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..to now have serious doubts about relationship counselling/Relate

(31 Posts)
BlitheringIdiot Sat 08-Feb-14 22:00:10

Hello folks: possibly an odd question, but hopefully one some of you might have some input for. I have now had one friend and one relative go for relationship counselling (Relate and independent) where the counsellor appears to have had a strong bias towards the male partner. In each case it has led to a worsening in the relationship (as the bloke has taken this confirmation that their wife is a total bitch who is the only one with a problem). With the close friend, this appeared to help fuel an escalation to full-blown DV. With the family member, it wasn't much better, frankly.

Are these isolated cases, or is there some sort of intrinsic issue with this type of therapy?

I know, possibly silly place to post about this but I'm feeling quite angry but can't really vent without betraying some confidences.

Ziplex Sat 08-Feb-14 22:04:28

I'm not a fan of relate, I do think that there are some fantastic couple counsellors out there that truly do the job... None bias ... I'm one of them hahaha.
You just have to find the right one for you as a couple.
Good luck.

FitzgeraldProtagonist Sat 08-Feb-14 22:13:37

Anecdotally every single couple I know who have been to relate have ended up divorced.

ShakesBootyFlabWobbles Sat 08-Feb-14 22:16:39

I've used Relate twice for different reasons. Not a fan and wouldn't use them again.

Sharingeverything Sat 08-Feb-14 22:18:15

I went to relate with my DH and they were definitely biased towards him and very much made me feel like a silly little woman. It did get us talking away from the counselling room though and eight years later we are happily married but I would say that's inspite of not because of relate. A friend of mine said exactly the same thing in that their relate counsellor was very much biased towards her DH.

ParsleyTheLioness Sat 08-Feb-14 22:18:30

Used them, not impressed, but different reasons to you OP. And yes, I'm divorced too...

ilovesooty Sat 08-Feb-14 22:21:06

I counsel couples. Bias towards one party is absolutely not on. (I'm not a Relate counsellor).

LoveBeingCantThinkOfAName Sat 08-Feb-14 22:22:02

The only couple I know who went to relate flagged it off saying they thought it was useless and they could do better on heir own, they were divorced 6 months later

BlitheringIdiot Sat 08-Feb-14 22:23:50

Thank you for your responses. I'm going to pass them on to my friend (honestly, she exists!); feeling quite pissed off on her behalf, and also because in each case I encouraged them to seek couples counselling as I genuinely thought it would help and assumed that the therapists would have professional attitudes and insight.

Sharing- that is exactly what happened in each case- apart from the part where the couples got talking. Very glad to hear that you were able to resolve things yourselves.

gruffalosmile Sat 08-Feb-14 22:25:01

I went with DH, was not impressed. Definitely biased towards DH. We saw a male counsellor, not sure if a female would have been any better. We are still married, but no thanks to Relate tbh.

ilovesooty Sat 08-Feb-14 22:27:49

assumed that the therapists would have professional attitudes and insight

I would hope that would be a basic expectation of any counsellor.

ALittleFaith Sat 08-Feb-14 22:57:51

We had Relate. Our relationship was very strained after nearly 3 years TTC. We had reached the point where we constantly tore strips off each other and were defensive even when the other wasn't being mean. The relate just helped us say what we were feeling with a mediator present. We only had 4 sessions, that was enough. Still married 18 months later and have 9mo DD smile

Joiningthegang Sat 08-Feb-14 23:11:54

Female relate counsellor after dh had an affair. Iwe had 3 young children during this time (and the affair ) she was def biased to him - made me cry every single fucking week. Our joint contempt if her united us and very happy 4 years on. Without Having been through it I don't think we would be together now, I was able to get everything out and it did help us to communicate .
The woman was sex obsessed and I felt she was consistently saying " it's your fault. You should have been having sex with him" and disregarded all info re sleep deprivation and not really wanting to.

I hated her more than him in the end - but it worked for us!

ninilegsintheair Sat 08-Feb-14 23:14:32

I went to Relate for couples counselling after DV incident with husband at the end of 2012 (of course its not recommended in abusive situations but I wanted to try). The counsellor was utterly useless and just backed him up - on one occasion she called me 'defensive' and at another session sat in silence while he verbally abused me which caused me to break down mid session and leave in floods of tears.

