Our goal is to leverage the wisdom and experience of healthcare practitioners to set you on a path of self-discovery and healing. These insights coupled with a multi-disciplinary approach to each area of interest should provide an invaluable resource to everyone looking for a better approach to health. In this episode, we speak to Simone Poppleton, a registered counsellor based in Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa. She discusses the topic of couples counselling with us, from a registered counsellor perspective.
Spotify Podcast ::
Audio Transcription ::
Welcome to The Moulding Health Show. Our goal is to leverage the wisdom and experience of health care practitioners to set you on a path of self discovery and healing. These insights, coupled with a multidisciplinary approach to each area of interest, should provide an invaluable resource to everyone looking for a better approach to health. In this episode, we speak to Simone Poppleton, a registered counsellor based in Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa. She discusses the topic of couples counselling with us from a registered counsellor perspective.
Shaz :: All right, so welcome to the show. Simone, how are you today?
Simone :: Hello. Shaz, thank you for having me. I’m doing very well. Always lovely to see you. How are you?
Shaz :: I’m very well, thank you. So for those of us just joining us today, Simone and I are going to be discussing couples counselling and specifically what amazing benefits you can get by working with a registered counsellor. So, Simone, what is couples counselling exactly in your view?
Simone :: So couples counselling is a particular branch of counselling. It’s a kind of specialized area in focus in which trained therapists, trained counsellors are going to be working with the romantic relationship with the couple. And they’re going to essentially be trying to guide that couple from moving from a space of some kind of rupture that’s happened in the relationship to some kind of repaired, reconnected space.
Shaz :: Okay, So basically, you know, what you’re saying is why people would seek out assistance around couples counselling is because something’s not right in the relationship. Now, are there any other reasons that people might seek out assistance around couples Counselling?
Simone :: Yes, so obviously you know that would be the I often the crisis management point that some couples might reach where things are not going well and they are needing an external mediator is often the language that couples will use. We need somebody in the room who can mediate what’s happening between us. But there are couples who also use counselling more and proactively. And it’s more of a process of going. We want to maintain the healthiness of the relationship that we currently have. And so they seeking it more, much like any car service, needing to needing service or car needing a service, a relationship would need the same. And I think it’s also recommended just one of the things I would also specifically do, something like pre-marriage Counselling. So that’s also an aspect of couples counselling in which a couple is preparing for the next chapter, preparing for marriage. That’s a lot more of a guided experience as well. There’s obviously certain things that need to be spoken about leading up to something like their wedding in their marriage. And so it’s also a very proactive response to Counselling.
Shaz :: Yeah, And I must admit that premarital Counselling is a lifesaver, especially when there’s arguments about the table seating at the wedding, you know, so and so coming through that nobody remembers but has to be invited because they are family. And I definitely get the idea that, it can be more to repair a relationship or to just help maintain a relationship and in some cases prepare a relationship for the next phase.
Simone :: Exactly
Shaz :: So what could a patient expect from, the couples counselling process? Is there a specific therapeutic plan that they would kind of be put on depending on where they are?
Simone :: Yeah, I think that very much depends on the ranges of Counsellors approach to couples counselling and the and the training that they have. So I’m I’ll speak from my experience just because I’m obviously very passionate about the way that I specifically work with couples. And so it’s also important for couples to know that as they’re doing their discovery and research. So the way that couples will find my approach is that it’s very connection orientated. So in my sessions, that is more of a semi structured, guided experience. I call myself the Couples Guide and because I regard them ultimately as the experts of their relationship, but I’m there to guide them perhaps with different questions, different ways of thinking.
I am teaching them how to be present with one another again. And so mine is a more guided kind of semi structured program that I developed. I felt that couples were often getting stuck in couples counselling or treating it as if it was almost a one way, kind of a way to meet in the week. But there weren’t necessarily doing a lot with that during the rest of the week. And so I felt that having some kind of program meant that we were all kind of committed, we’d invested in the process. We were also moving through it, which met my more transformational approach to couples Counselling. And this was a homework that they will receive that keeps them linked between the sessions so that they feel as if they’re actually applying what we learn in the session between the weeks. And then obviously, I’m able to get that feedback immediately in the next week.
How did that work? What didn’t work? And then we learn the next relational concepts and we kind of scaffold and build the blocks in order to ensure that they have the relationship that they longing for. And so that’s the way that I predominantly work. But I also am very aware that that doesn’t work for all couples because sometimes there needs to be some kind of more groundwork done before we can move into the more teaching guided process. And so during that intake session is where I’ll make that decision of whether we’re going to follow a little bit more of that structured approach or whether I’m going to need to do it more work beforehand to get them there. So that might mean we do individual work before. It might mean that I kind of take what happens in the session and focus on what shows up. So there’s space for both.
