Organisations

West Wellbeing Suicide Prevention

West Wellbeing are a suicide prevention & intervention charity operating in Belfast, providing care and support to those affected by poor mental health.   Services

West Armagh Consortium

West Armagh Consortium are an umbrella group for community based support and activities in Armagh.   Services Cultural Festivals Promotion of the Irish Language Armagh

Angel Eyes NI

Angel Eyes NI is a charity supporting blind and visually impaired children and young people throughout Northern Ireland. We are a solution focussed charity. Our

Newry SureStart

Newry SureStart aims to provide a central point for children’s services/programmes within the area, providing FREE support to families from the antenatal stage to when

What does Relationship Therapy involve?

Written by Lillian Neill

Lillian is an accredited Relationship Counsellor, with a Higher Diploma in Marriage and Relationship Counselling and Therapy.

Relationship Therapy (or relationship counselling) is a space where couples can work through issues affecting their relationship. The current covid-19 situation and its lockdowns, have had a huge impact on relationships, especially those already fragile or fraught with difficulties. Please know that help is available, and most of all, needing help is normal. Even without instances like covid-19, it’s totally normal to experience challenges in a relationship – especially when diversity, in all its forms, impacts individuals and couples. 

What does Relationship Therapy involve?

Relationship therapy/counselling provides a warm and secure environment where couples and individuals can feel safe to explore issues impacting on their relationships in a confidential manner without fear of judgement. It enables you to explore your issues, how they arose and begin the process of gaining insight into your relationship and resolve conflict, enabling you both to negotiate a way forward.

How do I know if my relationship needs therapy?

There are many complex and diverse issues that cause conflict in relationships and below are some of the most common:

-Communication

-Arguments

-Affairs

-Intimacy

-Finance

-Physical/Mental Health

-Domestic Abuse

-Separation/Divorce

-Co-parenting

-Step/Blended Families

It’s totally normal to experience challenges in a relationship - especially when diversity, in all its forms, impacts individuals and couples.

How many sessions of Relationship Therapy can I expect?

Each relationship is unique and sessions are tailored to meet the needs of individuals and couples. It is normal for sessions to last between 6 and 12 weeks, but for some this can take longer depending on the complexity of the issues.

What can I expect in a Relationship Therapy session? 

The counsellor will facilitate couples in identifying issues in the relationship and then explore how and when these issues arise. You will develop new skills to help resolve issues, including improving communication, building trust and conflict resolution.  This process is not about blame or shame, but it’s about strengthening the relationship by using new skills outside the counselling room.

The therapy/counselling helps couples to improve their communication, which very often becomes a big problem because of unresolved issues. Improving communication helps the couple to hear and respect one another’s perspectives, and doing so enables them to get to the root of the problem. From there, the therapist/counsellor will help navigate a way forward.

Relationship therapy helps couples to improve their communication, which very often becomes a big problem because of unresolved issues.

Is Relationship Therapy just for couples? Or can you have Relationship Therapy for other relationships, like friends or family?

Although relationship therapy/counselling is usually for couples, individuals can also use this if a partner doesn’t wish to attend. Family issues do arise in relationship counselling in the context of how these issues impact a couple’s relationship. For family relationship therapy/counselling, Family Therapists are specialised in providing counselling and support, where family members can attend sessions together. 

It is unusual for friends to attend relationship counselling, but if friendships are impacting on relationships, this can be explored in your sessions. Individual counselling can explore managing relationships, including friendships.

What are the benefits of Relationship Therapy?

Benefits include:

-Improved communication

-Resolved identity issues

-Deepened connection and intimacy

-Renegotiated commitments 

-Developed decision-making

I want to try relationship therapy, but I don’t know how to tell my partner or to ask them to join. What do you suggest I do and how do I go about it?

If you are seeking relationship counselling, you are probably already feeling frustrated with the relationship or partner, so timing is very important.  Try to introduce the subject when you are in a place of calm, which usually allows you to listen to each other. 

If it’s done during an argument, people can feel blamed and become defensive. When you’re discussing therapy, highlight how much you value the positives in the relationship and how you want it to be better. Allow yourself to be a little vulnerable and let him/her know your fears for the relationship if you cannot resolve issues on your own.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Join the Conversation

If you have a story to tell or guidance to give as a professional, join the conversation in making mental health a topic we can talk about together.

Ask a Question

Do you have a question and you don’t know who to ask? ASK US! You can ask your question anonymously! We’ll write our reply as our next blog post.

Posts

title image

10 Self Care Tips for Men

As a counsellor I spend time exploring with guys what self-help might look like and especially practical tools that can be used daily. Below are

We all experience grief differently

There is an expectation that reacting to loss and grief should be universal, but learning to accept how we process and manage grief individually is really important.

Dealing with Conflict in Relationships

Even strong and healthy relationships, face conflict from time to time, Lillian Neill explains how negative patterns of communication can impact finding resolutions to conflict.

Why can’t I access CBT if I have complex PTSD?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be accessed by someone with Complex post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but other modes of therapy might be more helpful depending on your individual circumstances.