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What Is Relationship Counseling?

Marriage counseling is a type of relationship counseling, but it’s far from the only type. There is pre-marital counseling, for couples who want to take that next step but find something is holding them back. There is couples counseling for couples who know they are not ready to get married, but still want to be together and maintain a healthy union. Relationships that can benefit from counseling do not even have to be romantic. Business partners, siblings and even best friends may benefit from relationship counseling.

Relationship counseling occurs when two people find that the behavior patterns of interacting that have been effective throughout the relationship, or that they believed had been effective, are no longer working, or they finally realize that they have never really worked. The counselor works to find out what those negative behavior patterns are, how they arose, and how they can be corrected.

Who Can Benefit?

Can you benefit from relationship counseling? If you are struggling to get along with someone who you used to be quite close to, relationship counseling may be for you. In today’s world, with all the choices available to us and all the stresses that affect our lives, maintaining healthy relationships can be a challenge, but we are fortunate in that there are trained counselors out there who can help.

How Does Relationship Counseling Work?

People often find themselves in relationships that are pathological, that is, that are in some way unhealthy. It may be unhealthy for the person to be in the relationship at all, or it may simply be that the dynamics of the relationship are unhealthy. The relationship counselor is an objective observer that helps the couple decide if it is healthy for them to be in a relationship at all, and if it is, how they can correct behavior patterns that have made it so that this potentially healthy relationship is no longer working.

The counselor will often carry out this work by encouraging each member of the relationship to talk about the underlying feelings regarding their actions, and by asking the other member to listen to and validate those feelings before sharing their own. The more effectively the couple can do this, the better they will become at recognizing the types of behavior that draws them into a cycle of conflict, and the more able they will become to short-circuit those negative behavior cycles and replace them with positive ones.

It may take a considerable amount of time for relationship counseling to be fully effective. Those who come to seek professional counseling for their issues should remember that they are trying to unlearn behavior patterns and coping mechanisms that they spent lifetimes learning, and breaking those patterns is no easy task. However, once the counseling reaches its conclusion, the couple will ideally have learned to be more supportive, caring, and have a generally happier, healthier and more satisfying relationship, whether it is romantic or otherwise.