Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What is Marriage Guidance?

What is Marriage Guidance?

Marriage Guidance occurs when a romantic couple (straight or gay) choose to seek the help of an expert 3rd party to help them address underlying issues in their relationship, which is negatively affecting their lives.  Sessions will generally focus on communication and improving it within the relationship.  Relationship counsellors are communication and intimacy experts and will provide you with ways of improving these 2 things within your relationship.

How can I improve communication and intimacy within my relationship?

At the start of the session the counsellor will make sure that you are ‘warmed up’ towards the process.  They will want to make sure that you are ready to communicate with your partner.  Very few people will come to the session completely warmed up and ready to communicate.  At the start of the session, oftentimes a therapist will use a psychodramatic method, focusing on group dynamics within the room to warm both parties up and prepare them for the session.  One common method is for each party to look at the other person and hypothesise what they may be thinking and feeling at that particular moment in time.  At this point in the process, spontaneity is encouraged.  Then the therapist will ask the other person to respond and to either confirm or deny whether they are thinking or feeling these things.

At these early stages in the process, the therapist is encouraging both parties to bring themselves forward.  In relationships, there is a tendency for people not to do this and wait for the other person to bring themselves forward.  When this situation occurs, oftentimes communication is stifled.  The human mind is constantly thinking and making judgements of situations.  Oftentimes these judgements are sub-conscious.  For example, “Mary doesn’t like me” or “Bill is being really aggressive tonight.”  Bringing yourself forward involves making these thoughts or judgement about the other person or yourself public and then allowing the other person to respond.
Once the therapist in convinced that both parties are sufficiently warmed up then they will start the formalised process.

What does the process involve?

Marriage counselling focuses on underlying issues and bringing out each parties response to them and making public what they have been thinking or feeling, relevant to the issue.  Both partners will be physically facing each other and the relationship counsellor will facilitate the session.  Their job is to ensure that parties are communicating not only intellectually but also emotionally about underlying issues.  Oftentimes couples will be stuck in either defending their actions or blaming the other person.  This is not helpful towards the process.  The therapist is interested in both parties explaining where they are coming from in relation to an issue but doesn’t want them to defend themselves.

As parties start to talk about their personal issues, the therapist will be very mindful of moments of connection and body language.  Oftentimes they will make comments or observations as if the other person isn’t in the room.  For example, “Mary, Bill is feeling a lot right now, even though he is finding it difficult to show it to you.”  This will encourage parties to continue to open up to the other person and increase their vulnerability.  The way that we communicate in a marriage counselling session is not typical and both parties need continual prodding and encouragement.

The therapist will also coach parties at significant moments during the session of how to respond to what has just been spoken about.  For example, Party A may have revealed that they are scared of losing Party B and don’t have social support from anyone else in their life.  But they may take 10 minutes to fully explain this point.  After 2 minutes Party A may try and explain their point of view thinking that Party A has finished talking.  A skilled therapist needs to stop Party B from talking and allow Party A to finish making their point.  Or after Party A has finished making their point the therapist may instruct party B to reassure them or to hold their hand or to say nothing at all.
Two key communication skills that the therapist will ensure that both parties do continuously throughout the process is (1) reassure each other (2) tell the other person what they understand by what has just been said.  These are both listening skills but extremely affective.  Reassurance is probably the most important communication skill.  When people have problems in a relationship they are at an extremely vulnerable point and desperately need reassurance.

How do you know when an issue has been successfully resolved?

Intuition plays a very important role because there is no objective way of knowing when an issue has been resolved.  Ultimately, the therapist will be able to feel it in the air.  Sometimes it will be when both parties have said all they want to say or when there is a greater connection in the room.  Other times it will be when strong emotion (e.g., crying) comes out.  Ultimately there is an “ahh ha” moment where something clicks for both parties.  Once an issue has been successfully resolved the therapist has to be very mindful of both parties ruining the moment by going back to their old communication dynamics.  For example, one party may attempt to go back to their blaming or going over old ground.  If this happens it is up to the therapist to jump in and stop this from occurring.  Usually at this point, this is a very good time to end the session and it allows parties to leave the session with momentum, which is very important during the process.
Once the session has ended, it is very important that no analysis or small talk happens as this will detract from the session.  At this point both parties will be processing a lot and normal social norms do not apply.

If you are wanting to find out more about relationship counselling Brisbane please visit my web-site at  Mark Korduba Marriage Guidance Brisbane or  http://markkordubapsychologist.com/relationship-counselling-brisbane-northside/ You can also call  us on 3857 3777 to make an appointment.
To read more about surviving heartbreak you can click here: http://survivingheartbreakbrisbane.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/surviving-heartbreak-how-relationship.html