In my life before becoming a counsellor, I raised three children, and worked in industry. I understand the practical realities of life, as well as the emotional side.
I was drawn to this work because of my own parents’ break-up, which left them both sad and hurt. Despite that, I don’t think that staying together is always the right answer. And being in a relationship isn’t necessarily right for everyone.
Being in a relationship that isn’t working, though, is the worst of both worlds: all the problems of being with someone, without the benefits. It can be really frustrating when small things cause conflicts that can’t seem to be discussed reasonably, and you can’t say what you really feel. It also has a knock-on effect on children when their parents argue. People sometimes don’t realise how children pick up on the mood in the household.
My approach is to help each partner to hear what the other is really saying. I help couples to understand and communicate how they are feeling, explore the patterns of their communication, and look at actions they can take to make things better.
This doesn’t involve any blaming, or deciding who is right or wrong. There is no siding with one person, and I am not going to make your decisions for you or tell you how to live your lives. It requires each to take responsibility. I can be very calm and persistent with couples. At times there can be laughter in the room, too.
Couple counselling is a very different process from individual counselling or therapy. In individual counselling, the counsellor will be giving you the space to work out your own thoughts and feelings, and will be focused on your point of view. In couple work, the counsellor has to remain neutral, and bring together two different points of view, in a much more active way. It can involve challenge as well as support and sympathy. I recommend you to look for a counsellor who specialises in couple work. It’s not about superficial advice like “arrange a date night every week”. It’s about how you know your partner really is there for you, practically and emotionally. (See this excellent article for more about this).
Many counsellors have sessions of 50 minutes or an hour. I prefer to have slightly longer sessions of 70 minutes for couples, as I have found it works better.
I trained with The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and The Relate Institute. I currently also see clients at Relate.
Every year, I take courses and workshops in order to stay up to date with the latest thinking. This has included Emotion Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT) for which I continue to have ongoing training. I am a member of the British EFT Community (BEFT) and the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT).
I have also done six days training with Andy Austin in Metaphors of Movement, a fascinating approach to language and how we talk about our difficulties.
I am a registered member of BACP and am bound by their code of ethical conduct. This includes requirements for proper training, professional supervision, ongoing update training, and insurance.
I am also a member of Relate's register of professional counsellors. Relate is the largest UK organisation dedicated to providing couple counselling. It was previously known as the Marriage Guidance Council.