What goes on 'inside these four walls'
Updated: Jan 9
At Headscape we offer help to people in the form of relationship and marriage counselling and therapy. I thought that it may be helpful to offer some words of context for anyone considering relationship counselling.
The phrase 'inside these four walls' is sometimes used when telling a secret designed not to be told to anyone else. It is also sometimes used in a relationship sense when referring to what is unknown in the exchange and communication between people, i.e., to do with how they live together – ‘nobody really knows what goes on inside these four walls'. A relationship or a marriage is its own world. As such, it makes no sense to the outside world.
When a relationship forms it begins its journey as a world of its own. Although comprised of two (or more) people, the relationship stands alone in its own right as the object that represents the combining and connecting of two or more people. In the therapy room, we are concerned with the relationship as well as the individuals who are part of it.
Many relationships change. They can also ‘stay the same’. They can settle down, they may develop, get stuck, end, restart, get more complicated etc. Arguably they are evolutionary on the whole and always attempt to join together individual people, their similarities and, their differences. As with individuals, each relationship is unique.
Sometimes what goes on inside 'these four walls’ changes to the extent that people find themselves at odds with each other or in difficulty. One or the other may feel alone or sometimes be suffering in different ways within the relationship.
Sometimes people perceive that one aspect of the relationship isn’t working. The degree to which people are or feel involved in each other’s lives may not be right. A wanted companionship may be absent. Sometimes the ‘balance of power’ feels wrong to people and a lack of confidence in decisions arises. Sometimes there is an absence of the desired level of love and affection. Sometimes people's sex lives don’t happen or develop in the way that is needed or wanted. There may be many reasons for incompatibilities and or difficulties. Those reasons may feel or be temporary. The reasons may be or feel permanent and a felt hopelessness may emerge.
So, some people make a choice to access relationship counselling or therapy as a way of exploring and addressing their relationships. Often a change of how people communicate in the relationship may be experienced. That is often the feature of the relationship that initiates a choice to access counselling. There may be different levels of commitment to accessing therapy between people. One or other may feel more or less comfortable with the idea of counselling. It is acknowledged that it is one thing to talk about oneself in the therapy room, it is another thing to talk about oneself in the context of another and in front of a stranger. Often it is the first experience of a therapeutic process for some people. All that said, it is my experience that people soon get the hang of it and find their way.
Behaviour in relationships is a separate subset of human behaviour. Many of us adapt or moderate our behaviour depending on who we are with. Every new person we meet teaches us something about ourselves. To be in a primary relationship such as a marriage or partnership offers longer term potential for learning about ourselves and the person we are with. We change over our lifetimes, at
the very least because of the different stages of life. As such, is it surprising that it is important to pay quality attention to our relationships? Doing that in the therapy room may sometimes be a good way to pay that attention.
At Headscape we take a person-centred approach to relationship counselling and therapy. This means that we provide a non-judgemental and safe space for people to explore, reflect on, make sense of and, where appropriate, to make changes to their relationship. A clinical framework and value base is used by the therapist to support people as they proceed but fundamentally, responsibility for the relationship is held by the individuals involved in it.
Features of therapeutic work may include:
· Reviewing and understanding the history of the relationship
· Considering the relationship in a wider family context
· Identifying incidents or events that have affected the relationship – past and present
· Understanding what individuals bring to a relationship and how they communicate
· Building features of support for the relationship
· Helping those involved draw conclusions about the relationship, make decision about it and support new action.
As part of supporting people to work on their relationships, we offer a free phone conversation with each person to discuss what they’re looking for, how we might go about things and what to do next.
We are acutely aware that the last few years created a new context for us all in our relationship worlds. We take that into account of course when listening to people’s experiences.
As with all therapies the specific skills of the therapist are relevant and play a part in effectiveness of the experience. A working chemistry should quickly develop between people and therapist if it is not already apparent at the outset.
You are very welcome to make contact with me in a way that best suits you to learn more about what Headscape offers in relationship counselling, our experience and the ways we go about it.