Sunday, April 9, 2017

Every 8 months whether I need to or not..... Also couples counseling.

Here we are in April.  I will turn 51 soon.  I'm certainly feeling many of the shifts that seem to come with this age.  I am lower energy, I have less concentration, I don't learn as easily, etc. But on the plus side, I find that I am less and less concerned with pleasing other people.  I have fewer effs to give, if you will forgive the expression.  The field in which I grow them is barren as they say.

I am lowering my hours at Capital Area Counseling, which continues to be a wonderful place to learn and get experience with kinds of therapies and kinds of clients I haven't encountered before.  I may take on some couples at Capital Area Counseling to get some experience with them under my belt.  I have counseled many individuals on relationship issues, but helping a couple is an animal all its own.

To orient anyone who may be reading, when we therapists counsel a couple or a family, there is a way in which our client is none of the individuals involved, but the relationship itself.  The point is to help that relationship become more functional.  Many come to couples counseling looking for a therapist to be "on their side" or to "fix their spouse" - but this is not what you are going to get from most therapists. Even if after sufficient experience with a couple, we may privately think that one or the other members is behaving in the most problematic ways, that is not something we would probably bring into the therapy room or into the relationship with the couple.  The more relevant question than "Who is at fault?" is "How can this relationship heal itself and thrive?" and that almost always involves effort and skill building on all sides.

If you are approaching your relationship as a question of "my partner either fixes this list of things about themselves or I'm out of here" then you might as well call it quits.  Human relationships are hard.  You have to learn to deal with what is in front of you - not the thing you wish you had.

Still - if this is how you feel - I encourage you to seek counseling for yourself and for your relationship rather than quitting.  It might be possible to shift your perspective to see your challenges in a new way.  It might be possible for you and your partner to learn new skills that will shift your experience and make that list irrelevant.

All of this is about relatively safe relationships - not abuse.  That's a topic for another day. If you think you are being abused, please seek help, and if necessary sanctuary and physical escape.

In any case - you can see that relationship counseling isn't just about educating a partner who is at fault on the error of their ways.  It is about building new relationship habits and new skills to cope with the places in your life that the relationship isn't working. This is almost always something both partners need to work on.  Feel like your partner is too aggressive?  Maybe you are being too passive in response.  Feel like your partner is overly emotional?  Maybe you are relying too much on logic and failing to offer the emotional responses your partner needs.  Its usually two-sided, a dance the both of you have created and are having trouble finding a way to change.  That's when you need help - just someone to look at your steps from the outside and help you try new things.

I have slots available on weekends and throughout the week, including convenient evening hours for the real working schedules people have.  Give me a call or an email and lets get to work.