First Session: Couples counselling can be a daunting process because there are two sets of opinions needing to be heard, therefore it is important that you both trust and feel able to open up to your counsellor. Subsequently, Ghita recommends that the first introductory session is for an hour for you to get to know Ghita and for information gathering. Here is what to expect during your first initial hour long session:
Both of you will tell your story – get a few things off your chest and be heard – perhaps for the first time in years. If there is time, reflective listening exercises will be used to elaborate on resentment and grievances, so that you understand each others viewpoints.
Goals: Ghita will ask you to decide (as a team) what you want to achieve in therapy and what needs to be urgently tackled first.
What Kind of Marriage Counselling Method Will Ghita Use? Ghita will decide on the most appropriate method depending on your situation. Here is a general guide: - Gottman: General Marriage Issues such as Communication Problems, Infidelity, Blame etc. - Heart versus Ego- Andersen Method: Power Imbalances, Self-Sabotage, Infidelity - Narrative Therapy: Second Marriages, Step-Children and Extended Family Interference
Relationship Repair Will Take on Average Between 4-12 Sessions Couples should be aware that because there are two people telling their side of a story, it is unlikely that a counsellor will move on onto Marriage Counselling Strategies before the second or third session. Sometimes Ghita will ask you to do a Gottman Couples Quiz to find out what your commitment levels are. There is a lot of information to get through to understand the problems. Counsellors cannot repair a relationship that has take years to become problematic in one session. Please expect to invest in your relationship repair over several sessions. Commitment is Critical Commitment is one of the “weight-bearing walls” of Dr. John Gottman’s Sound Relationship House. It’s about demonstrating through your words and actions that you are in the relationship for better or for worse, and that you can count on each other. Commitment is critical regardless of your relationship status, whether you’re dating, cohabiting, or married. Without commitment, couples begin to nurture resentment for what they think is missing in their relationship instead of nurturing gratitude for what they have.
“Commitment is about choice. And it’s not just choosing your partner. It’s about choosing the relationship, day after day.”
The Gottman 7 Out of 10 Commitment Rule If you would like help with your love relationship, but you are not living with your partner, you may be better off having individual counselling to talk things out. According to the Gottman Marriage Method, your commitment level needs to be at least 7/10. If you are unsure of your situation try the Tough Question Quiz below to discover your commitment level...
Tough Question QUIZ: Asking the right questions of yourself and your partner, helps to uncover the causes beneath issues. Scale your answer from 1 - 10. Scoring: 1-5: No or not so important; 5-10: Yes or very important.
I share deeply personal information about myself with my spouse. (Score: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
I find myself thinking about my spouse during the day.
Because of my commitment to my spouse, I would not let others come between us.
I receive considerable emotional support from my spouse.
My relationship with my spouse is very romantic.
I expect my love for my spouse to last for the rest of my life.
I communicate well with my spouse.
I legitimately expect to treat my partner as well as, or better than, they treat me.
In a strong disagreement, I really believe that my partner is entitled to their opinion.
Under duress, I have the courage and tenacity to seek my partner’s reality and the courage to express my reality when the stakes are high.
Is it important to let your partner know what you think, feel, and are concerned about? (Even if they really can’t appreciate what they don’t understand.)
How much do you care about the price your partner will have to pay? (Everything has a price and we always pay for it in some way.) Is it low or high?
Answers: If you score mostly low (under 7) on these questions, couples counselling may not be the best method.
Good Advice for Couples:
When the Honeymoon is Over It’s easy to be considerate and loving to your partner when everything is going well, the sun is shining, and employment is high. But when the power bill has not been paid, you’re tired or emotional, and your partner is getting cranky and blaming you for the problems in their life, that is when you get tested.
No Magic Wand at the 11th Hour Counsellors cannot be expected to ‘fix’ a relationship where a lot of damage has been done over many years.Counsellors cannot make one person cooperate if they don’t want to. If one party is about to walk out, is hostile to the process or therapist, or has already walked out of a relationship, there may be little that we can do. Furthermore, if there is any family (domestic) violence in a relationship the partners are better off having individual counselling and working on their issues alone before they spend money on repairing their marriage or de facto relationship. If the family violence is more than verbal abuse a counsellor may consider the relationship to be irrepairable and recommend mediation.
What if we Have Tried Couples Counselling Before with Another Therapist and it Wasn't Successful? Couples counselling is a process that requires clients to open up and to commit to the proven formulas designed by top researchers in relationships. It does require an open heart and full trust in the professionalism of your therapist. If you don't like their approach or method, you can shop around for a better fit as there a different types of couples counselling. We understand that it is very 'personal' and it does make people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable - afterall, secrets come out and the therapist has to unpack belief systems and often a lot of mistrust and emotion.
