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Challenges in Counseling — Relationships

One of the problems that interferes with effective change and successful counseling is a willingness to look at your own problems, rather than blaming others. I do a great deal of couples counseling, and when both couples come in ready to look at themselves, and make changes, then the therapy is almost always successful, and the marriage restarts on a happier and healthier footing. However, there are times when someone comes in with the intention of sharing how awful their partner is and wants to share all the terrible ways he or she has treated them. I don’t allow this to continue for several reasons. 1. It’s ineffective towards making changes or fixing the relationship. 2. It’s abusive for the partner to sit and listen to all his/her faults, which I’m sure (s)he has heard a million times before. 3. I’ve heard the same complaints from others, and nothing is to be gained by rehashing their fights. 4. It takes time away from working productively on their relationship.

Relationships can only be fixed when each partner is ready and willing to work on getting help with their own problems and in improving their own communication skills. As long as the couple is intent on blaming the other, nothing changes. Relationship therapy requires the couple to start communicating. The old arguments being repeated over and over will never be solved until the two people return to being a couple and resume the communication style that they had when they decided to marry (or continue a serious relationship). If they never had effective communication skills, then it’s not too late to learn.