Counselling and the breakdown of relationships.

177802153_ccc2373f9c_mSo it is the last week before Christmas and unlike the song, Twas the Night Before Christmas, a lot of us are scurrying around trying to get cases tied up before we all leave the office for a bit of the time off over the festive period. The office Christmas party is set for Thursday night, and promises to be an entertaining and delicious evening with the food on offer. I am looking forward to a couple of days off over Christmas and time to spend with my family and friends. I am also thankful that this year I don’t have an LPC exam looming on the 2nd of January.

Today as I rattle through the first few tasks on my long job list for this week I take a minute to read a new survey conducted by Seddons in conjunction with The Marriage Foundation. According to this survey, whilst one third of divorcing couples greatly regret the affect their separation had on their children they did not generally seek help with their relationship. The survey asked 23 questions of its participants, the topic of these questions centred around the impact the separation had on the parental relationship between the children and both parents and whether the parents have attended any courses when their relationship began to break down or any counselling following the breakdown of their relationship.

The survey showed that 79% of couples did not seek any form of counselling when their relationship was in difficulty, the majority of whom stated that at that point they believed it was just too late. Whilst, 24% of those involved in the survey reported that their children had suffered no negative effects following the separation, with most indicating that their parental relationship with their child had not suffered, some participants did report a deterioration in their children’s emotional wellbeing and behaviour.

A number of those surveyed stated that if they could go back and change one thing it would be to increase amicable communication between them and their partner both prior to and following the breakdown of their relationship. Over three quarters of those involved in the survey stated that they did not know about or did not take part in relationship education courses in the early stages of their relationship. However, the question is should we really need to educate people in how to be in a relationship. Sadly it would appear to be the case. As they say prevention is better than a cure. Although, a cure would be good also, counselling when your relationship hits difficulty would appear to greatly help. In 2011, Linda Kelsey wrote an article for the Daily Mail entitled ‘Can therapy save your marriage?’ in which Deborah Cooper, 52, stated that with a counsellors help her and her husband Bob, 60, worked through their relationship difficulties and ‘nearly 20 years down the line, and with their three children now grown up, Deborah says: ‘We’ve not had a major crisis between us since, even though two of our children have had severe health problems and there was a time when, financially, things were dire. But if we were to face another bad patch, would I go back to counselling? Definitely.’’  And she is not the only one to support relationship counselling, in January 2010 Relate reported that 80% of respondents to a survey they conducted, said they felt counselling helped to strengthen their relationship. However, other research suggests the exact opposite ‘US studies put the success rate for counselling at a meagre 11-18%.’ (Can these people save your marriage?, Luisa Dillner, The Guardian, Saturday 9 September 2006 http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2006/sep/09/familyandrelationships.family)  Research results are arguably swayed by a number of variables, for instance the success rate depends on a couples willingness to engage in counselling, the stage at which the breakdown of their relationship is at, and their belief in the fact that counselling can actually help. A knowledge that counselling and courses are available, however, would greatly help.

The Separation Survey results can be found here: http://www.marriagefoundation.org.uk/Shared/Uploads/Products/2681_Deborah%20Jeff%20research.pdf

Relate’s response to Divorce statistics England and Wales can be found at: http://www.relate.org.uk/press/17/index.html

‘Can therapy save your marriage?’ by Linda Kelsey can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1347726/Can-therapy-save-marriage.html

Photo by wheat_in_your_hair via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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