Problem Solving Learning how to think differently about a problem is often more effective than thinking about what action you need to take. The fact is, your partner is limited in his or her ability to respond to you and vice versa. Accepting this fact is a huge step towards maturity. When working towards improving your relationship, your attitude towards change is more important than the action you need to take. It is relatively easy to determine what to do and how to do it. The real challenge is getting yourself to actually do it; which is why people go to therapy to stay on track. People often say, 'We know what we need to do, we just need someone to keep us honest and to make us do it.'
Focus on Changing Yourself Rather than Your Partner You can learn a lot about yourself by understanding what annoys you and how you handle it. Couples Therapy works best if you have more goals for yourself than for your partner. I am at my best when I help you to reach the objectives you set for yourself. You can’t change your partner. Your partner can’t change you. You can influence each other, but that doesn’t mean you can change each other. Becoming a more effective partner is the most efficient way to change a relationship.
“The more you believe that your partner should be different, the less initiative you will take to change the patterns between you.” - Ghita
Be Aware that Good Marriage Counsellors Have to Reality Check Counsellors such as Ghita, try to be as neutral as much as possible, however sometimes it is their job to challenge people with story inconsistencies, contrary body language and to do a type of reality checking. Moreover, this can be hard for some people to accept if they are not in touch with their emotions, or they they have a habit blame others to avoid conflict. While counsellors try to appear unbiased and sensitive to both parties, in order to do their jobs properly and to keep therapy on track, they do have to call clients out on their junk and tell clients when their behaviour is counter-productive, alienating or abusive, otherwise therapy is derailed and all the good work can be lost.
To get the most out of your money in session, the counsellor's job is not to be your buddy, but to show you the best methods for getting your relationship back on track, and sometimes this means asking you to take responsibility for past events so that you can move forward and focus on the future.
Anger Issues in One Party If one partner has anger issues, depression, serious addictions, severe anxiety issues, etc., it is best if they do individual psychotherapy with a psychiatrist before investing in couples counselling.
Walk-Outs Sometimes, during couples counselling one party will become angry (or defensive) and walk out of the session. This is not unusual in this type of sensitive therapy. Please note that counselling fees must still be paid and appointments require 24 hours notice of cancellation. See Cancellation Policyor FAQ
Can I Attend by Myself? Certainly. If your partner refuses to attend marriage counselling sessions, you can still attend individual sessions. It's more challenging to mend a relationship this way, but you can benefit by learning more about your own reactions and behaviour.
5 Ways to Help Your Marriage Using Individual Counselling:
Be Honest About Your Own Emotions in order to comprehend why you feel the way you feel and how you can self-regulate/ gain control over those emotions.
Examine Childhood Fears, Mistrust, Anger, Self-Esteem Issues that are triggered by your partner. How can you work on yourself to improve your interactions with others, instead of allowing your inner-critic to sabotage your relationships. Would you like to try individual counselling or NLP?
Communication Style: How is your communication style hampering your relationship? Could you deliver your phrases better? Do you state your needs in a positive or negative way?
Understand your Partner's Love Language and your own. This goes a long way to understand how to love each other and get brownie points. [Book: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman]
Expectations of Partner Roles: Is your expectation of your partner based on your parent's traditional roles? Is it reasonable? It is always a good idea to examine and be honest about what you expect of your partner (in terms of spouse or parental roles) and then compare these to what is normal in the modern era.
Some Final Thoughts:
Reflect on your objectives for being in therapy
To get to the bottom of a problem often means you first accept how complex it is
Trust is the foundational building block of a flourishing relationship
You create trust by doing what you say you will do
Think about your next step that supports or relates to your larger objectives for attaining the kind of relationship that you wish to create, or the partner that you aspire to become
You can’t create a flourishing relationship by only fixing what’s wrong. But it’s a start
If you don’t know what you feel in important areas of your relationship, it is like playing high stakes poker when you see only half your cards. You will make a lot of dumb plays
The possibility exists that we choose partners we need, but don’t necessarily want
It’s impossible to be in a highly interdependent relationship without ever being judgemental, or being judged
If you strive to always feel emotionally safe in your relationship and get it, you will pay the price by becoming dull
If neither of you ever rocks the boat, you will end up with a dull relationship
Conflict is the normal emotional reaction to feeling a threat or high stress. Improving your relationship means better management of these reactions
Everything you do works for some part of you, even if other parts of you don’t like it
Call Ghita for a quick chat today on 0439 888 070