About Counselling

An Allegory for Couples Considering Counselling

Something I hear quite often in couple counselling is:

“We want our relationship to be how it used to be”.

This statement is actually about loss: the couple’s relationship is in a place that’s far away from the (supposedly happier) experience that the couple used to enjoy, and they are comparing now with how things used be.

The thing is: couple counselling provides no way for a couple to go back in time… and the hurt and conflicts that have brought the couple to me for counselling cannot be erased or forgotten.

The following allegory is a lovely way of suggesting a couple’s beginning in couple counselling:-


“Grab a plate and throw it on the ground.”

– Okay, done.

“Did it break?”

– Yes.

“Now say sorry to it.”

– Sorry.

“Did it go back to the way it was before?”

– No.

Do you understand?

… because couples who complete their work in counselling, and who have decided to stay together, have often commented that their relationship is in a different place to how it was before counselling – and how different the place is from the place that they’d originally wanted to return.

Rather like what the Japanese call kintsukuroi (“golden repair”).


To learn more about couple counselling – click hereclick here.

Couple Relationships

“It’s him that’s the problem, not me!”

What Couple Counselling Cannot Achieve On Your Behalf.

This is a brief comment – based upon many experiences of new couples coming into counselling for the first time – and is more about emotional conflicts between couples (as to actual physical harm, which comes more under heading of law than therapy).

Here it is … are you ready … this is it:
     No-one can be changed in order to suit you.

There … that was a couple counsellor’s wisdom (perhaps).

Denial of Participation.

You see, a common situation that couples bring into counselling “it’s my partner that’s the problem.  If he/she would only just change then we will be happy.”

Let me reword that comment: “I am not part of this relationship’s problem; this is solely the responsibility of that person sitting there, not me.  I believe that I am not a part of this problem being created or existing, so I will have no part in its resolution.”

True? A little harsh? Real?

I wonder where has the relationship gone when someone announces that they are not part of a relationship’s conflicts. From a systemic point of view, every member of a relationship has an influence over events (whether they are aware of it or not).

So, a person cannot be changed on your behalf.  You cannot bring your partner into counselling and ask the counsellor to change the partner for you.  As much as you desire it, it is not going to happen.  That will be loss for you … but all is not lost.

Acceptance of Participation.

There are two options to consider from this point:-

Option 1) You can make a request of another person to consider altering their behaviour.  That person can choose to comply to your request, decline it, or negotiate further with you (they may not understand their impact on you, for example). After all, you may be a participant in the problem beginning.

Option 2) You can separate from each other (“can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people that you choose to be around”).


Couple counselling can be a very effective way to work through insurmountable relationship conflicts … and a good couple counsellor will also help you work through loss & disappointment when you discover that what you want to be achieved cannot be done so in the way you want it to be (“It’s all his fault….”).