What Exactly is Your Role as Our Couple’s Counselor?
My role as your couple’s counselor is to:
-Work collaboratively with you to empower you overcome the relationship problems/patterns that have been keeping you feeling stuck and powerless.
-I will bring both partners to an awareness of the blind spots and unconscious patterns that perpetuate their suffering while identifying their individual and relationship strengths.
-I will assist you and your partner in moving into conscious love. Conscious love can be described as a mindfulness based approach to romantic love in which a couple has more of a spiritual partnership. In conscious love both individuals learn to be a better nurturer to self and partner by healing their core wounds. Core wounds are the deep wounds we carry that we are often not even conscious of that hold us back from living fearlessly and authentically.
-I will make sure that by the end of the counseling process, you have the tools and the ability to have “nurturing talks” instead of painful or frustrating fights. The “nurturing talk” that I teach couples is both a catalyst and cultivator of ongoing verbal intimacy. It allows each partner to have their perspective and feelings validated while expressing the love and appreciation that they feel for their partner, as well as any frustrations, resentments, or differences in a healthy and nurturing manner. Nurturing talks requires preparation and practice, but the results I see with my couples is a deepening of love and intimacy, and a movement into authenticity of self.
How do I Know Whether or Not Couples Counseling Will Help?
I know many couples out there realize that they could benefit from couples counseling. Yet they would like to have a better idea of what they will really get out of it before they invest their time and money. Ultimately, what you will get out of couple’s counseling depends on several factors.
Research has shown that a high percentage of couple who come in for therapy waited too long to get professional help. Therefore it is important to be honest with yourselves as to whether or not there is enough good will left between the two of you to do the work involved in couples therapy. Your flame of feeling attracted and in love can be out, but you must at least have good will and a desire to give couples therapy your best shot for the process to have any chance of rekindling the flame of your love.
Secondly, you must be able to get some kind of a sense from the first session as to whether or not the counselor’s personality and counseling style feels comfortable for both of you. Your counselor needs to be a good fit.
A third factor is that you must understand that the counselor is there to help you learn how to have a healthier relationship. However, to achieve a healthier relationship takes a commitment from both partners to: make their relationship a priority; follow through with working towards goals set in counseling; and honor verbal commitments made in counseling. Remaining open to change (change can be difficult, even if it is needed for happiness and growth), following through with goals, putting plans into action, and being willing to ask “What could I do differently to improve this situation?”. When you think about it, these are things you would do to keep yourself from getting stressed at work (or fired). Doesn’t it make sense to put the same effort into your family life and your relationship with your significant other?
Resistance and Gender Differences in Couples Therapy
Everyone establishes their own pace in the couples counseling process. However, if one partner is operating at a near stagnant pace in spite of knowing that their partner is bounding ahead and becoming frustrated with what might seem like reluctance to them, growing pains could ensue if the other partner doesn’t pick up the pace. However, even when this happens, individual growth is still gained, mainly for the partner who is most actively pursuing the goals established in counseling. There may even be some relationship growth, but it won’t be as significant as the growth that occurs when both partners are fully committed to the process.
Resistance is a common occurrence in the counseling process. Many individuals are afraid of change, or they are telling themselves they won’t be able to do their part in the change process, so they don’t really try. A good counselor will do two things: (1) Help the stagnant partner identify the source of their resistance so that they are able to make working through their resistance a goal to be achieved in order to join their partner more fully in the process of creating a more harmonious and satisfying relationship. (2) Help the growing partner stay in a state of softness and openness to their partner rather than becoming judgmental by realizing that loving themselves and their partner (while setting healthy boundaries in a soft and loving way) to the best of their ability is going to create the change they desire faster than anything else.
Christine Dufond, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist #53645
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