Used well, relationship counselling can be incredibly helpful. But people often use it to avoid their issues. They tell themselves that they need is more information, insight, communication skills, techniques, professional support, all of which is great if you're willing to face reality. If you're unwilling, then this is all an elaborate way of hiding and avoiding. No amount of counselling will make up for the stubborn unwillingness to face reality. The starting point, the non-negotiable element, the agent of change, for a healthy relationship is courageous truthfulness.
If you want to hide something, put it in plain view. As the philosopher Wittgenstein famously said," Nothing is as hard to see as that which is before our eyes." We look for the deep elements of a thing because we are too scared to face what is in front of us. Am I truly committed to this relationship, or do I keep one foot out the door? Is my partner committed, and can I face the truth if they are not? Is there some major obstacle which we need to negotiate, if it is possible to be together? Am I brave enough to face these questions in myself and with my partner? Or will I avoid them, and when that no longer works, talk about the need for counselling, as a last resort way of not talking about the problem?
Do I really want this relationship? If the answer is yes, but there are problems, then I need to find the courage and determination to commit and make things work. At that point I might face complications where we can benefit from counselling and further skills, but that comes second. The first step is honesty with myself and my partner. Which courage with myself and my partner. It's not complicated. It is, of course, hard. Yes, but that's less hard than the misery or explosions that grow out of avoidance.
Yes, it's hard to be courageous. But remember that courage is not the absence of fear. Rather it is your response to your fear. When we make any significant change in life, we will encounter resistance. In business and art we will be overwhelmed for a moment with self-doubt or a desire to take it easy, to rest or merely dabble. When we face our fears we encounter a wave of greater fear which we must push through. But here's the thing: if you do so, then you become bigger than the fear.
You are not a coward for feeling afraid, rather cowardice is the other response to fear, the contrary of courage in the face of fear. If you choose cowardice whenever you encounter fear, if you run away from it, you will discover ultimately that there is nowhere to run. And that the fear and the thing you fear have not actually smaller, rather they have festered and grown in size. This is a law of life. Face the problem and march headlong toward it and it shrinks while you increase, hide or run from it and it will grow while you diminish.
If we are unwilling to be courageous in our relationships, then all the analysis and counselling in the world will be for nothing. If we are willing to be brave then we have a chance at flourishing, and counselling can be an excellent support for that.