ARC Association for Relationship Counselling   Dulwich, Camberwell, Forest Hill, Lewisham, Clapham
South & South East London

About Therapy

Relationship Counselling can Help

By increasing psychological understanding of how their partnership works, the ARC counsellor seeks to enable each couple to recognise problems and work together to effect change. Lots of different kinds of issues can bring a couple to counselling. Sometimes outside events - health scare, a new baby, or a sudden redundancy - can destabilise even secure relationships in distressing, even frightening ways. Relationship counselling at ARC can benefit couples with a wide range of relationship issues. Those will include:

  • Difficulty communicating.
  • Managing conflict, for instance rowing frequently and unproductively.
  • Feeling stuck - when it seems the same pattern of discussion, argument or behaviour keeps happening without being able to get anywhere.
  • Sexual problems, including one partner having lost interest.
  • Fear of commitment, for instance in a couple who are together but cannot agree to marry or whether or not to have children.
  • Difficulties in parenting - a couple may find themselves constantly at odds on how to manage children's behaviour, or overwhelmed by the changes in their relationship with the arrival of children.
  • The impact of an affair - when emotions are very raw and powerful, and it is difficult to imagine the future of the relationship or marriage.
  • Deciding whether or not to separate, for instance where children are involved.
  • Coping with a termination or miscarriage - which can sometimes have unexpected, devastating effects on a relationship.
  • Dealing with chronic or terminal illness in a family.
  • Infertility and adoption issues.
  • The impact of retirement.

Relationship Counselling for Individuals

Psychodynamic relationship counselling is also effective for individuals. The counsellor discusses with you your particular problem or issue. The counsellor will be working with you to help you better understand your feelings and behaviour when relating to other people, or to a particular person or partner.

These feelings and behaviours may have complex roots, and the counsellor will be using psychological understanding to help you make connections between relationships and experiences in the past - for instance with parents or siblings - and the relationship or relationships in the current situation.

As in relationship counselling for couples, the counsellor provides a safe setting to explore painful or distressing issues in a constructive way. Talking to an ARC counsellor is different to talking to a friend because the counsellor has been trained to understand and talk about the psychological mechanism underlying the problem. It is possible to tell the counsellor things that a friend or partner might not understand or know how to respond to.

The ARC counsellor is not trying to offer you advice or tell you what to do. With the counsellor's help, you will identify patterns of behaviour connected to feelings and worries. As you begin to understand your own patterns and psychology, you can begin to think about your choices past and present, and decide for yourself what to do to bring about change. Relationship counselling can be used by someone on his or her own to work on problems such as:

  • Feeling stuck in a relationship that seems unhealthy, depressing or destructive.
  • Having anxieties or concerns about yourself or aspects of your relationship that you do not want to or cannot discuss with your partner.
  • Losing your partner through separation, divorce or death.
  • Being in a troubled relationship with a partner who is unwilling or unable to attend counselling.
  • Having difficulty making and maintaining stable relationships.

Relationship Counselling and Psychosexual Therapy

At ARC, relationship counselling also includes psychosexual therapy. You can attend psychosexual therapy with your partner or on your own. Psychosexual therapy specifically addresses issues to do with sexual functioning. Psychosexual counsellors are trained to discuss with you and your partner, or on your own, all aspects of sexual functioning in a frank and knowledgeable way. The approach is, where appropriate, a behavioural one, using specific programs and exercises to improve sexual satisfaction, which are done in the privacy of your own home. Psychosexual therapy can help with:

  • Sexual incompatibility including loss of desire and differing levels of desire.
  • Non-consummation of relationship.
  • Problems with arousal including vaginismus, and getting and maintaining an erection.
  • Pain on intercourse.
  • Premature or delayed ejaculation and/or difficulties in achieving orgasm.
  • Confusion with sexual orientation.
  • The impact of sexual abuse or a traumatic sexual experience.
  • Paraphilias (perversions) or fetishes.
  • Sexual addiction.
  • The effect of differing religious and/or cultural beliefs and values on the sexual relationship.

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