together
- Adjustment to parenthood, retirement, or children leaving home
- Differences in ideas about child-rearing, lifestyle, or management of finances
The aim of Couple Therapy or Couple Counselling or treatment for individuals in a relationship is to help partners decide on how to solve their problems and achieve their goals. To this end, the therapist may focus on the history of the relationship to gain an understanding of the emotional issues and problems that have occurred. In the process of doing this, couples may learn to:
- Recognise negative interaction cycles and destructive patterns of relating to one another;
- Improve communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills;
- Identify and recognise cognitive distortions (negative thoughts and assumptions) about one another that can lead to resentment;
- Establish more realistic expectations from each other or from the relationship;
- Recognise the impact of changes or loss on the relationship;
- Create or recreate opportunities to bond emotionally;
- Increase the sense of intimacy.
Research has shown that couple therapy can improve relationship matters, as well as an individual’s mental health and coping abilities.
Currently the Clinical Psychologists on our team are able to help individuals with difficulties in their relationships, but do not provide therapy for couples. If you would like to find out more about our strategies to help individuals who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships, or to book an appointment with our clinical psychologists who provides treatment for relationship issues, please email or call the clinic on 02 9438 2511.