Client: hello, my partner and I are interested in couples counselling
Me: I’m glad you guys are looking for some support – that takes courage. What’s led you to seek counselling?
Client: hmmmm it’s hard to put into words….ummmm….I guess communication….
Communication difficulties are cited by 90% of people who contact me for couples counselling. Couples know that something isn’t working and can give me lots of examples of communication going sideways. While hearing about the content of their conflicts is a starting place, in order for insight and change to occur it’s necessary to go deeper and that takes some dedicated work. How does each person view conflict? What is happening in her/his nervous system? How was conflict handled in his/her family of origin? How well can each person regulate his/her own emotions?
Conflict is a natural and needed part of building and maintaining an intimate relationship. So the goal isn’t to get rid of conflict but to help couples to find ways of engaging in and repairing conflict in order to increase feelings of safety, connection, and intimacy. That can sometimes feel like a tall order! But luckily there are lots of amazing tools and strategies for helping people change how they communicate.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to talk about some of the tools the couples I work with have found particularly useful: Stop-Replay, Regulating your Nervous System, and Emotional Bids.