M.Sc. B.A. Relate Cert C.C.
Registered Counsellor BACP & UKRC
Coast Road, Rhyl, LL18 3PL
07551 529 386
A couple is two people together in an intimate relationship.
This may be a married or unmarried couple or two people in a same sex relationship.
The couple might be cohabiting or conducting a distance relationship. They can be of any adult life stage (18 onwards).
A person can come to relationship counselling without their partner or while not in a current relationship.
How the problem is described by the couple is a beginning point for couple counselling.
Couple counsellors generally don't find it helpful to the couple, to be diagnostic or labelling in their joint working toward problem definition.
The exception to this would be if one partner or children or young people are at risk of harm from another family member.
Couple counsellors expect adult clients to be responsible for their own part of the family story.
A couple counsellors is not there to take sides or pass judgement on your story... but to help you find a way toward solutions to your problems as you see them.
Most counselling follows a broadly problem solving model:
A counselling assessment is generally the first session or sometimes the first sessions.
The counsellor may ask about problem and client expectations.
They will ask about the duration of the problem and how you have managed problems in the past.
They will also be interested in your support structures and other help around you.
This allows the counsellor to assess suitability of relationship counselling at this time for this couple.
It gives the couple a flavour of the therapeutic relationship and a chance to describe the main problem. It is a way of focussing for the clients and counsellor.
Toward the end of the assessment the couple and counsellor will agree whether to meet again and how frequently.
It is not unusual to agree up to six further sessions to further unpack the issues to understand and work toward solutions, although every couple is different and contract/agreement of work will reflect this.
(For further information see section on 1st session)
A trained and experienced couple counsellor will have in mind several models of counselling depending on their training.
Theories are maps to understanding. At any given point a counsellor will use whichever of these make sense to their clients.
Often these focus on what happens between people, whereas individual (non couple) counselling often focuses on within the individual person.
Sometimes these theories will be psychodynamic (looking at the impact of early relationships on current relationships, so looking back at history helps understand how come things have become problematic currently).
Systemic theory (reflecting on inter-relationships, positions, patterns as part of systems) also looks at past to understand present in order to change future.
Sometimes relationship counsellors will use problem solving and solution finding theories e.g. solution focussed brief therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy strategies (working mostly in the "here and now").
These latter models can be really useful for the action stage.
Source: Butler and Joyce Counselling Couples in Relationships