Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.28 19 Feb 2021


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Some relationship counsellors are recording a 100% increase in inquiries for help since lockdown, a Newstalk survey has found.

Every couples' counsellor contacted by Newstalk Breakfast reported a spike in demand for services in the last year.

Some practices say they have had to hire extra staff to help clear waiting lists.

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Helen Vaughan is a Psychotherapist and Owner of Maynooth Counselling and Psychotherapy.

She said the rise in demand from couples seeking help is 'definitely' something she has experienced as well.

She observed: "January is a big month for us, and after the summer can be a big time... but these have been almost double what they'd usually be.

"If you think about it, it's not really surprising. Has anyone really spent that much time with their partner and possibly children before now?

"It's going on for nearly a year now, and it's hugely stressful and intense.

"It's kind of obvious it would have an impact, and people shouldn't feel bad if they are finding conflict at home, their partner is annoying them or they're feeling more irritable than usual."

Stuck at home

Helen said people usually have their recreational and social activities outside the home, but that - not to mention work - has now moved to the home.

She observed: "People are now relying on their other half to be the only person they talk to... the only adult they talk to.

"Partners are playing the role of friend, confidante, family as well as partner."

She said some people may be feeling anxious without realising it.

That may be coming out 'in all sorts of different ways' the person isn't even consciously aware of - including taking out their frustrations or anxiety on their partner.

With romantic outings like restaurant dates now off the table, Helen recommended people should try to fit in the likes of nice takeaways, a film night or a walk together.

However, she stressed people shouldn't feel bad if they can't find the time for that given the current circumstances.

If people's relationship difficulties are worsening, Helen said most couples' counsellors are offering online therapy.

She said it's important to not wait until the situation reaches a crisis point.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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