Couples and Family Counselling
As a family and couple therapist I will focus less on the individuals in a family or couple and will instead look more at the problematic patterns that have developed between them over time. Just as an individual moves through a series of stages, so too do couples and families. As a couple or family moves from one stage to another they can encounter difficulties because the skills and roles required by the next stage are often quite different from those of the previous stage.
Generally it is best if both people can attend the sessions for couples work. However it is possible to attend on your own if your partner doesn’t want to engage in therapy right now. Sometimes when they see the positive changes in you they may change their mind and become more interested in the process. Couples therapy is a real investment in your relationship and can build your resilience to cope not only with the current stressors but also be better prepared for future life stressors.
As a family therapist, I work in ways that acknowledge the contexts of people's families and other relationships, sharing and respecting individuals' different perspectives, beliefs, views and stories, and exploring possible ways forward. I therefore not only support change with individuals but also in their relationships in the family and beyond.
I may not need to see the whole family in each session but we will hold all members of the family in mind as we work towards the desired change. I usually work most intensively with parents as they are the leaders of the family and often initiate and support a lot of the ideas of change that the family generates. At times it will be important for all members of the household to be involved in sessions.
There are a number of critical times during the life cycle of a couple and family which have the potential to cause significant challenges and difficulties for the family. Some of the most common are;
• when the first child arrives
• when the second and subsequent children join the family
• children starting school
• when your children are adolescents
• when children become young adults and move out
These are predictable times when there can be increased pressure on couples and families, but what about the less predictable. Life is often filled with planned and unplanned changes. Accidents, illness, relocation, death and change in circumstance can all interrupt the normal life cycle of the family. Sometimes even the strongest of families needs some support to get back on track.