A Third person in the Session Room
I truly love to do couples counseling and there are many reasons why a third person in the session room can help you in your process of change and growth. We evolved as a species within groups, families, and couples. If you are unable to interact effectively with your friends, partners, and families, you will be isolated and dissatisfied. This will often lead to depression, anxiety and an unresolvable series of conflicts, disengagement or apathy with your partner.
I believe that we all have inherent abilities to communicate intimate thoughts and feelings with people in our lives. Because of events throughout your developmental years that were hurtful, you may be willing to shut yourself down and hide intimate feelings and thoughts underneath fear, self-consciousness and guilt. Often you are unaware of your intimate feelings and thus unable to express them, they come out in the form of anger, irritation and frustration focused outward on the people you love.
One way to get beyond this dilemma is to do couples counseling with you, your partner or friend and the therapist. In this setting the therapist will facilitate the creation of a safe place to explore the cycles or patterns of interaction that are the antagonists to your relationship, not your partner. This means having both partners in the room for most of the sessions. Remember that in any relationship, all of the parties have a role in determining the tenor of the interactions.
Often I get a call from a spouse asking me to work with their partner. Usually I suggest that they both come in and that they do couples counseling together. I suggest proceeding this way even if one of the partners has issues separate from the relationship. This is because issues in the relationship can heighten tension around personal problems. I find that the best outcomes happen when each partner is enlisted as a support for the other.