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  • Writer's pictureAntonia Higgins

Relationship Counselling? How does that work then?

Have you heard of relationship counselling? You may have heard of ‘marriage counselling, ‘couple counselling’ or ‘marriage guidance’, which have all been ways that this type of counselling has been described over the years. These descriptions are a bit of a misnomer, because they focus on one very specific type of relationship and discount the many other relationships that could benefit from those in them having space and time to explore the dynamics and issues that are feeling difficult together.

What is relationship counselling?

Relationship counselling is a space where two or more people speak together with their counsellor to work through difficulties in their relationship. These might be big, make-or-break issues or smaller, more minor ruptures that have gone unresolved over years, or communication difficulties and misunderstandings. Counselling helps those in the relationship work towards understanding the problems and predicaments that are making the relationship difficult.

How does counselling help a relationship?

When you're in the thick of something difficult or painful in a relationship it can be hard to see how the ruptures can be repaired. And it can be difficult to understand how they happen and why they keep happening. You can't see the wood for the trees. Relationship counselling can help everyone in that relationship to understand each other better and, importantly, to understand themselves and their own impact on the relationship.

Who comes to relationship counselling?

Relationship counselling seems still to be mostly understood as being 'marriage counselling', 'couples counselling' or ‘marriage guidance’ - something that married couples and intimate partners try when their relationship becomes stormy. And yes, that's definitely one purpose of relationship counselling. But what about all the other relationships in your life? These can also be worked on in relationship counselling:

  • Parent-child relationships

  • Sibling relationships

  • Friendships

  • Work relationships

  • Other family relationships

What will we talk about?

People come to relationship counselling for all sorts of reasons, and what we talk about will driven by these issues. It’s very likely that you will want to tell your stories about what the issues are from your own perspective. And we will explore each person’s thoughts and feelings about these issues and how they impact on the relationship. You may discover that everyone in the relationship wants different things, and counselling can create the space for everyone to have their opinions heard.

What does the counsellor do?

“The relationship therapist facilitates a meeting between different people who

may be caught in complex habits and troubled by years of not feeling

understood by one another.”, Charles O’Leary.

My role as a relationship counsellor is to be multipartial, in other words, to care for each person in the relationship equally. My aim is to help each person to better understand the other(s) in the relationship, and to better understand themselves within the relationship's dynamics. I will facilitate a process of sharing, listening and understanding that will hopefully be helpful for everyone involved.

It's important to mention that I don’t have any agenda or preconceived ideas about what the outcome of your counselling will be, and that I have no expectation of any particular ‘right’ outcome. What I can do is to help you to work through whatever outcomes emerge.

Some resources

Where Should We Begin ~ podcast by Esther Perel

Small Things Often - podcast by The Gottman Institute

Contact me

Contact me at to discuss how relationship counselling might be helpful for you. I am currently working face to face from my therapy room in Falkirk, and online.

I hope you find these blogs interesting and helpful. If you’d like to read more of my musings you can subscribe to my blog at and follow me on Facebook at

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