I was recently interviewed by Ben Starr of The Conversation Arena for their popular podcast of the same name.
Ben wanted me to speak specifically about relationships and relationship counselling.
In this interview, he asks me:
- Why do relationships cause so much pain?
- How much impact do your parents have on your overall view of relationships?
- What do we define as a healthy relationship?
- If you have parents that always argue, does that affect your ability to have a healthy relationship?
- What types of issues do people present with in relationship counselling?
Listen to the interview by clicking above or read the transcript below.
Transcript of interview
This is the Conversation Arena with Ben Starr.
Ben Starr: Relationships and relationship counselling. Well, I thought we’d get a man on the line today who’s an expert of this area. Clinton Power, how are you Clinton?
Clinton Power: I’m very well thanks, Ben how are you?
Ben Starr: Relationships are something that affect us not only personally, but every interaction I think we have is a relationship. Why do they cause people so much pain?
Clinton Power: I think that’s very true that we are in relationship all the time, and when we’re in work relationships there can be problems. What I mostly work with is personal relationships. I think there is something about people coming together in an intimate relationship that really brings up stuff from the past and from what I kind of call unfinished business that no other relationship does.
Ben Starr: How much impact do your parents have on your overall view of relationships when you get into one?
Clinton Power: Well I think it’s a huge impact because when you think about it, they are the role models that we grow up with. In a way, we’ve absorbed their way of relating. Everything we know about relationship starts with the family, so it certainly can’t be discounted.
Ben Starr: So what do we define as the healthy relationship? I mean, if you see your parents together and all they do is argue, but they’re too scared to either have counselling or go their separate ways, surely that’s going to give you a slanted view on what makes a successful relationship because saying that you’ve been together 40 years sometimes is not really a great milestone.
Clinton Power: Yeah, that’s true. It really depends on the quality of the relationship doesn’t it? Arguing or fighting or conflict is not really so much the issue because they can be productive conflicts.
Ben Starr: Sure.
Clinton Power: If your parents did fight or argue, but if you saw them work through those arguments, come to a resolution, come to some kind of common understanding, that actually is an example of a healthy relationship and that can be very helpful for you going forward. But to have to see you grow up in a family where parents stone-walled each other, they ignored each other for days or weeks at a time, perhaps they have explosive conflicts sometimes, domestic violence, that can be incredibly destructive to your kind of own sense of what a healthy relationship is, and it makes it very difficult moving forward in life to then be able to have a healthy relationship because in a way, that has been your model, your blue-print that you’re operating from.
Ben Starr: I suppose in counselling you would see people wanting these healthy relationships, but personally, on a personal level, if you’re not healthy yourself, that’s going to have an impact on your counselling and the overall outcome as well, so you have to work on your own self as well, don’t you?
Clinton Power: Yes, that is true. When it comes to relationship counselling, and this is the great thing about it, and may, it’s a very powerful form of working with people, is that each partner can work on their individual issue within the couple dynamic.
Ben Starr: Mm-hmm (affirmative). When people come to you, what types of things would they present that would start the counselling process, is it an affair that kicked it off or something like that?
Clinton Power: It can be, I mean affairs, some kind of betrayal is common, but also when I work with couples that are just, they’re getting really frustrated because perhaps differences are coming up, they’re dealing with differences of opinion, trying to make decisions and they can’t come to a common agreement and over time that can really wear down the goodwill in the couple relationship if there is lots of criticism or defensiveness, this is something that can really wear each partner down and often I work with couples that are just really frustrated and fed up with fighting, but not finding any kind of resolution, not coming to that common understanding, and of course that then affects everything, your emotional intimacy, your sexual intimacy, as I mentioned, it could impact your desire to want to be with your partner, so it can be as simple as just, being able to really come to common understandings and make decisions to work as a team.
Ben Starr: On your web site you say you long for a healthy relationship that doesn’t constantly cause you pain and it may be you experience some of these things. The pain of constant bickering with your partner about things that never get resolved, feeling alone, a dissatisfied sex life, feeling insecure, you list a whole range of things here and I suppose they’re the types of things that people coming to your office is to seek help with.
Clinton Power: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I’ve noticed over the last ten years is I think the stigma around relationship counselling, or counselling in general, is slowly changing and I think that’s really positive for Australians in general because in, I think, over the years, people have really been wary of reaching out for help. Sometimes they just believe that if I reach out for help that there’s something wrong with me, or this attitude if I can’t fix my relationship myself, no one can help me. I think people are gradually beginning to realise that there can be a real benefit.
Ben Starr: Relationships, as you say, don’t have to be painful so your business, Clinton Power & Associates works on discovering how to create a great relationship. If people would like to get in contact with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Clinton Power: The easiest way, Ben, is to go to my web site, which is Clintonpower.com.au.
Ben Starr: Fantastic, well Clinton, thank you for joining us on the Conversation Arena.
Clinton Power: It’s been my pleasure.
Do you need relationship help?
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.