When you make a commitment to a relationship you do so hoping that it will be forever.
But the reality is that people change and so do relationships.
Some of the most common difficulties that couples present with are:
communication difficulties often confusing, leaving you going round in circles and exhausted
rows that often involve power struggles and feeling emotionally bruised
affairs leaving you feeling devastated or full of guilt and remorse
domestic abuse often traumatizing having a long-term detrimental impact on future relationships
separation and divorce, if, how and when to do the 'uncoupling' and how to tell the children
sexual relationship and loss of intimacy, bonding and closeness
life stages and transitions such as a new baby and empty nest syndrome
The basis of any relationship is good communication. It's not easy though to share thoughts, feelings and needs partly because in childhood we grew up in families that didn't model this for us, didn't know how to respond, or dismissed this as unimportant.
Sadly, this painful pattern can continue in your adult relationships leaving you feeing distanced from one another and lonely. This is where I can help you as a couple in developing good communication to feel seen and heard, to connect and get your needs met in your relationship.
So instead of not 'just not talking', or, if you take a risk and talk it 'ends in a row', try couples counselling where I will help you to listen express your needs, manage conflict and emotionally connect.
Finding out about an affair can be devastating and talking about it is often painful and difficult. Trust can be blown away. Why the affair happened can be complex and are unique to each couple.
It's essential in couples counselling to feel safe and held in being able to talk about so much hurt. I help couples to safely express and acknowledge painful emotions and to address issues of trust.
I also help couples to unravel the reasons for the affair making sense of why it happened - the 'couple fit'. In understanding this, where possible, I can help you to rebuild your relationship, restore the trust and have a future together that meets both your needs.
Separation and Divorce Counselling
Couples often arrive at counselling undecided whether they are 'in or out', or, 'stuck and frustrated' in the relationship. There can be a 'split agenda' where one person wants to continue and the other is either is unsure, or, wants to leave.
Having the skills to hold this delicate and fragile place is essential until you can make sense of why this has happened and what you want so helping you to make an informed choice about the relationship.
Where there are children, one of the biggest worries is whether they will suffer. I will help you separate out your feelings and needs from those of your children enabling you to co-parent in being vital for the interests and well-being of your children.
The term "domestic abuse" is often not fully understood and means different things to different people. People can think of this as 'just physical abuse', but it includes a wider range of behaviours that are are psychological, emotional, and financial intended to control or coerce the other person through abuse, threat or force.
The effects can be traumatising to your mental health and wellbeing causing you to lose your self-respect, self-confidence and self-worth.
It's essential that a risk assessment and risk management of your relationship and where counselling is appropriate help you to break the cycle of abuse and adopt respectful behaviours.
Sexual Relationship and Loss of Intimacy
A sexual relationship can be 'the hub' of a relationship much like the hub of a wheel that holds the other parts of the relationship together.
Its needs to be consensual and meet both of your needs.
Your sexual relationship can be the cause of the problem; or, a reflection of what's missing in your intimate emotional relationship. It can act as a mirror to your life together: if things go wrong in other areas of your relationship your sex life will usually suffer too.
Good communication is vital in understanding each others needs to restore the fun and pleasure of your sexual relationship.
Rows can be about anything, or, the same row that keeps happening over and over. They can feel extremely hurtful and over time can feel 'like emotional bruises on the inside' being so damaging that it gets harder and harder to recover from.
How you saw and experienced conflict in your childhood can have a direct bearing on how you row in your adult relationships. Rows generally follow a 'pattern' in your relationship. Understanding what is happening currently as well as historically is the key. This together with learning how to negotiate around your different beliefs and opinions is essential. I can help you both to express yourself staying in control and having respect for difference.
Life Stages and Transitions
The birth of a first child and children leaving home can be two of the most life changing events that can happen to a couple. There is often mixed feelings from elation to exhaustion.
In moving from a couple to a family and back again, often the balance of the relation is affected and I can help you to 'tune' back into and realign and re-negotiate your relationship to have the future you both need.
Couple Counselling Testimonials
My partner and I started with Karen as a last resort to save our relationship. We had had so many events in our lives that caused us to build walls and distance ourselves from each other to the point were it felt like we could never knock them down. Karen gave us the tools and the understanding to be brave enough to start chipping away the walls and brick by brick they came down. Our relationship is stronger and most important we communicate so much clearer and with more understanding of where each other are coming from. I truly believe our relationship would be over if we had not started therapy and cannot thank Karen enough for all her hard work and understanding.
My husband and I attended couples counselling with Karen as our marriage was at breaking point due to frequent arguments. We were both incredibly stressed and wanted to find a way to work through our difficulties. Meeting Karen undoubtedly saved our marriage. She was non-judgmental in her approach and helped to foster dialogue so that we could discuss our differences in a safe and secure environment. We now argue less and have the tools to manage problems as they arise in a less destructive manner. Karen was particularly skilled at formulating and making sense of the difficulties within our relationship whilst remaining supportive throughout. I could not recommend Karen highly enough for her professionalism and genuine warmth.
Making space in my life to talk through what runs through my head and comes out during times of stress and pressure has proved invaluable. Karen's gentle listening style and willingness to work with/talk about what feels like a priority is both reassuring and challenging especially if it means we are talking about tricky emotions. I feel I've learnt so much about how I work and how I work with my partner, it's not always easy to do but so very worth it and has definitely given me more tools to handle all that life throws at you.
Before couples counselling began we recognised that our relationship had become stagnant. We had stopped communicating and had separated. Karen provided a really safe environment for us not only to start to communicate again but to share our inner secrets and feelings. We thought we could never have done this nor even understood ourselves and each other in this way. We now have the skills through counselling to talk and find out what each of us is feeling and thinking. We are back together and have ground rules for living together and are optimistic about our future. We felt quite emotional in ending counselling as Karen was our safety net. We know we can go back if we need to. We would like to thank Karen so much for all her help and for what we have achieved.
Our relationship was in tatters. There had been an affair. We couldn't see anyway past it and we were scared for our children. The rows were awful and we had stopped talking. Over the years we had lost any intimacy and had drifted apart. Karen helped us to see what had brought us together and what was still left of our relationship. Slowly we were able to rebuild trust. We are in a much better place now having talked it all out and feelings of love and intimacy have returned.
My husband and I attended couples counselling with Karen as our marriage was at breaking point due to frequent arguments. We were both incredibly stressed and wanted to find a way to work through our difficulties. Meeting Karen undoubtedly saved our marriage.
Karen is professional, gentle, strong, insightful and worked a miracle with my husband and I. We were given clear methods and guidance to help us to work on our relationship. We are happier in our marriage than we ever have been, thanks to Karen.
It has been an emotional but loving and lovely experience. Thank you, Karen.
I just wanted to thank you so much for all of your help. Before talking to you I was honestly lost and unable to see a way forward. No matter what I did I kept repeating the same old mistakes in my relationship. We now both feel so optimistic about the future together as a happily married couple.