Counselling & Psychotherapy for Interpersonal Relationships
Our relationships with those around us are essential to our identity, how we understand the world and develop our belief systems. Interpersonal relationships can refer to romantic, friendship and familial bonds, but also our professional connections.
Essentially, our interpersonal skills dictate how we relate to everyone we cross paths with. Often the underlying belief of interpersonal therapy is that psychological symptoms (anxiety / depression) are seen as a response to difficulties that we have when engaging with others. The resulting symptoms can then also affect the quality of these interactions, causing a cycle. The thought process behind getting therapy is that once someone is capable of interacting more effectively with individuals around them, the psychological symptoms can improve.
Interpersonal relationships are dynamic, fluid evolving systems. They require maintenance and nurturing, and often involve many complicated emotions from both sides. People with close interpersonal relationships will most likely benefit from a sense of confidence, security, belonging, reduced stress and reduced chances of depression and anxiety. They may also have a better chance of succeeding both personally and professionally.
A person with interpersonal difficulties will have difficulty relating to and bonding with other people, and/or they might find that they struggle with particular relationship types (such as the parent-child relationship, male-female platonic relationship or professional, collegial or employer-employee relationship). As our relationships can be such an important tool to help manage emotional and mental health they are very important, so if you are struggling with interpersonal relationship difficulties you may be more likely to be vulnerable to emotional and psychological challenges.
Who might experience interpersonal relationship difficulties?
Anyone might struggle with interpersonal relationship difficulties; certainly most of us will have felt anxious, shy or anti-social at some point in our lives. Relationship difficulties are common, perfectly normal and part of every daily living.
However, for some relationships can present a particular challenge. People with certain mental health issues for example are more likely to have highly inhibitive interpersonal relationship problems, different from everyday social awkwardness and it is fairly common for people with personality disorders to struggle with building and maintaining their relationships. Personality disorders can influence the way people think, feel and behave and therefore building bonds with others can be more difficult than for people without this condition.
It is also very common for those who have been unsuccessful in relationships in the past to shy away from future relationships through fear of repeating the same pattern of meeting, forming close personal bonds, and then having to suffer the pain of what they perceive as the inevitable relationship breakdown.
Interpersonal relationships can also be challenging for those with anxiety – particularly social anxiety -, depression, autism, people with low self-esteem, and those who have experienced some sort of trauma, neglect or abuse.
What are the signs that I am struggling with interpersonal relationship difficulties?
- Anger: you may find that you become angry more easily. You may become frustrated as you struggle to find a way to communicate with others. This can be intensely damaging to relationships and to you.
- Withdrawal: you may not feel inclined to socialise with friends, family, colleagues or loved ones.
- Lack of confidence and a sense of alienation: Feeling as though you are not good enough to be in a relationship or that you are somehow different to other people.
- Difficulty communicating: you may struggle to express yourself, both verbally and non-verbally, you may feel that you are often misunderstood or feel frustrated that you seem to say the wrong things.
- Difficulty listening: you may find it difficult to properly listen to another’s needs resulting in relationship conflicts and feelings of distance from others.
- Lack of negotiation skills: you may lack the ability to negotiate with others to find a mutually agreeable outcome.
- Isolation: you may feel isolated and experience feelings of loneliness. How we interact with others and build interpersonal relationships is integral to our being able to feel accepted, attached and as though we belong. If you struggle with interpersonal relationship difficulties, you may feel that there is a void in your life.
How can therapy help with interpersonal relationship difficulties?
Interpersonal relationship difficulties are a very common reason that people seek help from a therapist or counsellor. While many forms of therapy can help address the issues that arise from having interpersonal relationship difficulties, interpersonal therapy is the type of therapy most focused on the issue.
Interpersonal therapy often supports the idea that difficulty interacting with others can cause us to become lonely, depressed and/or anxious, and that in turn, the symptoms of these mental health issues makes it more difficult for us to communicate with others. Your therapist will help you identify and clarify your difficulties, help you understand how you currently communicate with people and how this can be improved, and will act as a supportive, non-judgemental listener.
While interpersonal therapy is most helpful for those with identifiable, presenting issues within their relationships, this therapy may also look deeper into your past, most likely your childhood, to see if there is any evidence of patterns having been formed then.
Relational therapy is another effective tool to support interpersonal relationship problems. This focuses on the importance of the client-therapist relationship as a model for relationships outside of therapy. Working relationally, you will gain a better understanding of how you want and need your relationships to be.
If you experience two or three symptoms then this could be measured as a mild case of SUD, however, if you feel that four or more symptoms apply then it is advised to seek support around these behaviours.
What therapy would look like…
Many people find it difficult to talk about their problems with someone they do not know, and it is important that your therapist can make you feel that they are to be trusted, and can help you manage if you talk about things which upset you or about which you feel embarrassed. Talking openly about yourself for the first time to a new person can feel difficult and you may be worried about what your therapist thinks about you and how you manage relationships. However, everything is confidential and I am here to help.
The aim of therapy will be get as good a picture as i can of what you are finding difficult in your life and how this is affecting you and people close to you. I will be interested in understanding how difficulties in your interactions with others may have contributed to your psychological symptoms. I will ask you questions to help you to take stock of the relationships that are important to you, looking at their strengths and any problems. The idea is to help you to identify those people that it would be most useful to focus on during the therapy.
Once we have gained a clearer picture of the relationships that are connected with your symptoms, we will agree on the main areas that therapy will focus on. I want to help you to think about the people in your life who may be able to provide support to help you overcome your current difficulties. I will also support you in making positive changes in your life. For example, they might encourage someone who fears that they will be rejected if they speak their mind to take the risk of trying out different ways of communicating more directly. This may feel difficult at first, but we can explore any anxieties that arise.
Ending interpersonal therapy can be difficult because the relationship that develops between us can become quite important. Ending therapy can feel like a big loss and you are likely to experience a range of feelings about it. We will explore your feelings and look at identifying any problems that may arise in the future to ensure you would manage if things became difficult again.
Private Counselling & Psychotherapy for Interpersonal Relationships London
To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss how I can help you overcome challenges with interpersonal relationships, simply call on 0207 205 2868 or complete the online enquiry form.