What is relationship counselling and who is it for?

Counselling is a place where people can talk about things that are troubling them in a way that they feel listened to without being judged.

Every individual is unique and deserves personal respect. Since every individual is unique, so is every relationship. What works for one couple does not necessarily work for all couples. This is why we do not judge people, we do not criticise them, we do not take sides between a couple and we do not tell them what they should do.

We welcome to ACCORD Dublin people who are single, married, separated, divorced or living together. The common theme that clients have is that they want to work on improving their relationships. How we relate to each other can affect every part of our lives. Sometimes it is the relationship with ourselves that needs to be looked at and counselling can help us learn to be kinder to ourselves and kinder to each other. The way our counsellors facilitate this is by creating a safe, empathic environment.

What are the type of things that people want to talk about in counselling?

Communication is the number one issue for people in relationship counselling.  Sometimes people have different communication styles and this can cause problems. For example, some people might be very good at saying how they feel whereas others might show how they feel in different ways through acts of kindness, physical touch or just giving of their time. A counselling session can help highlight these different ways that people communicate and help us appreciate the differences in ourselves and each other.

Conflict is often a symptom of poor communication and the counsellor can give a couple or an individual tools to use to help them manage their arguments in a better way. It is normal to have disagreements in relationships; what matters is HOW we manage them. When couples come to relationship counselling they won’t necessarily eliminate all disagreements but they can learn to argue better in a less defensive or reactive way. It can be as simple as agreeing to having a “cooling off” period where each person agrees to have a time out to give themselves and each other a chance to calm down if they feel that things are escalating to being out of control. Our relationship counsellors are also trained to assess for abusive behaviours and will put the appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure client safety at all times while counselling is taking place

Intimacy, sexual issues and affairs are all issues that can come up for people in the counselling room. No relationship can be considered to be immune to the possibility of an affair or close friendship arising with a third party. Counsellors are trained to work with these issues sensitively and confidentially.  Communication and intimacy are linked and so it is important to look at both of these areas together. If people feel embarrassed talking about these things the counsellor will gently support them to feel more at ease. People can have affairs for different reasons so it can be useful to look at how the relationship was before the affair happened and consider what type of stresses people may have experienced up until this point. Trust can be re-established and relationships can be rebuilt after affairs if both partners commit to working towards that goal.

Money. It has been said that “when money goes out the window, love flies out the door” or “you cannot survive on love alone”. For couples, money can be a tricky subject and the type of upbringing a person has had will often influence the way they spend or save money. It is often a topic that is neglected in the early stages of a relationship but being married or co-habiting is in some respects  like having a business partnership – and it is important the business partners have the same goals even if they go about things a bit differently. Counselling can provide a safe space for people to explore their differences and come to agreements that suit both individuals.

Family problems. There is no such thing as the perfect family and what goes for one family may seem strange to another. When people form new relationships they have to learn to accept these differences. For example, one partner might think it is completely natural to spend every Sunday with their parents for dinner whereas the other partner might be horrified at the thought. Relationship counselling helps couples acknowledge that they have done things differently in the past but that going forward they can reach a compromise that is acceptable to both people.

Parenting can also be challenging whether you are a couple or a lone parent. Social media brings a whole new set of problems in modern life. It can be addictive both for teenagers and for adults and people are now resorting to professional help for support in dealing with this specific problem.

Separation and Divorce. While nobody gets married with the intention of getting divorced, unfortunately it happens. Whether it is an amicable separation or a difficult one, divorce is considered to be the second most stressful event a person may experience in their lifetime (number one being the death of a spouse or partner). For this reason it is important that people get support while they are going through this difficult time. Counselling can definitely help and clients can attend as a couple or come on their own.

Self-esteem, anxiety or stress. All of these issues can  impact on how we relate to others. Counselling is one way of learning how to live well and cope better with the obstacles we encounter along the way. The person-centred approach used by ACCORD Dublin counsellors means clients can gain a greater sense of personal fulfilment over time.

Enquire directly with your nearest centre