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Couples counselling for students

Gazette LogoAfter 24 years of listening, advising and listening some more, it’s safe to say David Mensink of the Dalhousie Counselling Services Centre has seen it all.

“The number one reason I see couples is due to problematic arguing and verbal fighting, while a close second is infidelity,” he says.

He says that while the data hasn’t ever been collected, the majority of people who come in to talk about their relationships are slightly older than undergraduates, although some undergraduates come in for counselling as well. He says this is due to the fact that most people who come into counselling are in long-term relationships and those are more commonly associated with graduate students.

Amanda Lockett is an exception. She is a first-year history student currently involved in a long-term relationship and just recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with her partner. She says she “can’t think of a circumstance where the best option would be to talk to a stranger” about the problems in her relationship. She feels that adding another person to the problem just adds to the problem as a whole.

Others are more open to counselling as an alternative to keeping things private.

Gordo Fraser, an undergraduate psychology student, thinks that counselling can be a good thing. “If both parties are willing to sit down and talk then surely that shows that you both want to make the relationship work, which has to count for something.”

This time of year, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, most couples are enjoying being in one another’s company. But what happens when a tough phase comes along?

Logan Macdonald, a recently single graduate student, admits he isn’t ready for a serious commitment. Like many students, he feels that he is in a transitional period of his life and a relationship just isn’t in the cards. Even during his last commitment, he says counselling wasn’t an option.

“There were enough problems in that relationship that I felt that a counsellor would be a waste of time,” he says. His attitude for counselling in general is that “there are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Mensink has a different approach. He suggests coming to see him on the fourth floor of the Student Union Building.

The counselling service is offered by Dal and is available to anyone so long as one member of the couple is a student at Dal, King’s or NSCAD.

Mensink adds that “couples need not be married or even living together to engage in couples counselling.”

If a one-on-one situation is a little too daunting then Mensink offers a Couple’s Group in May and June of each year. More information can be found on the counselling services website at

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