Counselling in Wokingham – Understanding or Misunderstanding?

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406paulcockayne3@gmail.com
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
I was working with a couple recently, where the woman had had, during the course of the relationship, a number of affairs – or perhaps it would be more accurate to call them “flings” – they tended to be very brief, sometimes “one night stands’. At various points the man had found out about this, they had talked about it and been able to move on, only for it to happen again a few months later.

When I met them, it seemed that the pattern had changed – the couple had had counselling a few of years before and it seemed that since then the woman had stopped having affairs. She seemed to have an understanding of why the affairs happened and to have a plan to make sure that it didn’t happen again. So she felt confident that she could remain faithful, and I shared that feeling – but her partner didn’t.

He was finding it very hard to regain trust in his partner. He continued to get flashbacks to past discoveries, and found it extremely difficult when his partner was away on a business trip. Of course, these feelings are normal; regaining trust in such situations is difficult – it takes time and patience from both parties. However, this client seemed to be struggling far more that most, and so we explored what was going on for him to try to understand the reasons why.

All his adult life, this man had a problem with alcohol, at times drinking to excess, particularly when stressed. His battle against his addiction was on-going; he was constantly aware of the danger of regression; he was constantly fighting the temptation to have a drink. When he thought about his partner’s flings, he was drawing a mental parallel with his alcoholism; his idea was there was an external force at work – a pull towards drinking, that was similar to his partner’s problem – an external force pulling her towards infidelity.

This connection was, in many ways, helpful to him. In enabled him to see his partner’s behaviour as something she had little control over and he could therefore blame external factors rather than his partner – he could see his partner as a victim of circumstances, and in some ways felt sorry for her.

However, in this connection also lay a problem. His alcoholism was an on-going problem, one that could recur, something that he could easily lapse into again. And seeing his partner’s behaviour in this light meant that he believed she could easily have another fling, that there was a constant danger of it happening again. He was expecting a recurrence, and so it was impossible for him to move on, to believe the flings were in the past.

In seeking to understand things that are confusing us, we often draw parallels with things we do understand. We do this in all sorts of areas, I think – in learning to use a new word processor, for example, we will relate it to a package we are already familiar with. But this can hold us back when things are different – our idea of how the old package worked can make it difficult to understand the new one. We try to make the new package “fit” our idea of how it will work, when what we need to do is to change our preconceptions and look at things afresh.

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About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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