I get many phone calls from individuals who would love to attend couples counselling with their partners.
Of course, I also hear about the partner not being so keen! Partners not in the ‘therapy zone‘ feel that coming to a couples therapy session would either be a waste of time, or the most dangerous thing to do to a relationship already ‘on the edge.’
The second person is simply not willing to make the leap, whereas the first person already has – creating a further impasse to add to the initial problem!
We often say that the person keen to attend is trying to ‘drag’ the other person along, whereas the person being pressured is the ‘draguee.’
Draguee: “Why would you want to talk to a stranger about OUR problems?”
Draguer: “Why wouldn’t you want to make things better between us?!”
Both Draguer and Draguee have a point. Both are absolutely right. Both want to improve things but disagree on the best way to make that improvement. It’s important to try to understand one another whilst also expressing why you’re feeling the way you are about attending (or not, as the case may be!)
The top ten fears of attending couples counselling:
- I’ll be singled out as the ‘bad one’
- I’ll be blamed for all of our problems
- I won’t be able to express my side of it
- I won’t be understood and I’ll get angry or upset
- We’ll just be going over the same old things – what’s the point?
- My childhood was perfect/traumatic – I don’t need/want to dredge it up with a stranger
- It’ll highlight something that is much easier to push under the carpet and ignore
- Couples therapy is for people who are really failing
- It may lead to the break-up of our relationship
- It’s a waste of time and money
All of these reasons are perfectly understandable and perfectly valid. They are the same reasons that have been around for decades and have stopped many couples from making the leap to couples counselling. Some of those couples manage to resolve things in a different way instead, or just surrender to the way things are, whereas some don’t and decide to call it a day.
Are fears of couples counselling well-founded?
There are good reasons that Imago Relationship Therapy has become so popular and is so effective at getting to the root of problems and helping couples to work through those problems.
Here are an Imago Therapist’s answers to the fears mentioned earlier:
- There is NO ‘bad one’ – the therapist sees the relationship as the client and will not side with only one of the people in it
- There is no allowance for blame, shame or criticism – the facilitator will gently call you out on any of these
- You are given equal time to express feelings and needs (but never forced to express or meet the other’s needs before you are able and ready)
- Dialogues provide the tools you need to validate and understand the other – the aim isn’t to agree but to respect difference
- Imago provides a safe way of ‘going over old ground’ (wherever old ground is negatively affecting the present), making the emotional impact less disruptive each time
- We all unconsciously bring positives and negatives of our childhoods (the ‘Imago’ itself) into our adult relationships – it is both freeing and healing to fully understand when and how you do this and to learn to work with it
- It can feel easier to ignore problems, but pain and resentment don’t go away until fully explored and understood in a mutually respectful way
- Imago is for people who want to re-commit, establish a deeper connection and give the relationship its best chance
- If couples counselling leads to a relationship breakup, it will be because of a conscious decision made by the two people in that relationship after exploring all the options – Imago is not a break-up tool!
- Imago is an investment for the future – more and more couples are now doing Imago before and in the first years of commitment or marriage, in order to set up healthy habits for the long term
Despite the above, the theory and techniques of Imago can still be applied in individual counselling sessions to explore and become curious about relationship dynamics and what they may be pointing to.
You are welcome to book an appointment for yourself only and take the first step in exploring what your experiences in relationship mean, as well as understanding what you can do on your own before attending as a couple.
Contact me here with any further questions. Thanks for reading!