Berkshire Counselling and Psychotherapy Services

Intimacy issues for couples. Can counselling help?

Why is it that a couple can still feel close and friendly but lose the passion for each other? That is a common question in my practice as a Counsellor/psychotherapist and my job is to work with the couple to find the answer to the question as well as help the couple achieve their underlying goal which is simply 'How do we feel intimate and close together on a sensual and sexual level?'

It is innate in us as human species to desire an intimate relationship with at least one person in our lives. Otherwise we should be quite happy with a partner who we do not fight with, we like going on holidays with and we like having sex occasionally with. But most couples start feeling a void in the relationship and they drift apart on a mental and emotional level as the intimacy start fading out.

What do we understand by intimacy? most of my clients will explain it as a loss of sex in their lives but when we explore the issue deeper it is not necessarily the sex but the sensual closeness of the skins, the playfulness before and after sex, the fun of passion in the eyes making them feel alive and precious to someone else, the pleasure of vulnerability and the power of making someone so happy via love and passion. My clients are normal people who started the relationship full of promises and passion and the relationship kept its promise for:

  1. a few years and then finances, kids, stress of work took priority and they lost sight of what was their relationship all about.
  2. many years but lately the relationship has become a friendship and nothing more; even the sex in the relationship is stable but 'it feels like making love to my friend and it just doesn't feel right' as one client put it.
  3. a few months and then the person is back to the same pattern of losing interest in the partner or find the other person losing interest in them; many clients are single persons who come to relationship counselling when they notice a similar pattern of fusing with passion into a relationship which then diffuses into lack of intimacy, hurt and distrust.

How does Berkshire Counselling and Psychotherapy help with intimacy issues in couples?

Using solution focused , CBT and psychoanalytic approaches as an integrative approach. Amreeta Chapman, (your counsellor and Psychotherapist in Reading, Wokingham, Woodley and Berkshire) helps her clients renew their relationship on more than just a friendship level. The goals are decided by the clients and they are re-evaluated every few sessions to make sure the clients are progressing. The sessions of counselling are a combination of understanding, reflection, psychoeducation as well as packed with exercises within and after the session for clients to remove the blocks between them and within their relationship.The blocks usually are around:

  1. loss of contact between the couple whereas before they would make time for themselves and their partner now other things have prioritized themselves in their lives. As a counsellor, Amreeta’s job is to help the client renew contact via behaviour modification, looking at some of the reasons why they might be staying away from each other and examining the fears and anxieties that may have taken root between them.
  2. Fear of intimacy...all of us feel the initial passion when the relationship is new; all of us idealize the partner as 'perfect' at the start of the relationship. But to sustain a relationship, we need more maturity and ability to be in it consistently and allow it to grow. But due to developmental reasons (loss of one parent, child abuse, witness to cheating, violence etc in early life) or recent hurts (affairs, lies, deceits) some partners still want to be in the relationship but fear getting too close and get hurt. When the fear of intimacy is recent, the prognosis is better as the Counsellor can help the couple process the recent hurts and mistrust but when the fear of intimacy has its roots in much earlier relationships, then the work can demand individual counselling for one of the partners. This will best enable them to work out those fears and beliefs that may still be influencing their present relationship.
  3. Fear over sexual aspect of the relationship.We are a product of several generations of taboo and shame around sex and sexual pleasures. Clients often have shame and guilt around indulging into sex for pleasure; so long as it was for kids and family life it was all right; but when it came to enjoying the relationship for the self, the person feels stripped and exposed to internal conflicts over their body, their appearance, their internal voice of shame and guilt. My clients often come to counselling because of the conscious guilt over not being able to contribute to their relationship today; but also because of their unconscious guilt over their ingrained beliefs around sex and sensuality being wrong and shameful or intimacy for pleasure being something that will hurt them.
  4. Other reasons. The reasons can be innumerable but what each couple has to decide is where they are today and where they wish to get to after counselling. Then the counsellor defines a plan of work to help her clients get where they wish to be in a few weeks/months time.
For more information or questions call Amreeta on 0118 926 9978 or 0786 129 3634. You can also email her your questions by clicking here. Please note that she may be with clients so do leave a message as she aims to answer you within two to three hours. Amreeta understands you are making a huge step ahead by contacting her and she will definitely answer you by call or mail whichever you prefer!

Practices in Reading/Caversham, Wokingham/Bracknell, Woodley/Twyford, Windsor/Slough, covering Berkshire.

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