The Role of a Couples Counsellor is Exacting and Invaluable

The couple’s counsellor is a trained healthcare specialist whose skills are in high demand today. His or her task, commonly known by the alternative descriptions of relationship counselling or marriage guidance, is a demanding one that calls for a high degree of empathy and understanding that must, however, always be tempered by the ability to remain strictly impartial and non-judgmental. In fact, the term guidance tends to imply some form of direct instruction, which may be somewhat misleading. In fact, the aim of the therapist in this role is not to advise but rather to encourage a more meaningful dialogue between the parties concerned, through a process of questioning designed to promote desirable attitudinal change. 

Typically, at the time when couples first approach a counsellor, the parties are unable to see past their personal hurt or anger and each is quite likely to view the other as intransigent as well as being largely responsible for their respective unhappiness. In a surprising number of cases, the problems that eventually culminate in divorce proceedings have stemmed from nothing more serious than misunderstandings and mistaken beliefs and could have been resolved amicably with better communication between the warring parties.

Too often, instead of seeking professional help, such life-changing decisions are made based solely upon the so-called common sense opinions of a family member or friend whose insight is limited to just one side of the conflict. By contrast, as few as three or four sessions with an experienced couple’s counsellor could, instead, have seen a husband and wife reunified, with an improved understanding of one another’s needs and that former ability to make each other happy that was responsible for their original attraction restored.

For those who are willing enough to take the first step of consulting a relationship specialist, there is every hope of a successful outcome and even where a separation is unavoidable perhaps due to continued infidelity or physical abuse, at least it may be possible to restore a more agreeable pattern of communication that allows the parties to negotiate important matters such as maintenance payments and visitation or custodial rights in respect of any minor children of the marriage.

Financial hardship is often the reason why consulting a couple’s counsellor is ruled out – the common belief being that a separation or divorce is cheaper. In the short term, this may appear true but over time it rarely remains so. In practice the cost of a saved marriage can be surprisingly modest. Dr Tienie Maritz charges medical aid rates and will even negotiate payment terms for non-members, positioning the services of an experienced couple’s counsellor within everyone’s reach.

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