Published in Counselling Stories on October 13th 2021
James and Becky relate their story of overcoming conflict through Tavistock Relationships' Parents as Partners programme
We first started to experience problems in our relationship a few months after our daughter Sophie was born in 2013. Things were blissful after her birth, but by the time she was nine months old we were at breaking point. Our relationship was in crisis and things became very ugly very quickly. There would be constant resentful arguments and angry outbursts, and we were so worried that this would affect Sophie's well-being.
By the time she was nine months old we were at breaking point. Our relationship was in crisis and things became very ugly very quickly.
We decided to do an online search for counselling and contacted a couples counselling service we had heard of before. We made enquiries with a couple of different counsellors to find that not only were they really expensive, but the waiting times to see a counsellor was far too long – we needed help right away. After some further research we came across the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships. We met with Rosemary who suggested the Parents as Partners Programme (PAP). We were told that the programme was free and that a crèche facility and meals would be provided as part of the sessions. The PAP team checked that we met the eligibility criteria and conducted some simple assessments, and before we knew it we were accepted onto the programme.
We were told that a key part of the programme would be group sessions led by a group worker and other couples. We were told that we would get to share our experiences and learn from other couples in similar situations. We went to the first session extremely apprehensive and not knowing what to expect. We only knew that we needed to be there and that we would try anything to break our patterns of destructive behaviour.
It turned out that the group was the most important support for us. It quickly became a safe place where we could share with other couples the issues that were negatively affecting our relationship. From the group sessions we learned the tools we needed in order to live through our differences in a healthy way. Through real world examples and testimony of conflict scenarios we shared, commented on and observed our real lives as couples within the group.
From the group sessions we learned the tools we needed in order to live through our differences in a healthy way.
As well as the group sessions we have had really valuable home visits from our case worker Valentina. She has enabled us to bring our difficulties to the surface in our own home and is helping us live more positively.
Since starting the programme our lives have improved immeasurably. We are able to address our problems and negotiate solutions in a peaceful way and we are also much more aware of anticipating the best times to address issues. We have become a stronger family unit capable of coping well with the work of parenting. An important skill we have learnt is how to communicate effectively. This has really enabled us to deal with differences and find solutions without launching into an attack or becoming silent. We have also learnt the importance of confiding in each other and becoming allies rather than enemies. We have discovered that recognising each others capabilities, accepting each others differences and expressing our needs in a positive way, are all the things we need to become great parents. We are both now able to enjoy the beauty of our son in a happy and healthy home.
Every day we are putting into practice what we have learnt and we are taking steps to improve our future. Valentina is also supporting us in going forward and securing our future as a couple and as parents. We have found a happy place these last few months, but most importantly we are giving Sophie a happy childhood.
Every day we are putting into practice what we have learnt and we are taking steps to improve our future.
We feel very lucky to have been given the generous support of Family Action through its Parents as Partners Programme. Liz, Hendrix and Valentina have provided practical professional and sensitive information throughout the course. The programme has been a gift for us – an education which we will never forget. We were so impressed with the programme and it far exceeded our expectations. We would tell any couple in a situation like ours not to hesitate in joining the Parents as Partners Programme.