Working with couples ~ our co-counselling approach

Are you wanting to improve or enhance your relationship? Perhaps you and your partner are at a crossroads where your future as a couple seems uncertain. Maybe you’re considering separating or divorce? Are you feeling hurt, disconnected, stuck, lonely, sad, overwhelmed, misunderstood, frustrated, angry or scared? Are you struggling to communicate, manage conflicts or difficult emotions, heal from loss of trust, establish healthy boundaries, manage family issues, or adapt to change, life events or transitions?

When it comes to couples counselling, I work in partnership (co-counselling) with my colleague, counselling practitioner Rachel Bailey.

Through our years of experience, we’ve found that 2 therapists (instead of one) offer great advantages to couples seeking help as it creates a unique and balanced dynamic ensuring equality and compassion for both partners. It avoids the ‘dreaded’ triangulation (where one partner feels ganged up on, blamed, alienated or left out) and enables both partners to feel understood, valued and supported.

Rachel and I work pluralistically, meaning we draw on a wide range of evidence based therapeutic interventions (including CBT, emotion focused, solution focused, experiential, psychodynamic and systems theory) to fit the unique relational needs of the couples and families that we work with.

Your initial appointment will provide you with the opportunity to share your concerns and together, we will discuss, explore, and develop a plan of action or therapeutic process best suited to your specific needs, wishes and goals.

Our approach creates a caring, collaborative dynamic providing opportunities for one therapist to develop and follow a line of questioning or exploration whilst the other offers observations, insight, feedback, and support. We have also found that two heads are better than one, allowing us to combine and share our knowledge, skills and expertise with the couples and families we work with.

Together, Rachel and I provide a fair, safe and supportive experience for our clients, sharing our combined knowledge, experience, resources, and creativity to fit every couple and family’s unique relational needs.

We offer online couples counselling via zoom. Each appointment lasts approximately 60 minutes. If beneficial, we may offer individual sessions to both partners with a focus on the relationship.

 

The benefits of online couple counselling

A surprise discovery for us during the Covid pandemic has been that online counselling is as effective as face-to-face counselling when working with couples. Our own experience of working with couples online and the positive feedback we have received from clients is supported by recent research. In addition to the obvious benefits for couples of accessibility and the convenience of having therapy in their own home we are learning that there are also therapeutic advantages. These include privacy, safety and flexibility (Maier et al 2021) as well as increased articulation of personal experience which aids emotional regulation and reduced intensity where there is conflict (Burgoyne and Coen 2020). For these reasons, we have decided to focus primarily on providing online couples appointments.

 
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Rachel has over 15 years of experience working therapeutically within the NHS, voluntary and private sectors in the UK and U.S. She has a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from Syracuse University, USA and specialises in Family Systems and Brief Strategic Therapy.  Systemic therapy helps couples move away from unhelpful, sometimes destructive patterns of communication, towards an understanding of their partner’s perspectives and feelings.  It considers the impact that children, families of origin and extended families have on the couple. Rachel also provides counselling for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  She is registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and a member of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).