Shaz :: But that’s absolutely amazing. So, you know, basically, if you really break that down, you are almost like the hero’s guy. The couple is the hero, but you’re the one kind of guiding them through the challenges and adventures that they might face and kind of teaching them that, you know, you need to do this together, otherwise you’re not going to reach that end goal. That is an absolutely amazing way of putting it that, you know, you are the guide for a couple rather than you are the instructor or the professor or, you know, you’re guiding them, you know, quick. And you obviously lean into what they’re telling you in order to be able to help guide that. That is an absolutely phenomenal approach. So how long would couples normally remain in couples counselling?
Simone :: Yeah, I just want to touch on what you say, because I really connect with that exactly. That hero’s got it. I do call it the hero’s journey because that’s very much what they’re going on as a couple. And it’s also important to think that we often come into counselling thinking that their relationship is like a problem to be solved. But I really think that marriage and relationships are an adventure to be had. So it’s about us going on a journey together. You know me as their guide, almost as if we’re river drafting. My role is to kind of guide where we’re going to flow with where the water takes us as well. And sometimes it’ll take us down another path, but we might just find something absolutely wonderful. So it’s very an open process.
And typically couples will be in Counselling, at least in the way that I work from anything between nine to 11 weeks. So that’s just over two months, two and a half to three months. And I think it is important for couples to remember that. And I actually have a magic wand in my in my room just to remind couples that this is not a magic process. I don’t just wave this wand as much as I wish many times that I could and that everything’s going to be fixed. Instead, it’s going this is an opportunity to go through a process and a journey. But it’s also merely the beginning. You know, it really is saying now that we have the tools they didn’t have to keep applying. That is a lifelong process. And that’s why maintenance sessions are so important long after they finish the formal program approach. So whether that’s once a month for some couples, sometimes it’s, you know, every three months or four months, but it’s just a sense of going. We touch base and we say, can we tweak this? What about this? This isn’t working. This is going great. And I really love it when couples do that.
Shaz :: I love that approach because basically what it is, is, you know, here’s the guide, but, you know, sometimes you go, of course. So most people that know me know that I’m a huge geek and I’m a big gamer. So I tend to go off on tangents, on side quests. And I would assume it’s very similar with couples Counselling, although the main quest is to get to a ripe old age together and sit on the porch and reminisce about our years together. There are times where maybe we divert onto a side quest and that’s where those maintenance sessions would come in to just pull us back to the main quest, you know? So I love that analogy of come back for a maintenance session and touch base with your guide to go, OK, this really didn’t work. You know, maybe we shouldn’t have gone climbing up that mountain, whereas, you know, this was phenomenal. You know, the Mai Tai‘s on the beach were. So I really love that concept of, you know, it’s not a one stop shop. It’s not a magic wand. You do have to work on it and you have to remember to come back, you know, every now and then just to realign and make sure that you still going in the same direction.
Simone :: So do I like that.
Shaz :: So what would a couple be able to expect during couples counselling sessions? I know that you’re taking them on a guided journey, but what would be kind of things that if somebody was to ask you coming in, you know, what can I expect in the next nine or 11 weeks? What would you be able to advise?
Simone :: So the intake is always very important because during that time, I gather and collect as much information as I can. And during that process, I will also then use that session as an opportunity to give a almost a summarized view of going. This is what I’m noticing in this space. Is this correct? Most important for me to ensure that I have got them and and that I’ve heard them right. So it’s a great opportunity for them to also assess whether my approach fits in and is in line with what the challenges are or where they are. And I also like to regard problems, if that’s what they call them, as actually a time of transition. So couples will often hear me use the more language of abundance rather than language of deficits and recessions. So rather than what you don’t want, tell me what you do want so that we actually have an idea of where we’re working toward.
And so I start modeling these ideas, these concepts, very much from the beginning of our process. I will also use quite a lot of visualizations as a way for them just to connect out of the head and more inside the body so they’ll see that. I’ll ask them questions like where do you feel that in your body? And at the very beginning, people find that a very difficult question. And often the answer is in my head. And it just gives me an idea and a reminder of how often we are very disconnected actually from our own bodies. But that’s actually what we need to connect to, to be present with our partners. So it’s very important for me that I also teach my clients how to actually be present with their own bodies. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience where as we go through the weeks, couples start using the words that I’ve used with them and they say that those are the words they’re using at home together. I find that incredibly just a very rewarding thing. So they’ll often find that in the intake. I’ll get that information, I will summarize it, and then I will actually introduce them to my approach from the very first session, because I do think it’s important for them to make an informed decision about my work.
