While very rewarding, relationships can also bring challenges and difficulties. Most couples will have disagreements with each other from time to time. In some cases, these disagreements may continue escalating, and relationship counselling could be beneficial for both parties.
Working as a relationship counsellor can lead to great satisfaction for you and your clients, as you use the skills you’ve learned in counselling school to help couples navigate difficult periods in their relationship. Indeed, studies have shown a significant decrease in psychological distress and increase in relationship satisfaction for clients after completing couples therapy (Hewison, Casey, & Mwamba, 2016). In fact, more and more couples are recognizing the benefits of relationship counselling. According to one study, an increasingly large number of millennial couples are attending marriage counselling (Dubé, 2018). It found that 51% of millennial couples had attended marriage counselling, using sessions to address issues “involving communication, affairs, money/debt, and children” (Dubé, 2018).
As a relationship counsellor, you can help couples improve aspects of their relationship that they would like to address. To do this, you must build a trusting, open, and healthy rapport with them. Here’s how you can build the best possible counsellor-client relationship during relationship counselling.
As a Counselling Therapist, Show Compassion and Empathy at All Times
Empathy is often one of the most common components with which to foster positive changes in relationships during couples therapy (Schmidt & Gelhert, 2016). This is why it’s important to always be compassionate and empathetic with clients, so they know their concerns are being understood and heard (Selva, 2019).
Since counsellors in any scenario will encounter clients with all kinds of emotions and needs, it’s important to be empathetic and understanding, and be a very active listener (Martin, 2019). Relationship counselling is no different. By showing empathy for your clients, and listening carefully to both parties, you can not only build a strong, healthy relationship with them, but also establish yourself as someone they can trust.
Set Objectives with Your Clients During Relationship Counselling, and Act on Them
After you’ve assessed the needs and wants of your clients and understood the relationship issues they’ve been experiencing, the next step is to develop objectives for clients to work towards. (Swanson, 2014) Whether clients are in counselling because they’re experiencing communication issues, an affair, or other challenge, attainable goals in therapy need to be set (Schofield, Mumford, Jurkovic, Jurkovic, & Bickerdike, 2012).
Form strategies with your clients, and give them tools and/or assignments they can take away from the sessions and use with each other (Swanson, 2014). Once your next session comes, discuss their progress and how they found your suggested exercises helped them, as your clients’ success and satisfaction with these exercises can be an excellent measurement of your compatibility and effectiveness (Swanson, 2014).
Tailor Your Approach to Help Clients View Their Relationship More Objectively
Once you become a counselling therapist, you can help clients identify obstacles that may be preventing them from achieving the satisfaction and intimacy they would like from their relationship. Part of this involves helping clients view their relationship more objectively (Krauss Whitborne, 2012). Being able to help clients alter their perceptions and not immediately lay blame onto the other party when discussing problems can help improve communication and promote greater understanding (Krauss Whitborne, 2012).
By seeing clients interact with one another across multiple sessions, you can better understand the factors that may be affecting their relationship, how both parties view the relationship, and how they can improve relations with each other constructively. With the help of these observations, you can adapt sessions to the particular needs of your clients.
Do you want to attend a relationship counselling school?
Contact Rhodes Wellness College for more information about our programs.
Dubé, D.-E. (2018, January 4). More millennial couples are going to marriage counselling early on – here’s why. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/3945695/millennial-couples-marriage-counselling/
Hewison, D., Casey, P., & Mwamba, N. (2016). The effectiveness of couple therapy: Clinical outcomes in a naturalistic United Kingdom setting. Psychotherapy, 53(4), 377–387. doi: 10.1037/pst0000098
Krauss Whitborne, S. (2012, March 20). 5 Principles of Effective Couples Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201203/5-principles-effective-couples-therapy
Martin, A. (2019, April 7). Active Listening Skills. Retrieved from http://www.thecounsellorsguide.co.uk/active-listening-skills.html
Schmidt, C. D., & Gelhert, N. C. (2016). Couples Therapy and Empathy. The Family Journal, 25(1), 23–30. doi: 10.1177/1066480716678621
Schofield, M. J., Mumford, N., Jurkovic, D., Jurkovic, I., & Bickerdike, A. (2012). Short and long-term effectiveness of couple counselling: a study protocol. BMC Public Health, 12(1). doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-735
Selva, J. (2019, June 19). Understanding Empathy: What is it and Why is it Important in Counseling. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/empathy/
Swanson, A. (2014, April 28). How to Build a Trusting Counselor Patient Relationship. Retrieved from https://locktonmedicalliabilityinsurance.com/build-trusting-counselor-patient-relationship/