Counselling for Relationship Problems

In my experience, almost all counselling involves some kind of work on relationship issues. No matter what a client's presenting issues are in the initial sessions - in some way the issues will be related to how they affect the person's relationships. 

A relational style of counselling helps because it constitutes the basic requirements of a healthy relationship. It recognises the need to make some psychological connection, for people to just be themselves, to accept others for who they are, and to dialogue in an open, honest and authentic way. 

Therapy can be seen to be a microcosm of a client's world outside of the therapy room and the counsellor can help a client to learn about themselves in the therapeutic relationship, which will be helpful for their relationships outside of counselling. Honest, deep and meaningful relationships are often established in the therapeutic space, which clients learn how to transfer to other, more significant relationships.  

A transformational process can occur in relational therapy whereby the client finds themselves more able to identify and feel their feelings, to accept themselves for who they really are, to take responsibility for themselves and let others take responsibility for themselves, to identify their own needs and wants and how to communicate these to others, and to locate their own valuing process within themselves instead of relying on others. 

Relational work is often difficult as clients try and work out who they are and what they really think and feel, especially when they have spent a lifetime of acting a certain way in order to please others or fit with others' agendas.

Sometimes things get worse before they get better as clients go through the pain of a realisation that they have been living a lie and they struggle to claim their own identity. Clients might even have to let go of relationships when they know they are unhealthy, harmful or toxic for them.

This kind of work on relational issues is worth the struggle so that we can learn how to be oneself in authentic relationships - where we are able to communicate openly and honestly about our thoughts and feelings and about what we need and want from another person. Only then can we have happy, healthy connections with other human beings - and that is priceless.