Whilst I thoroughly enjoy working with individuals, I have to say my work with couples is equally rewarding and presents a whole different therapeutic setting, writes Jason Hanson.
I originally qualified in relationship counselling and have to admit to that excitement when I begin working with a new couple.
Couple therapy can involve anything from communication breakdown to infidelity and it’s fair to say no two couples are the same.
The challenge with working with couples is that quite often by the time they seek therapy, it may well have escalated to a stage where the relationship has become tenuous, and seeing a professional is the last throw of the dice.
Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for one partner to use therapy as a safe place to initiate a separation.
Whilst these sessions can be emotionally draining for all involved, it is not the role of the therapist to keep couples together.
In fact, therapy can still be deemed a success if the couple separate, as they may have used the therapeutic environment to come to a decision about their relationship which
they feel is the best outcome.
One of the reasons I enjoy working so much with couples is that it gives me an impartial insight into the many different aspects of a relationship and I also get to hear both perspectives.
One thing I learned from couple work quite quickly is that it is very rare for only one partner to be responsible for the issues within the relationship.
In everyday life, this is an extremely difficult concept to grasp, particularly when you are working with affairs.
Imagine being faced with a couple and trying to ascertain what things an individual may or may not have not been doing to contribute to their partner having an affair.
This is not about apportioning blame, but it is important to remember that in these situations each partner may be both a perpetrator and a victim.
It appears clichéd, but I would estimate around 95 per cent of the couples I have worked with have communication problems.
It is usually when communication breaks down completely, and for a significant period of time, that people will seek therapy.
Sometimes within relationships it is easy to take things for granted and cease working on them.
Couples can begin to live as individuals and neglect the relationship.
Sometimes this goes unrecognised, but on other occasions it doesn’t, yet there is a reticence to discuss any trepidation about the relationship with a partner.
Too often in therapy do I make observations to couples that ostensibly they are guessing at how their partner is feeling or what they want/don’t want.
Once I get couples to face each other and open that channel of communication with transparency, in many cases, the change in their outlook on the relationship is almost tangible.
I am not sure why, but it seems there is an increase in people trying to communicate their message through numerous methods, with talking being the last option.
Relationships will very rarely stay the same. People change, priorities change and expectations change.
Sometimes things we once liked, now frustrate us.
Being open about these things gives the relationship the opportunity to change with the individuals, and the vehicle best suited to this, is communication.
Visit Jason Hanson's website here.