She finished our 'course' after a few sessions as he said we could 'take it from here' despite my begging her not to as it was obvious we still needed help.

Ive not heard a positive story from anyone who went to Relate.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 08-Feb-14 23:16:03

We saw a male relate counsellor who was very fair. He stayed pretty much on the fence and only wavered when ExH said he wouldn't give up OW.

WilsonFrickett Sat 08-Feb-14 23:19:43

Relate counselling is hard to come by where I live, but there are two counsellors who are known to be female-friendly, and it's their names that get passed around. I'm not discounting any of the stories on this thread, just saying there is bad counselling around. I suspect Relate is no better or worse than any other organisation.

MrsSnail Sat 08-Feb-14 23:22:17

When exH and I went it was a waste of time, she couldn't keep the discussions to the agreed agenda and the last session ended up being just him ranting at me for an hour. She also pushed me to 'make decisions' there and then for things I'd never previously considered.

MajesticWhine Sat 08-Feb-14 23:27:05

We tried counselling. Both non Relate. The first one we both despised and, in a way it united us at a difficult time. She just had nothing useful to contribute. Then we tried another who was not that much better really. But we are still together, so maybe it was helpful. I didn't think either of them were biased one way or the other.

BookABooSue Sat 08-Feb-14 23:29:07

I think the issue with Relate is the same with any counselling ie it's not advisable to have joint counselling if you're in a relationship with emotional or domestic abuse.

If there is an imbalance in the power of the relationship then the counselling can re-inforce it simply because the couple slip into their 'traditional'/manipulated roles and the counsellor can't draw them out of that.

I went to Relate with dp and it was awful. I felt it was very biased towards him. Then I went to Relate on my own and it was a completely different experience. It made me realise that I didn't feel empowered in the sessions where dp was present.

You could argue that the counsellor should pick up on those dynamics and push clients towards individual counselling. I'd always point people towards individual counselling before couples' counselling.

Scarletohello Sat 08-Feb-14 23:34:36

I went to Relate on my own after a relationship broke up. Saw female counsellor for 4 months. I found her supportive and it helped me but it wasn't as insightful as I would have liked. Agree tho that it can be hit and miss with any counsellor. Also they do use a lot of trainees which may be part of the problem with some people's experiences.

Lillilly Sat 08-Feb-14 23:38:06

I tried it, was quite specific about what I wanted to get from it, wanting help about the way we spoke to each other and the way arguments escalated. I imagined we could scrutinise these patterns and have help in analysing and being aware of triggers and explore ways to change our patterns.

We just ended up taking it in turns to speak, it wasn't at all what I expected, pretty basic, nothing insightful. With the right help things might have worked out - shame really!

rockybalboa Sat 08-Feb-14 23:38:36

Went to Relate two years ago, they were brilliant. Counsellor was in no way biased towards DH and really helped him see clearly how a few of his behaviours were viewed by An Independent Other ie not his nagging wife. Things have been a lot better since.

rockybalboa Sat 08-Feb-14 23:39:44

Lililly: what you were after was exactly what we got. Sounds like we were lucky.

rabbitlady Sat 08-Feb-14 23:42:37

the ex husband once told me he'd discussed our 'problems' with a relate counsellor, informally, and been told that i needed to change.

no. i needed to change my lifestyle and ltb. mercifully, i was eventually about to throw him out.

PenelopePipPop Sat 08-Feb-14 23:54:16

We went for the same reason Lililly went and got exactly what we wanted. Saw a very warm older lady who also did family therapy, helped us work out some more constructive ways of communicating our differences, but also why we responded differently emotionally to arguments. Was really useful.

Several years later we went again after I'd been seriously ill, DH had been pretty traumatised by seeing me nearly die and supporting me through recovery and we were living with the repercussions of serious disability. Counsellor was useless, really could not get his head round the situation and kept repeating platitudes about how it was all going to be all right in the end (hmmm).

But agreeing not to bother and laughing about how shit he was was quite bonding so it helped indirectly. And obv DH and I are still together.

I agree 100% with BookaBooSue re power dynamics - if one person controls the session and cannot see that or does not want to it will never work.

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