Last week I wrote about counselling for individuals so this week I want to run through how I deliver couples counselling Stockport.
Couples counselling Stockport
Couples or marriage counselling is a field that I have a great deal of experience and training in. It’s also something that I really enjoy doing. I’m afraid I’m one of a small number of therapists that feel this way about couples work. Many of my therapy colleagues dislike and actively stay away from couples therapy and if you look at how the average therapist is trained to work with couples it’s easy to understand why.
Why are there so few therapists offering couples counselling Stockport?
Most therapists undergo a formal training in order to become qualified. This usually consists of 100 hours of therapy training for 4 years – 400 hours in total. On top of this trainee therapists gain practise “on the job” and often have CPD in areas of therapy that they are interested in. Out of these 400 hours, I spent 7 dealing specifically with couples and how to work with them. That’s less than 2% of my total formal training dedicated to couples.
When I started practicing as a therapist I decided that I would take the plunge and work with couples. There was something exciting about the idea and I wanted to help as many groups of people as I could. Within two or three sessions I had no doubt that I needed a good model to support me in this work.
Why I felt I needed to get in depth training for marriage counselling.
Picture if you will a couple arguing heatedly on the sofa before me whilst I looked on in amazement and complete uncertainty of what to do or how to intervene! I had a problem of numbers. I had been trained to work effectively with one person but in front of me there was two. What’s more, these two people did not seem to like each other very much and were inviting me at every opportunity to decide which of them was right. They wanted me to be judge and juror to their marriage and I had no desire to be either.
Feeling so impotent and useless as a therapist only armed with a model aimed at individuals was a horrible feeling. I went on a mission to find some quality training as a couple’s therapist. This was also not an easy task. For whatever reason, there seems to be a shocking lack of provision to train therapists to work with couples in the UK. Maybe this is a reflection of the perceived lack of demand, or the belief that Relate has it all sawn up, I’m not sure, but it took me a good while to find a course that I liked the look of and gave me the training I so seriously needed.
Imago Relationship Therapy
The training I went for was Imago Relationship Therapy. Imago Relationship Therapy is a modality of therapy with couples work at its heart. Individuals can have Imago Relationship Therapy but it is primarily designed for couples. It is a theory of how couples choose each other and what they need to do to “get the love they want”.
Imago Relationship Therapy is big in the States and has some heavy weight celebrities promoting its effectiveness including Alanis Morrisette and Oprah Winfrey, who rated the interview she did with Harville Hendrix, the founder of Imago Relationship Therapy, as one of her all-time top ten favourites (catch it here if you want to see what she was on about).
I studied Imago Relationship Therapy for a year, over 100 hours of some of the best training I have ever had. The training gave me a great model to use when working with couples and removed any fear that I had about being impotent. Now when working with couples I know exactly what I am doing and am sure that the Imago Relationship model has something positive to offer them. I see the Imago theory as a great way to revolutionise the way a relationship can be had and have seen the impact it has had on many, many couples I have worked with.
Do all couples benefit from marriage guidance?
Not that every couple that comes to me leaves holding hands and skipping into the sunset! Unfortunately some couples seek therapy far too late and years of bitter resentments and emotional wounds prove too big to heal. Sometimes these couples decide to separate. Even in these situations I see the decision to seek therapy as a positive one. It may take a couple of hours of therapy for some couples to realise that they are just not prepared to put in the effort needed to change their relationship and they would rather separate.
This brings me on to the next truth about couples counselling Stockport. If you want to change the way you relate to your partner then you are going to have to do things differently. As Albert Einstein famously said, a good definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Get ready to put in some work
Imago Relationship Therapy gives you a new way of connecting with your partner. It will demand effort and energy both during the therapy sessions and back in everyday life. I’m convinced it can be a catalyst to change and that it provides a safe, structured way to connect with your partner and start listening to what they have to say.
Lastly, I want to say that there are other methods of Couples counselling out there. There is the more traditional model of therapist on one side and couple on the other. The couple talk to the therapist individually about what’s going on for them in the relationship whilst the other partner listens. At some stages the therapist may encourage the couple to talk to each other and act as a mediator. This is very different to Imago and the way that I work. If you come to me for couple’s therapy then within two or three sessions (once you have learnt the Imago Dialogue process) the amount that you hear from me has trailed off to about 10 minutes per session spread over the hour. You will talk to your partner and use the structure of Imago Dialogue to do this. There is no one more important in the room. My job will be to help you to do this by gently nudging you in the right direction now and again. I am also there to keep the dialogue safe so both partners can really hear each other and are not feeling defensive or under attack.
What’s your experience with couple’s therapy? Have you got a question about how I work? Please comment under this post about your ideas and feelings around this topic.
Thanks for reading and you can email me at couples counselling Stockport by using my contact form.