And so during that time, I introduce them to something called the connection. It’s very much the foundation of the way that I work, and it’s about moving us from just kind of communication to actually being in communion with one another. So what that means is being fully present with your eyes, with your body, with your hands sitting very close together, very difficult for some couples. They haven’t done that in a long time. And I kind of ask them, be brave with me. Like, just trust me. Allow me to take you on this courageous journey. And I’m very grateful that they do allow me that. So when I introduce them to that very early on and it’s a it’s a beautiful, powerful experience for many couples just being in that close proximity. And so the way that I work is very much about teaching people the art of connection and that actual empathetic communication. So that’s every single week I’ll teach you a concept so that I will apply it to the relationship. And depending on what we spoke about in that first session and always ended or for some kind of homework that they have to do until I see them the next time.
Shaz :: So that’s where the whole concept of rooted in love comes from, it’s the root of what makes the relationship and how do you connect those roots to actually grow with your partner instead of growing away from your partner? I love that. So is there any advice that you could give as a registered counselor to a person or a couple that might be considering Couples Counselling? You know, what would they be looking at or thinking when you kind of start sitting there going, you know, maybe I need to think about going for couples Counselling? It’s never an easy thing. I mean, we’ll hear about it all the time in the movies. You know what? OK, well, let’s go for couples Counselling. But at what point does it become more of that educated, OK, informed decision? We need to go for couples counselling because ABC, what advice would you be able to give her on that?
Simone :: I think if you starting to have any of those thoughts, my recommendation is to do it because those thoughts are there for a reason. And sometimes we reach a growth age in our relationships that require us to get external additional assistance, support, guidance. And so rather than expecting that we need to be doing relationships, marriage on our own, you know, we’re not created as people to be kind of be silos. So even marriages or relationships don’t exist just on their own. They actually best done within the context of a village, essentially. So kind of Counselling is part of that village that comes along to support that process. And so my recommendation is, is to take that first step. It’s brave, not always honor my clients for taking that first step of making a call, maybe sending an email. It takes a lot of courage to and vulnerability to accept that you perhaps need to get additional support. And even if you are in a healthy space, it’s easier to say, oh, but we’re doing so well. So to actually take that leap of faith and takes a lot of courage and that weighs on my clients for that.
And I think it again, it is just important to get a sense of the you know, as you’re reading up, as you’re doing that discovery time, really looking at what connects with you, you may not know a lot about Counselling or about psychology or about the different theories, but as you read, to see what lands you go, oh, I really love the way he or she said that that really connects with me. And that’s often what I find. Couples, that’s how they choose me, for example, is that they would have looked at different people and said, you said something like this on your website. And that really connected with me. And and that’s why I chose you, you know. So it’s often just that kind of organic process. And it’s my encouragement is to kind of trust that intuition. I don’t believe in coincidences. I think that, you know, clients and the council are very much chosen in many ways for each other. And there’s something about the way that I work things online, the fact that I am a little bit more semi structured that does attract particular clients. And I think trust that got trust your intuition.
Shaz :: Yeah, I have to agree there. You know that we always say you’ve got a gut instinct for a reason, and that does make a lot of sense. So if you’re feeling in your gut that maybe you need a little bit of help or a little bit of guidance just to reconnect with your partner, then, you know, that would be kind of the time to start doing that discovery research to see, you know, is there somebody that I connect with or that my partner and I connect with that would be a good person to try and maybe see, can this person help us with that small gut feeling, you know, the people in the back of your throat? Maybe, you know, we need a little bit of help. So couples counselling really in that aspect then would be about, you know, we need a little bit of help. This isn’t a you know, we’re on the brink of divorce. This is you know, we just need some sort of help to keep the relationship kind of flourishing as opposed to pushing each other apart.
Simone :: Exactly. That’s right, I think that often regard relationships, marriage as being almost like you sit on, as you say, you obviously sailing in a ship. And the difficult thing is that people don’t realize that, particularly with something like marriage, that you are having to sail and build your marriage ship at exactly the same time. We don’t build this beautiful ship in the dry docks before we married and then we sail into the sunset. You you’re building and sailing at the same time. And so I think that sometimes couples get to the point where they realize the ship that has got us to this point served us well and it got us here. But maybe we need to rebuild the ship. Maybe there’s some, you know, cracks, maybe there’s a leak in it. Maybe we just need to change the whole shape of it because we don’t need such a big one anymore. You know, it’s times of transitions that couples look and go, oh, you know, children have grown. We’ve just had our first child. We’re moving country. There’s a sense of going this change. So change the ship. And that’s very much the way that I work of going. What is the kind of ship you want to build and where are we sailing to?
Shaz :: That’s an absolutely amazing concept. So if somebody was looking to reach out to you and set up a session for them and their partner, you know, how would they get into contact with you?
