Many people may feel that seeking relationship counselling means they’ve ‘failed’ as a couple and think of it as a last resort. However, in reality, you don’t even need to have anything ‘wrong’ in your relationship to consider counselling. It really is for everyone and could help keep you and your partner on track for a successful relationship! We spoke to relationship expert Dr Lurve about the signs you might need a little relationship counselling and whether it will actually work.
As a start, Dr Lurve shared that even healthy relationships can gain something from chatting through problems.
“It’s good for couples to seek a third party for their relationship, even if it’s going seemingly well,” Dr Lurve explained.
“This is where they can safely bring up anything that may be bothering them, or festering, or where they want to work on communication skills, which, if left unresolved, can lead to arguments or resentment down the line.
“Being comfortable enough to find someone that’s unbiased and offers open, honest feedback shows the strength of a relationship.”
She also pointed out some clear examples of relationship difficulties that could benefit from the guidance of a counsellor. These include poor communication and trust issues, especially if you’ve experienced a break in trust with your current partner, or in a former relationship that was left unresolved.
Dr Lurve stressed that “Individual problems often seep into relationships and become an issue if the individual hasn’t dealt with their own insecurities or reservations.”
This is why, she said, when a couple begins relationship counselling with her, Dr Lurve will start with individual sessions with both partners before sitting them down together. This way, both people can highlight any individual and couple-related issues without their partner present.
“Once the couple comes together, we work on learning to communicate and listen respectfully; identifying boundaries that need to be established, triggers in a relationship and how this impacts the couple. We often go back and forth between individual and couple sessions,” Dr Lurve said.
She added that being neutral is vital to helping couples mend their relationships and move forward, whether that’s together or separately.
So, are couples that go to counselling more successful than those who don’t? Not necessarily, but it can certainly help.
“Couples that need help but don’t seek it are less likely to get over their issues in a timely manner, compared to those that identify a problem and actively seek help,” she said.
“This is because couples that go to find help really want their relationship to work no matter what, and [they] are willing to put their differences aside to become stronger together – they don’t let ego or pride get in the way.”
Dr Lurve added here that she has seen people and couples from all walks of life when it comes to relationship counselling, and that there isn’t one particular type of person (or couple) that thrives with it.
“It can be newlyweds to people who’ve been together for 20+ years, to those who have experienced cheating/betrayal in the past, or those who are feeling insecure in their own self worth and have insecurities they can’t help on their own,” she explained.
“With the myriad of issues I cover as a love and relationship expert, no issue is too small or too big for me to uncover with people that seek help.”
If you’re not entirely comfortable talking to a professional about your relationship, Dr Lurve recommends that couples try to speak openly and candidly with each other about any issues they might have first.
If you can’t speak to each other honestly without it turning into an argument, this could be a sign you need to enlist the help of a relationship coach to help mediate these problems.
Another thing Dr Lurve highlighted is that you shouldn’t feel guilty or like you’ve ‘failed’ in your relationship if you decide to seek out counselling.
“I have seen so many people who feel this way about finding answers and looking for guidance, but it doesn’t need to be this way – coaching and counselling is about having a helping hand that guides you through any situation in life,” she said.
“Life can be tough, especially during big moments and major life changes. It’s okay to seek help and be vulnerable in order to live your life to the fullest.”
She made it clear that counselling is certainly not a ‘quick fix’, but it’s worth investing time into your relationship.
“Where you water, love will grow,” she shared.
“Looking at your relationship as a living, breathing organism that needs nurturing means when you look after it and invest in it. It will flourish for a lifetime.”