One of the main questions I am often asked about couples counselling is how it differs from individual counselling.
There are a few key similarities: in both individual and couples counselling confidentiality is key, as is a non judgemental stance and a commitment to working together to solve the problem.
A couple state of mind
However, in couples counselling I work with the couple relationship rather than the two individuals. We can think of this as a couple state of mind – a third position in which couples can observe themselves and think about themselves as a couple and what they create together both positively and negatively.
In therapy sometimes the couple are unable to hold the third position, and they have lost the ability to be themselves while also seeing themselves, in the relationship with the other. So,this is facilitated by the counsellor, who holds the third position for the couple, until they reach the point where they can do this for themselves.
The sieve and the container
When couples first come to me it is often because this couple state of mind is no longer efficiently functioning, picture a sieve, and you get the idea.Sometimes it feels like one half of the couple is doing all the work, other times it can be that the only way the couple can relate to each other is via an attack. The aim in couples counselling is to get the couple state of mind working like a container that can bear the highs and lows and the bits in between.