Does Couples Counselling Work?

Marcus Dabb
3 min readFeb 17


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Brain Scans & Relationship Insights

How many relationships do you know of that you would regard as high functioning and responsible for bringing out the best in each person?

Neuroscientist Bianca Acevedo and her colleagues took brain scans of people in long-term relationships and discovered that only 10% were fulfilling and happy.

Most people struggle to nurture the conditions necessary for a flourishing relationship and maintain interactions that result in passionate coupledom, which the researchers dubbed as ‘swans’.

As with so many other areas of life, our childhoods set the framework for our attachment style, schemas, anusayas and other blindspots which sabotage our chances for optimal connection and leave us in the ugly duckling stage of development.

The poet Rafiq Kathwari captured the common experience many of us felt as children in his one-line poem, On Receiving Father at JFK After His Long Flight From Kashmir:

“As I open my arms wide, he extends his hand.”

We could speculate on the reasons why the father opted for a handshake but suffice to say it takes maturity to realise most parents did the best they could and it takes a lifetime to realise that feeling loved and complete is ultimately an inside job.

Phil Stutz grew up with a violent father who up and left him as a child. After so many years of being battered his mother concluded that all men were worthless. From a young age, Stutz was repeatedly told he would be worthless unless he became a doctor.

He gained a medical degree and then trained as a psychiatrist blending science with intuition to develop his own theories.

Stutz claims that there are some unavoidable aspects of reality we must accept before we can move forward in life. The first step he offers patients is to accept the Aspects of Reality — being pain, uncertainty and constant work.

From the perspective of Carl Jung, within our psyche our ego identity is far more developed than our self is.

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Constant work, pain and uncertainty are all anathemas to the ego.

Is it any wonder the Disney, or fairytale picture of love is so appealing to us?

Being primed to think the right relationship will be smooth sailing and constant magic has become the mirage of our times.

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