Healthy interpersonal relationships are the bread and butter of a productive, happy life. For most of us, the bond between spouses and/or parents and children are some of the most important relationships we will have in our lifetimes. Discord in these intimate spaces can quickly cause homes to feel unlivable. Because conflict occurs in cycles driven by the actions of both people, it can become self-sustaining and extremely difficult to interrupt without the intervention of a third party. This is where seeking help from a therapist trained in mediation and healthy relationships can be so important.
THERAPY IS A NEUTRAL SPACE
One reason going to counseling to work on relationships is so effective is because the third party, the therapist, is impartial and not invested in a “win” for either person. If two people are completely at odds and unable to find a middle ground, the therapist’s office can also act as a neutral ground and dedicated workspace. Without the distractions of the outside world, this space can be a much more productive place to improve marriages, partnerships, or other important relationships. For spouses considering separation or divorce, having an honest, productive dialogue with the mediation of a therapist can be invaluable. Even if the split proceeds, learning how to communicate in a more civil manner will help the future of both parties. Whether the goal becomes learning to co-parent together, or just to have a more civil divorce with less traumatic and expensive fighting in court, a trained therapist and mediator can be of tremendous help.
HEALING YOURSELF IMPROVES YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS
It’s also possible to work on healthy relationships alone. For example, if a person finds themselves in a string of unhealthy or abusive relationships or constant conflict with others, working with a therapist is an invaluable tool that can help uncover why this behavior continues to repeat itself with different people. Learning about healthy relationships and communication can also help stop inter-generational cycles of conflict or abuse. This cycle is often not interrupted until the adult child learns self-awareness, self-advocacy, and other communication skills that were not modeled in his/her childhood. Learning how to be an active contributor to healthy, loving relationships can also have a positive impact in other areas of life. Besides strengthening family bonds, the core communication skills at the heart of good relationships can also be helpful in professional development, friendships, and self-actualization.
Even if there aren’t serious problems, couples can benefit from counseling before big life changes, like marriage, the birth of a child, or entry of the child into adolescence. In these cases, the therapist will work with all people involved to establish mutually-agreed-upon rules for clear, effective, and fair communication. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the point of going to relationship therapy is not to prevent all conflict. Some amount of it is normal and even healthy in every relationship! The main objective is learning how to “fight fairly”—or be able to take personal accountability, listen actively, and learn how to compromise. If conflict is becoming a defining part of your life or jeopardizing relationships with loved ones, contact our office to set up an appointment for a mediation session with a trained therapist today.