Couples Counselling: Relationship & Marriage
Get Your Relationship Back On Track
Most of the couples I see in relationship counselling come to me because they are feeling lost and stuck, or feel like their communication has degraded beyond repair. Relationship problems can happen to anyone, but they do not have to mean the end. In fact, approaching these issues with a qualified relationship counsellor and the right mindset can rebuild the foundations of a relationship to be much stronger than before.
Flexibility, understanding, communication, and compassion are all crucial components of a balanced, healthy relationship. These are all aspects that can be taught if they are lacking, or strengthened if they are weakened. At Winchester Counselling in Christchurch, we help couples achieve this through Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT.
Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples
All of the counselling methods I use are evidence-based, having been researched and refined with real-world people. This holds true for my approach to couples counselling, as Emotionally Focused Therapy is the best evidence-based international practice for working with couples. The approach is focused on deconstructing unhelpful methods of communication that have become habitual for the couple and supplementing them with compassionate, understanding patterns of interaction.
The therapy is short-term, structured, and designed to support a couple through their journey of re-connection. More than anything, I focus on creating a safe space for my clients, so that they can effectively communicate their hopes, dreams and fears to each other without any toxic or habitual behaviours breaking the interaction down. Then, I help them to learn better, more constructive habits to base their continuing relationship on. This is accomplished through the three stages of EFT.
Stage One: Discovering Negative Patterns in a Relationship or Marriage
There is an old saying that “the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it”. This is the principle that stage one of EFT is based on. In order to disassemble the negative patterns that might be creating toxicity and relationship issues, the couple first has to recognise when they are happening.
I focus on helping couples to become aware of any negative patterns they have fallen into, any pitfalls of communication, and any feelings of resentment that may be fuelling recurring issues. Essentially, we “clear the air”. Then, we work on building strategies to cope with conflicts—both big and small—in a healthy way. Finally, the couple learns about the concept of ‘creating space’ for the other to speak, allowing them to delve into the more difficult questions about their relationship. These issues may be things like:
- One partner’s lack of care or support.
- Feelings of not mattering, failing, or of not being good enough or worthy
- Affairs, cheating or issues with trust and fidelity.
- Difficulty initiating intimacy or physical/sexual affection.
- Partner experiencing depression, anxiety, stress or anger issues.
- Trouble with parenting approaches.
- Partner experiencing compulsive behaviours or addiction (sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, affiars, etc.).
Stage Two: Creating New Habits That Support a Healthy Relationship
Once the couple has started to consistently recognise patterns that they fall into and have begun to deconstruct them, we can move onto building more effective methods of communication. This helps foster understanding and compassion, which are absolutely key in a long-term relationship. The goal of these sessions is to teach the couple how to communicate thoughts and feelings to each other in an easily understandable way that is sensitive to the other person. I help couples understand each other’s emotions, longings, and fears more clearly, and teach them how to communicate thoughts and feelings to each other in ways that are understandable and heart-felt. This helps create or repair a strong relationship bond or attachment.
At this stage, we work on helping each partner to see the other as equal and valued, and then expressing those feelings even when talking about difficult topics. This helps couples to feel like they are bonded, that it’s them against the problem, not them against each other. A crucial part of this stage is to rekindle feelings of support, intimacy and compassion between each other, as this is what will help to re-establish intimacy and joy.
Stage Three: Moving Forward To a Better Future Together
The last stage of the relationship counselling process involves building the confidence each person needs to implement the strategies they have learned. Clarity, confidence, and a positive outlook are all absolutely key. The last few sessions are all focused around practising the new methods of communication, as well as analysing the interactions the couple has had over the course of EFT. Establishing that there has been a trajectory of improvement helps the couple to place their trust in the process outside of therapy, so that when they move on, they can keep using the techniques they have learned to create a positive interaction (even during moments of conflict).
Are you ready to take your marriage or relationship in a different direction?
I’m a qualified counsellor that is focused on improving your quality of life, no matter what your situation. If you and your partner are experiencing some problems with your relationship, and you’re ready for a resolution, take control and get in touch with Winchester Counselling today for effective and professional relationship or marriage counselling in Christchurch.
Together, we can change from disconnection and frustration to a secure, trusting, and loving relationship.
" My partner and I found Andrew to be incredibly skilled at facilitating emotionally-charged, honest (and sometimes difficult) conversions between us – always in a safe, supportive and caring environment. He gave us some great tools and insights to help us move forward in our relationship. Andrew is an absolute pro and we have already recommended him to some of our close friends." - Confidential client