Counselling for relationship difficulties (South Ealing Practice)
This case study has been written with express permission from the client
PR came to see me at my South Ealing practice in November 2013 for counselling treatment to help him through a recent relationship issue. He had been with his long term girlfriend for about four years. Although they lived separately, they spent a majority of their time staying at each other’s houses. Like most couples, they had their share of difficulties, but as far as PR was concerned they had a healthy relationship, one which was destined to eventually lead to marriage and children.
In early 2013, PR faced a difficult time at work, unexpectedly being made redundant. He struggled for several months looking for a new job and this stress and anxiety began to weigh down his relationship. Shortly after, his girlfriend was due to go on a month long holiday to South America with a group of her friends. Initially PR chatted to his girlfriend each day whilst she was away, but gradually she became more distant with him, telling him she needed a break and wanted to enjoy her time away from him. When she finally returned from her trip, she told him that she needed a break from their relationship, feeling it had become too intense. She told him that she still loved him and promised him there was no one else, but for the moment, she needed a break from the relationship.
This was the point at which PR came to see me in South Ealing for Counselling. He wanted to understand what had gone wrong in the relationship, how he could go about trying to repair it and how to deal with the strong emotions which accompanied the break up.
An essential foundation of our work together focused on PR feeling safe and secure in the counselling relationship. After the loss of his job and loss of his girlfriend in a very short space of time, it was important that he felt able to rely on the therapeutic relationship and trust that it would be there for him for as long as he needed it. The counselling began with PR recounting the relationship from the very beginning, how they met, how the relationship developed and the problems they encountered. We also compared the relationship with those he had experienced previously and slowly, patterns began to emerge.
It appeared that PR had acute anxieties in relationships, fearing that something terrible would happen to his partner if he didn't speak to them or see them regularly. In his current relationship, he may have only seen his girlfriend that morning, but still felt a compulsion to call her several times during the day before seeing her again in the evening. At first he believed this was just down to missing her, but he slowly came to realise that he was worried about something happening to her and that he was being very over protective. He began to realise the extent to which he kept in contact with his partner and how suffocating she may have found it. What he was doing out of love and with the best intentions was actually what was causing the difficulties.
These realisations and the support of the counselling sessions gave PR the strength to give his girlfriend the space and time she needed. Although he missed her very much during their time apart, he knew that it was truly going to improve their relationship in the long term.
PR spent 12 weeks in counselling at my South Ealing practice. During this time, he came to understand the part he plays in relationships, how these could be interpreted by his partner and alternative ways to be. There was a noticeable change in his demeanor during our sessions which was also commented on by PR's friends and family members. Towards the end of our counselling sessions, PR told me that he and his partner had begun to see each other again. They were taking things slowly, but focusing on communication. He was very much aware of his feelings to protect her, look after her and check up on her, but felt that our therapy sessions and the increased ability to communicate his feelings with his partner meant that he would be able to deal with those feelings in a more healthy and productive way.
Several months later, I was delighted to hear that things were progressing well between PR and his girlfriend. He commented that the relationship was even better than before and they were both very excited about their future together.
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