In my experience the central concepts in couples counselling, or relationship therapy, are communication, clarification, and understanding.
I encourage couples to talk constructively about their relationship. In some situations, when counselling commences, each partner would like the same outcome (for example, less conflict). Alternatively perhaps one partner has a different agenda from the other, in which case negotiation is the way forward.
Without taking sides, I will work with you together toward an agreed aim of improving or rescuing your relationship or, if you wish to separate or divorce, to do so as amicably as possible.
You may be nervous about the prospect of discussing private matters with me in front of your partner, but keep in mind that I will not be there to criticise you or to make judgements. With the skills I have gained from couples counselling training, and my years of experience, I will seek to be supportive of your endeavours to express yourself and to be heard and understood by your partner.
‘We find ourselves on different sides of a line nobody drew’ Leonard Cohen (from Old Ideas 2012)
If you can overcome the initially daunting step of entering couples counselling/relationship therapy, the rewards are often quickly gained. In many cases, couples get an immediate short-term boost. This may be partly down to a sense of relief that something is being done, and also because of the fact that your partner has agreed to make this courageous move with you and that this indicates she or he cares.
After a session or two, partners often begin to support each other through the necessary changes to their relationship. For this reason, couples counselling typically needs fewer sessions than one-to-one therapy.
As with individual counselling, naturally the sessions are confidential. However, in extreme circumstances, there may be an exception to my commitment regarding confidentiality. Ethically, I am obliged to follow child protection procedures and will involve statutory services where a child is considered to be at very serious risk.
For couples the sessions are of one hour and a quarter duration, and the fee is £55.
In summary, couples counselling or relationship therapy is usually about communication, and clearer communication leads to better understanding.