Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the bottom right of this page
Couples often ask me how counselling can help – “you can’t make us agree with each other, can you?” and of course I can’t. It would be a strange (and I think, dysfunctional) relationship if you and your partners always agreed with each other. Differences give your relationship strength, as long as you appreciate and respect them. So I can’t, and wouldn’t want to, make you agree with each other, but I would hope to help you to disagree in a better way – a constructive way, rather than a destructive one.
The ability to communicate with each other is so important. It can seem better not to say what you feel – it might upset your partner, so why not avoid that by keeping quiet, dealing with it in another way? The trouble is that this can become a habit, so that it becomes more and more difficult to express your feelings to your partner, more and more natural to remain silent.
In the early days of counselling, couples often communicate only through me – so that I see each of the couple talking to me – sometimes appealing to me to take their side of the argument. In such situations, I sometimes feel like a messenger – listening, passing the message on – getting a reaction, passing that back. And that is helpful to couples because I am not reacting emotionally to what I am hearing. Instead I am listening respectfully and understanding both points of view, presenting them without anger or blame.
As counselling progresses, I often see couples start to be able to communicate in this way without needing to use my services as a messenger or translator, so that increasingly, rather than talking through me, they start to talk directly to each other. And sometimes I find myself just sitting and observing a couple having a constructive conversation, when a few weeks before there were unable to speak to each other except through me.
This change seems often to happen quite suddenly. There is a subconscious change in belief that occurs – from “We can’t talk about things, it’s too difficult and upsetting”, to “We can talk about things, even though it’s sometimes difficult and upsetting”. Sometimes this can change after just one or two sessions of counselling, sometimes it takes longer. But generally it seems to happen without the couple realising that it is happening, it is like acquiring a knack – something clicks and suddenly things feel different.
It is, I think, rather like learning to ride a bicycle. To start off with, you need someone’s hand on the saddle, running alongside to make sure you don’t fall off. That gives you the feeling that you are being supported, that someone is looking after you, and so you have confidence that you are not going to get seriously hurt. And then you look round and realise that your helper let go of the saddle some time ago and you’ve been riding along all on your own.