Often clients who come to us for counselling tell us they do not feel close to their intimate partners, or sometimes they are concerned their relationships are on the verge of breaking up. They want intimacy and closeness with a partner, and are frustrated their relationships are not working out very well.
If people have behaved abusively or have had problems with anger management, this has likely led to their partner not feeling safe in the relationship. Safety is a foundation of any intimate relationship. If people do not feel safe, they keep their feelings and their concerns to themselves. All relationships require safety, honesty, trust, and open communication in order for both parties to be physically and emotionally close to one another. The following diagram illustrates this idea:
Our counsellors discuss with clients whether their partners feel emotionally and/or physically safe with them. Because this often is not the case, the focus of counselling at the Men’s Counselling Service becomes one of helping clients to rebuild this foundation of safety for their partners. Clients are encouraged to self-reflect, and to talk about what is important to them in their relationship. They are asked questions that clarify their values, and the kind of person they want to be. With the support of the therapist, clients are encouraged to work hard on changing their behaviours, so they can behave respectfully towards others, and to achieve the close relationships they desire in their lives.