couples counselling

This is a very hard time in history for long term relationships and marriages. Separation and divorce are common and when things get hard, it can feel like there is no alternative to breaking up a relationship.

I believe that if both people want the relationship to work, then it can.

men and counselling

Many of the men I have worked with felt that if they agreed to go into counselling with their partner, they would be put on the spot, made into “the bad guy” and generally ganged up on. Usually, they have less experience with talking about their emotions and it can feel intensely uncomfortable to be put in this situation. I feel that it is my job to address these very legitimate concerns and to make every client feel heard and respected.

Bringing an outside consultant into your relationship can actually take the pressure off instead of adding to your stress. It can take the emphasis off of who is to blame for a current concern and help coach both partners towards understanding and compassion. It can give you the space to really express what it is you desire and to make those things happen. An impartial mediator can mean the difference between a healthy intimate connection and an unhappy home.

common issues

I often see couples who are struggling with…

  • pre-marital concerns
  • feeling locked into negative communication patterns
  • a history of trauma in one or both partners
  • different perspectives on an issue
  • different values
  • family of origin issues
  • love and intimacy problems
  • control issues
  • dependency and co-dependency
  • anger and anger management
  • managing debt, and overcoming financial troubles
  • adjusting to changes such as parenthood, career or housing changes
  • midlife transitions
  • mixed / blended families issues
  • co-parenting issues and approaches
  • feeling trapped in an unhappy marriage
  • infidelity / adultery / affairs
  • separation
  • divorce

approach

EFT, Emotionally Focused Therapy is the main approach that I use with couples. I also integrate John Gottman‘s marriage counselling approach as well as some Family Systems methods. If you want to learn more about these, there is more information here however should the clinical talk bore you, it suffices to say that both EFT and Gottman’s work have been heavily researched with really great results. EFT has a reported 75% of couples moving from distress to recovery, with 86% of couples reporting feeling happier in their relationships.

starting out

Typically I meet with both people first and then I usually do one individual session with each person. In the individual sessions I am usually taking a brief family and relationship history. If money is an issue, I can do 30 or 45 minute sessions with each person. Then we resume meeting all together and we work on…

  • identifying the patterns that leave you feeling distant, hurt and angry
  • hearing each person’s perspective and understanding their motivations
  • discovering where the old patterns came from and the underlying needs and fears that created them
  • letting go of blame
  • learning how to talk to each other in positive ways
  • regaining appreciation for each other
  • remembering why you loved each other in the first place
  • taking the danger out of disagreeing
  • learning how to confront issues
  • learning skills around how to make amends and apologise when things go badly
  • if you have already decided to separate, I try to support you both to make the process as healthy as possible, especially if children are involved

results

Some people wonder if counseling is worth the effort. The outcomes that I have seen for my clients are…

  • a secure bond
  • feeling closer and more connected
  • being able to talk more openly, communicate better
  • feeling excited about future plans together
  • having renewed hope
  • enjoying each other’s company
  • having the confidence to argue without the whole relationship being on the line
  • having the skills to bring up issues in a kind and constructive way
  • being able to disagree and still treat each other with respect
  • being able to discuss and make plans without constant strain
  • speaking to each other with kindness

resources