‘Complicated’ seems to be the word that people increasingly use to describe navigating relationships, more so nowadays when it comes to dating in the digital age ever since the advent of dating apps, with all sorts of new age terms doing the rounds on social media such as situationship, benching, demisexual, breadcrumbing, slow fading – fascinating to say the least and a new level of complicated arguably.
Even minus this added level of complexity, relationships can be challenging as it involves two individuals (both of whom come with their own personal histories) to be aligned, in an intimate setting, and be on the same page in terms of needs, expectations and boundaries, which can be a tall ask as relationships don’t come with an instruction manual! You have to feel your way through it with all these considerations in the mix which can genuinely seem complicated. Every relationship has its own unique issues and finding yourself in a gray area can be quite confusing and difficult to navigate. Having relationship issues can make you feel uncertain, insecure, anxious, and depressed. It can take a toll on your mental health and make it difficult for you to function.
A relationship need not necessarily pertain to us and a significant other. Of all the relationships we have, the most important is the one that we have with ourselves as it has a bearing on all our other relationships. One could then say that we are always in a relationship – with ourselves. So, relationship therapy is not just for couples, it is to help us navigate a complicated relationship dynamic, even if that complicated relationship is with ourselves.
Relationship counselling is a form of therapy designed to help individuals or couples to resolve conflicts and improve their communication, intimacy, and overall satisfaction in the relationship.
Relationship counselling involves working with a trained therapist who will listen to both partners and help them identify and address the underlying issues that are causing problems in the relationship, including focusing on their ‘attachment style’ which refers to the way an individual relates to others in close relationships, based on their early experiences with caregivers. It can affect how they approach intimacy, communication, and conflict resolution in their adult relationships.
The goal of relationship counselling is to help couples develop a deeper understanding of each other, learn effective communication skills, and identify and change negative patterns of behavior. The therapist may use a variety of techniques and approaches such as Gottman Therapy, Emotion Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or Schema Couples Therapy depending on the specific needs of the couple.
Relationship counselling can address a wide range of issues that couples may be facing, some common issues being:
Communication problems: Many couples struggle with effective communication, which can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and feelings of frustration or disconnection. Negative patterns such as contempt, criticism, stonewalling or defensiveness can chip away at the goodwill in a relationship leading to resentment and hurt. Relationship counselling can help couples develop better communication skills and learn how to express their needs, feelings, and concerns in a more effective way.
Infidelity: Infidelity can cause significant damage to a relationship, but it is possible to recover from it with the help of relationship counselling. A therapist can help the couple explore the underlying causes of the infidelity and work towards rebuilding trust and intimacy.
Trust issues: Trust is a vital component of any healthy relationship, but it can be challenging to build or maintain if one or both partners have trust issues. Relationship counselling can help couples identify the root causes of trust issues and develop strategies to build trust and strengthen their relationship.
Intimacy issues: Intimacy is essential in a relationship as it forms the basis for connection. Intimacy issues can refer to a lack of physical or emotional intimacy which can eat away at the quality of the relationship over time. Couples can seek therapy to help them address these issues and improve their overall satisfaction in the relationship.
Loss of connection: Couples may seek therapy when they feel like they have grown apart or no longer feel connected to each other. Therapy can help couples explore these feelings and find ways to reconnect and have a more fulfilling relationship.
There are several types of therapy that can be effective in relationship counselling, and the choice of therapy will depend on the specific needs and goals of the couple. The outcome of therapy can in turn depend on many factors, including the therapist's skill and training, the couple's level of commitment and motivation, and the severity of the issues being addressed. Overall, relationship counselling is a valuable resource for couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship and has been proven to be effective in helping couples navigate relationship complexities and have an improved relationship.