Simone :: They are welcome to contact me through my social media pages, all of my information is on there as well. And so it is called Rooted in Love Counselling. And please feel free to email, WhatsApp, phone call all of the above. And I really look forward to hearing from them.
Shaz :: Wonderful. I will include all of your contact information in the session notes after the session. Are there any other areas of special interest for you? I mean, I know that you do coffee with a counselor. Could you give me a little bit more information on what that is and where that kind of targets people within the counselling spectrum? I know we are talking about couples Counselling, but sometimes a couple doesn’t necessarily have to be partners. It could be a parent and a child, am I right?
Simone :: Absolutely. Thank Shaz. Yes. So I felt at a particular point that there was a need for a more social but still safe space in a very non-threatening, intimidating way for people to receive some kind of therapeutic input without it needing to be the more formal counselling style. And I felt that there was just this need for somebody to be maybe seeing a counsellor without needing to be going to counselling. And I created this coffee with the counsellor and they often are aimed towards women as opposed to just because I have this passion for kind of being talking about real issues as a woman to woman. But obviously, when I do particular more couple based ones, everybody is welcome. And so, you know, there’s different therapeutic themes to each of these workshops.
We’ve done vision boards we’ve done bullet journals, and they do have some kind of activity. And there’s always bottomless coffee. Obviously, during covid, we then had to change those and become they turned to more of an online space webinar style. So that has a different feel, but it still has the same intention and heart of it. And it’s very much my heart project. And I’m able to connect with people and a lot more of a social way and very passionate about speaking about mental health, about couples counselling. And I feel like there’s such an opportunity for people to get to know what it’s about in a way that doesn’t feel intimidating. I also hope that it’s a doorway. Sometimes people attend coffee with the counselor to get a sense of me, a sense of the space and then feel a lot more comfortable to actually attend more formal counselling. So that’s always an option for people as well.
Shaz :: So it’s a safe space for people considering maybe we do need counselling to be in a more group casual environment to see, OK, is this you know, is this the correct boat for us as a couple? Or maybe this is, I really love that concept of just having this function where if I’m thinking about counselling that I think, OK, well, this looks interesting. And we can go and have coffee and we can chat and we can talk to somebody else who might be going through the same. So in that aspect, although it’s a guided Counselling session, it’s also giving you’re giving couples the opportunity to maybe speak to other couples and see how they resolved an issue. That’s coming up. I think it’s an amazing concept. So, yeah, it’s just it’s a phenomenal Idea, I’ve never heard of a counselor or a psychologist doing something like that, and it really just speaks to that idea of, you know, this is a really nice way to just see if this is a right fit for me.
Simone :: Absolutely. And I love the idea of them meeting others, I think has been such a sweet social and friendships that have blossomed from that, that space where people get to know each other and share vulnerably with what initially really strangers. But there’s something that really connects you when they that me too moment you sitting in a room with people you don’t know. But suddenly there’s a shared experience. And I always find that very, very empowering and very encouraging. And it’s also been great for me on the other side of that, also start collaborating with other practitioners who might specialize in certain things. So some of them are more just creative people. Some of them are actually Counsellors themselves. And we bring our strengths into that space. And that’s been wonderful. It’s also partner with other kind of female owned businesses who are also looking to just empower people.
Shaz :: Well, thank you so much for that, I can’t wait to hear more about some of the adventures that you go on during your time as a registered counselor, and we will we will put all the session notes up so that people know how to contact Simone at rooted in love Counselling. I think if you are ever having an issue or you think you might be having an issue, reach out, it’s the best thing that you could do for you as a young couple, as a married couple, as an older couple to just keep that bond together. So any closing thoughts from your side? Simone.
Simone :: And no, I think that we’ve been able to have a lot of it, I think probably my last thing would just be to say that when I think of what I ultimately when I chose couples counselling specifically, I had originally thought I was going to be working with children. And when I really thought about it, I realized that it was really the parents who have the most influence on a child’s life. And, you know, my individual work, obviously, that comes through quite predominantly as well. And so I often say the relational space between couples is actually where the relationship lives. It’s not in each of them, but actually in the space they create between them. And it’s also what I call the children’s playground. And so it’s just an encouragement of going, you know, be proactive decide in the space that you want your young families to grow up in. And it’s never too late. I think that’s most important of going. It’s it’s never too late to make that decision to change the way that that space feels for you as a couple. And even if there is 10 per cent hope, I work with that.
Shaz :: That’s absolutely phenomenal. Thank you so much for joining me today. And I can’t wait to do another session with you will meet for coffee and decide what our next topic would be. But thank you so much for today Simone. Have a super afternoon.
Simone :: Thank you so much Shaz. I will look forward to that coffee.
Hey, everyone, thanks for listening, as always, stay tuned and we’ll speak to you in the next episode.
To book an appointment with Simone please click on the button below