There’s no easy answer to this one. However many clients ask me this in the first session. How do you know if you need to see a therapist for relationship or sexual difficulties? Here’s a list of 8 reasons why it might be helpful to you. Of course this list could be endless; there is no right or wrong reason to see a counsellor, as long as you feel it could be useful to you.
- You’re unhappy in the relationship but you don’t know whether to leave. This is a common one. Many people feel stuck in a marriage without emotional or physical intimacy, but they don’t know whether they should end the relationship or try and improve things. Maybe they hope things might change but don’t know whether the grass really is greener on the single side. Marriage counselling or couple therapy won’t necessarily give you these answers but it might help you feel you have tried your best.
- Communication is an issue. Maybe you feel like you used to be able to communicate but now it seems like you’re just talking different languages. Some people feel that trying to discuss important issues at home can just lead to arguments rather than resolution. Couple therapy can be useful in these situations to provide a safe space where difficult conversations can be held with the presence of a third party.
- You don’t trust each other. There are often very good reasons why the trust can be affected in a long term relationship. Infidelity, emotional affairs, lying, spending time away from home, avoiding certain topics… all of these things can contribute to the cornerstone of trust being chipped away at. It can feel very clear when you don’t trust your partner but it’s less obvious how to rebuild that trust and whether you even want to. Anger, blame and shame can cause us to get stuck in cycles of arguments and avoidance. Seeing a Couples Counsellor can help you look at some of these cycles and see how you may both be perpetuating a sense of distrust in each other. Open, honest conversations about what you both need to be able to trust each other again are not easy to have, but can make a significant difference to feelings of hopefulness.
- Big life decisions. Whether to have a baby. Whether to get married. Whether to separate. Whether to sell the house and go on that world cruise. We all make big life decisions in our relationships but sometimes we need support in reaching them. Counselling can provide that extra support when you feel like your relationship can’t contain the confusion and indecisiveness of the Next Step.
- Wider family difficulties. Even if we love the person we are with, we don’t always love their family. Spending time with your partner‘a relatives can become increasingly difficult over time if there are unresolved issues or resentments. However bringing up these issues with your partner can often leave to defensive behaviour and arguments: “How dare you think that about my mum…?”. Exploring your family background and the cultural, emotional and relational narrative of your family of origin can be a big part of Relationship Therapy. We look at what messages and stories have been passed to you from your family about relationships, love and sex, and how they form part of who you are.
- Sexual worries or differences in sex drive. Many couples are unhappy at various stages of life with the quality or quantity of the sex they are having. However, some couples seem able to discuss these issues easily, and others end up arguing or avoiding these conversations. As more and more topics like sex get avoided, the mountain of unresolved issues swept under the rug gets larger. Eventually it becomes more than the couple can handle by themselves. A qualified Relationship or Psychosexual Therapist can help you explore issues around your sex life sensitively, professionally and with zero judgement.
- After the arrival of your first baby. Although the birth of your first child is often one of the most special and important times of your life, nobody tells you about the impact on your relationship. Going from being a “two” to a “three” can be extremely stressful, especially if there are any issues lurking from your own experience of childhood. Jealousy, resentment or frustration can build up easily, and we can feel overwhelmed juggling the needs of a new baby, and the needs of our partner. Not to mention the way that we feel about the changes in our own and our partners body’s, and our roles from lovers to parents. As normal as this all is, having a few sessions with a supportive counsellor during these naturally stressful and exhausting years can help support your relationship when you feel low on emotional resilience.
- To reconnect. Couple therapy isn’t just for couples in crisis. In fact, if more couples sought therapy earlier on, then perhaps many divorces or separations could be avoided. It’s natural to want to wait until things get really bad before seeking professional help, but in fact many couples come to learn to reconnect and enhance their love. They may feel that overtime they have lost that spark that they once felt, and that they want to strengthen their emotional bond again. This is a great reason to come and see a Relationship Counsellor, and discover new possibilities for your partnership.