In this essay I will critically examine couple counselling and focus on particular perspectives in relation to this and how this differs from other types of counselling. I will attempt to define the challenges and problems associated with couple counselling with particular emphasis on gender socialisation. I will identify the issues that may arise and how gender socialisation can impact on couple counselling.
I will discuss how very often counselling can arouse strong emotions that draw from other aspects of one’s own life. Couple counselling can give rise to deep personal issues from one’s own life be it as a participant or as the counsellor themselves. Although the particular conflicts within the couple are relevant I will highlight how counselling frequently involves the nature of the relationship as each has separately come to define it. Aside from the relationship I will reflect on my own personal experiences and demonstrate how they can relate to the issues of the clients in the counselling process. I want to focus in particular on the skills required for couple counselling and how to use this to identify and possibly resolve their issues.
The main object or goal of the counselling process is to open the communication channels and support both members in trying to identify what is working or not working in their relationship and help them find resolutions to their issues if any. Finally I will conclude by summarising together all the above points and illustrate my understanding of the counselling process and its challenges.
Defining couple counselling
“The heart of good couples counselling is the facilitation of each person’s story and their partner’s listening to that story” (Charles O’Leary 1999, page 131).
Couple counselling is a type of psychotherapy for a couple or established partners that tries to resolve problems in the relationship. Typically, two people attend counselling sessions together to discuss specific issues and work on problems within the relationship. Couple counselling questions the couple's roles, patterns, rules, goals, and beliefs. Counselling often begins as the couple analyses the good and bad aspects of the relationship. “With the couple, the counsellor has the task of creating a context where multiple versions of the story can emerge.” (Barbara McKay – The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy, page 508). The couple counsellor then works with the couple to help them understand that, in most cases, both partners are contributing to problems in the relationship. When this is understood, both of them can then learn to change how they interact with each other to solve problems. “The intention of the counsellor is to bring forth multiple versions of the various stories around an event or relationship in order to find some common ground through which to begin to develop new meanings and jointly create new possible future stories.” (Barbara McKay – The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy, page 509).
The members of the couple may be encouraged to draw up a contract in which each give each other the opportunity to express their feelings and experience of the relationship uninterrupted while also willing to accept feedback on what the other has said. There are many different types of couples from married to cohabitating, and also a separated couple who come for counselling together. Couple counselling and individual counselling are both effective in helping people who want to improve his or her relationships or other behavioural problems.
However, if one partner has an issue with addiction for example, then that issue needs to be addressed before focusing on the relationship itself. Couple counselling requires a delicate balance, not of time spent with each member but a balance of attention so that both feel valued and have their feelings acknowledged. Failure to do this could be very...