Couples counselling or relationship counselling is exactly what it says. Counselling - for couples. If you are of a certain age (I am certainly in that bracket) you may be more familiar with the term 'marriage guidance counselling'.
Although it is essentially the same thing, the word 'guidance' implies that somebody will be telling you which direction to go or what to do. A modern approach to working with couples is more about allowing each party to discover what's going wrong and then, with the help of the counsellor, work out how to repair it.
One way of looking at it is to imagine that the counsellor is there almost on behalf of the relationship, rather than either individual.
Sometimes the counsellor will need to act more like a mediator to help a couple find a common ground that they can both agree upon and with which they can both be happy while moving forward.
It seems fair to say that somewhere at the heart of pretty much any conflict is likely to be a breakdown of communication. Couples counselling can look at how each party communicates with the other and also consider how each perceives what the other says and does.
How would you feel if your partner told you that they felt unloved even though you're constantly buying them presents, doing the washing up or complimenting them on their achievements? What more can you do?
Well, it's possible that an unexpected hug or holding their hand would convey more love than all those other things put together. But you didn't know this because you were not communicating properly.
Resolving problems within a relationship is not a simple matter of talking more to each other. There are so many potential factors in play when a relationship starts to suffer and couples counselling can help look at them and work on them.
In some instances it has to be admitted that the relationship is doomed and no amount of therapy will help. However, couples counselling can still be of benefit by helping the people involved reach a more amicable conclusion, rather than an acrimonious one.
The great thing about couples counselling is that if both parties are committed to it, a positive outcome is highly likely. That 'positive outcome' could be anything ranging from rekindling the love you had for each other at the start, to parting on good terms but remaining friends.
Couples counselling is all about helping you find how your relationship can work in the best possible way so that all parties are as happy as they can be.