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Blog » October 2016 » Inside A Marriage Counselling Session

October 2016

Inside A Marriage Counselling Session

Inside a Marriage Counselling Session

(c) 2016 Phoebe Hutchison
Author / Counsellor / Public Speaker

Have you started losing faith in your relationship? Are you constantly fighting, or avoiding confrontation, and filled with resentment? Are you unsure of how to get back to how ‘it was’ at the start? Many couples cannot ‘fix’ their relationship alone. So, why not seek a little professional help? As a marriage and crisis counsellor, it is my honor to help couples reconnect and become happy again. Helping couples fall back in love is one of the greatest joys in my life. Now, let’s get to work...

What are your issues?

When you arrive at my office at Bairnsdale Natural Health, I offer you a seat on my ‘love couch’, and a cuppa, and discuss confidentiality. I need to get to know you both, so I’ll ask about your: lifestyle, work hours, weekly commitments, children (and any parenting struggles), and/or pets. What has caused you to seek help now? What are the issues? I’ll determine your level of independence, how much time you devote to each other, how you treat each other, how you feel about each other, how your sex life is, and if there have been any physical or emotional affairs.
Are you in safe?
I document any signs of: depression (including any suicidal thinking), anxiety, grief and loss, other mental health disorders, addiction or escapism (drugs, alcohol, prescription medication, spending, porn, gambling or workaholism). I check for control issues, such as the cycle of power and control, verbal abuse or physical abuse. I often do a Crisis Wheel Checklist from my 2nd book, Are You LIstening? LIfe is Talking to You, if I feel either of you are not coping with life. In this checklist, I ask about your: thoughts, self esteem, loss or traumas, emotions, diet and exercise, support networks, hobbies, finances and the way you feel about your daily activities. Your personal safety always comes first.
What are your communication patterns?
I lookout for any of these ten patterns:
The Competitive couple,
The Fight over Facts couple,
The Dominating versus the Submissive partner,
The Flip couple (He is emotionally needy, and she is logical/feeling smothered),
The Emotionally Distant partner (one partner is only there in body, not mind),
The Cat and Dog couple (Highly argumentative couple),
Triangulation (Two people against one, such as parent and child against the other partner),
The Grieving partner (who may either withdraw, or become frequently angered),
One partner puts children first, other partner withdraws,
Or The Spontaneous versus The Highly Structured partner.

I establish who has resentment, and who would benefit with assertiveness training.
(Often deep subconscious work, such as Brainspotting, works well in correcting long term ‘mental blocks’ such as avoiding conflict)?  
How do you argue?
How do you argue, and how often? What are your styles? Does one partner run? Is there a ‘silent treatment giver’ in the house? Do either of you yell, swear, or intimidate the other? Do you believe that no arguments is the best policy, and therefore not argue? If you happen to start an argument in session, I watch closely, for a moment; I am a ‘relationship detective’ after all; I watch, listen, and notice subtle clues to help solve the mystery of your relationship. Every interaction, every gesture, from body language, to facial expressions, helps me interpret your relationship strengths and weaknesses.

What was your childhood like?

How was your childhood? Was it happy or difficult? What challenges can you remember? How do you view your parent’s relationship? How did they communicate and manage conflict? What did you possibly unconsciously learn from them that is impacting your relationship today? How does your communication style differ to theirs?
What are your relationship goals?

I use Solution Focused Therapy to establish your goals for therapy. If I waved a magic wand over your relationship, and you woke tomorrow and your relationship was exactly as you want, how would it be, different to how it is today? What would the differences be? This forms your goal. When asked this question, many clients say, ‘To be happy.’ Others want ‘fireworks’, and say, ‘To have romance, dating, and to fall in love again.’  Many clients simply want, ‘Peace. To get along well’. Clear goals are vital to relationship success.

Why is homework so vital?

You will receive ‘tailor made homework’ every session, so you can improve your relationship immediately. As an author of two self help books, Honeymooners Forever, Twelve Step Marriage Survival Guide (Marriage Guide), and Are You Listening, Life is Talking to You (Life Guide), I equip you with specific tools to transform not only your relationship, but your life! I will also use any of the following counselling techniques: Solution Focused Therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), Gestalt Therapy, Behaviour Therapy, Grief Therapy, Relationship Therapy, Brainspotting (Deep Subconscious Therapy), Parenting of Teenagers, Mindfulness, as well as help you with issues such as: anxiety, depression, low self esteem, pessimism, anger issues, workaholism, addiction, communication issues or disconnection, as required.

What do I promise?

I promise I’ll make everything as easy as possible. I can’t promise that you will laugh at my jokes, but they should help you feel more relaxed. I promise I will ask intrusive, and sometimes embarrassing, questions, as thorough assessment is vital to ensure relevant strategies can be given fast. I promise that most of the couples I work with are able to resolve presenting issues within 6 sessions (with the exception of complications such as: affairs, mental health issues, or recovery from separation; as these issues take longer). I promise my diagnosis is thorough, to ensure the homework and strategies are simple. I promise you simple solutions, so you are not overwhelmed. I promise I will treat you both equally, and with love, and respect.
Why am I so passionate about saving marriages? I saved my own failing marriage twenty years ago, and I have been saving marriages ever since. Thousands of relationships have been healed and transformed using the Honeymooners Forever Strategy, and there is no reason why yours should be any different.
Ms Hutchison will be giving a ‘Revitalize your Relationship’ seminar on 17th October at The Bairnsdale Club from 7pm to 9pm. (Tickets $45 each. www.areyoulistening.com.au). Seminar Topics: Couple Patterns, Improving Communication and Conflict Management. All couples attending will receive a free copy of Honeymooners Forever, Twelve Step Marriage Survival Guide, plus handouts.

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