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Allan Kelly Text number - 07520 633 111
Relationship Counselling

Relationship Counselling

5 essentials for relationship counselling to work

In my work with couples I have found that 5 essentials need to be in place for relationship counselling to work. And when relationship counselling works it can be amazingly successful transforming even the most dysfunctional relationship!

This is what you need…

1. Goodwill. Both partners need to have goodwill for the other – the more goodwill the better. This means that both need to approach the counselling process positively looking for a good outcome. A good outcome means understanding the relationship and how it operates, repairing parts of the relationship that have broken down and looking to develop the relationship into one that is vibrant, alive, fulfilling, nurturing and mutually nourishing. Both partners need to be prepared to look deep into themselves to consider what part they are prepared to own in the relationship not being successful, not giving them what they want or need. It means each partner considering what changes they are prepared to make and whether they can let go of past hurts and retained resentments. It can sometimes mean letting the other person go and ending the relationship in a decent civilised way.

2. Commitment. Both partners need to be committed to the process. It’s no good thinking you can drag your partner along to see the relationship counsellor if they are not committed to the relationship and/or counselling as a method of improving things. Relationship counselling is not easy. It requires commitment in terms of time, money, energy and emotions. It’s not a cheap, quick fix.  Owning up to our own shortcomings, failings and mistakes is not easy, it’s much easier to blame the other. Hearing difficult stuff about ourselves and being able to own it is not easy.  Coming to understand where some of our behaviours come from is not easy. Yet all of this and more is required for couples counselling to work.

3.  The ability to compromise. A deal is a process of give and take. Couples counselling is no different. For it to work both parties need to be able to give as well as take. That’s what a compromise is. A nice definition of love is ‘putting the other person’s needs first’. And in relationship counselling that is essential. For example…What can you do for her? How can I help him?

4. Energy. How much energy does each of you have to make your relationship better? Are you prepared to invest the time, money and emotion to transform it into something nourishing, rewarding and fulfilling. Relationships are dynamic, they keep changing and evolving – just like life and people. If you do nothing with your relationship, don’t invest in it, chances are that it won’t give you much of a return.

5. Honesty and openness. Are you able to say and hear some difficult things about yourself, your partner and your roles in the relationship? Are you willing to be open and honest about yourself, your feelings and your actions? If there is a third party involved, can you be honest about that and discuss it in counselling? Can you discuss sexual matters and/or problems in counselling? How do you feel about working with a male counsellor?

My role as relationship counsellor is that of facilitator. I am not a judge. It is not my role to make one partner stay in the relationship if they don’t want to. Sometimes a better outcome can be for a couple to separate, to each go their own way. If that’s the choice, individual counselling can help process the loss. My role is to facilitate the couple understanding what the real issues are, where they come from and what needs to change if the relationship is to improve. Real lasting change takes hard work.

Now for the good news. When relationship counselling works it can be amazingly successful!


Allan Kelly

Registered Member MBACP (Snr Accred)

updated Sept 2013