Starting couple counselling can feel both daunting and anxiety provoking, especially if it something you have not previously undertaken. Knowing up-front what to expect can reduce some of the anxiety and enable you to focus on what you actually want to get from your sessions.
Your counsellor or psychotherapist should be suitably qualified
You are taking an emotional risk inviting a third party into your relationship and thus it is imperative that they are well trained in working with couples as well as suitably supervised and have membership of either the BACP (in the case of counsellors) or the UKCP (in the case of psychotherapists).
You have the right to enquire about a clinician’s training and experience and you also have the right to make the decision that you do not wish to work with a particular person if you do not feel comfortable enough in their presence.
Your counsellor is not invested in the outcome of your work
Whilst it may sound counter-intuitive, couple counselling or psychotherapy is not about ensuring that a couple stay together. A good therapist will work with you to establish what it is that you as individuals wish to get from the process and then how best to support you and work with you as a couple.
A successful piece of work from the perspective of a couple counsellor or psychotherapist is where a couple are able to, with support, navigate difficult conversations together and reach an outcome where both parties can consider the other’s feelings and experience.
Where children are involved and a couple make the decision to end their relationship (whether driven by one or both member of the couple), the therapist will be considering the needs of the children throughout the process and working with the couple to ensure that the separation is as kind as possible to all concerned.
You can expect your couple counsellor or psychotherapist to be impartial – indeed, this is essential to the work. Your therapist is not there to take sides and their role is to ‘hold’ the couple as an entity, rather than focus on one individual’s needs at the expense of the others.
If you and your counsellor contract to work together then it is likely that this will be weekly initially, possibly moving to fortnightly over time. The process can take time.
Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy is a collective of experienced psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working with a range of client groups, including fellow therapists and health professionals. If you would like more information, or an informal discussion please get in touch. Online therapy is available.