Few therapists specialise in couple and family counselling because, as studies suggest, counsellors find couple and family work to be more demanding. This translates into being more stressful at times, dealing with complex social and relational issues, and essentially getting paid the same for more work. Makes sense… perhaps…
Virginia Satir was a foundress of relational therapy. She saw all counselling as relational. When we work with individuals, we are working with many “persons” within the one. Often therapy is sorting through this complexity, regardless of the number of individuals in the room. From this point of view, all therapy is relational.
This woman’s wisdom marked the early years of my practice. She led me into the field of Human Ecology, which gave me skills in family life education. This opened up practical and pragmatic issues couples face daily, and that often make or break a marriage.
Women’s wisdom also directed me toward interpersonal communications. Central to life, relationship, and intimacy, this field of practice became another cornerstone of my work.
Over the years couples have come to me for help in conflict and separation. In many moments prior to taking that road toward ending a relationship, we would explore why they got married in the first place. By revisiting the fire in the belly, sometimes couples would learn new skills through therapy and reclaim their relationship. Other times, they might come to term with their story in deeper ways that allowed them to separate without messy legal battles and with less complex grief and loss.
Many experiences led me to articulate what I do best – couple enrichment. A step away from counselling and psychotherapy, enrichment is a strengths based approach that sides with building skills and capacity to communicate. This goes back to the late 1980s for me, into the work of Virginia Satir, who said that communication between the parts of a person and between people is the cornerstone of human development, problem solving, and intimacy.