Couples therapy can be detrimental to individuals and relationships if not managed by an adequately trained therapist. It is incredibly important that you make sure your therapist has speciality training in working with couples.
I have a Master's Degree in Relationship and Couples Therapy and am very passionate about working with couples. Although problem solving and conflict resolution skills can be helpful to couples in distress, most couples come to therapy with significantly deeper issues.
Problem solving skills merely touch the surface. Once couples are emotionally connected, feeling safe with each other and have worked through long standing pain or resentments, they are often able to solve their everyday problems very well on their own.
Sometimes couples will initiate therapy after there has been a betrayal, whether through the form of an affair or other means of deception. It is important that the couple experience a sense of containment and support during this time and that therapy is able to offer them pathways to connecting and healing when emotions are so raw. Understanding what can be helpful and what can inflame wounds during this time is paramount to good couple's therapy.
I work with heterosexual, same-sexed, polyamorous and neural diverse couples to achieve their relationship goals.
Couples will often present to counselling when they:
Feel unsupported by each other
Feel that they are always competing with each other
Are no longer sexually or emotionally intimate
Lead separate lives under the one roof
Have patterns of stonewalling and pursuing
Are questioning the future of their relationship
Are unable to access the bond they once felt
Are dealing with the aftermath of an affair or betrayal
Are coping with illnesses or mental health issues
Are managing a new baby or other life transitions
Have different views on parenting
Have difficulties with in-laws or extended family members
Are coping with the restructuring of their relationship after their children have left home
There are a number of theories and therapeutic approaches that underpin my couple's therapy treatment model.
This relates to how current styles of intimacy reflect early on childhood attachments. Many people struggle between the need for intimacy and the need for independence. If early childhood relationships have been characterised by too much emotional distance or have been too suffocating, fears, reactions and patterns of unhealthy behaviour can be set in place as a response or to protect one's self from the feelings of emotional abandonment or envelopment. Attachment theory postulates that developing insight into one's own attachment processes and working through the anxiety that comes from them can support the creation of healthy, securely attached, relationships.
The Gottman Method
The Gottman Method is an approach to couples therapy that integrates research-based interventions based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. The goals of Gottman Method Couples Therapy are to disarm conflicting verbal communication; increase intimacy, respect, and affection; remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy; and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
This concentrates on how couples can better identify, experience, explore, manage and transform their emotional experiences.
This looks at the neurobiological processes that take place during couples interactions and how to manage these to support the development of emotionally attached relationships. Some relationship behaviour patterns can lead to a threat response being triggered in the brain, even if the situation is not actually threatening. Once the threat response is triggered, the individual's natural defence mechanisms are activated. These are fight, flight or freezing (sometimes acted out as 'stonewalling' in couples).
Couples counselling can support couples in understanding their cycle of evoking a threat response in each other and develop insights into behaviours that can neurologically enhance their bonding.
This is a process in relationships that involves developing a stronger sense of self while also developing a more connected relationship to your partner. Often in problematic relationships one partner (or both partners) has sacrificed their sense of self for the sake of the relationship or has sacrificed the relationship for their sense of self. Differentiation involves supporting the couple in their desire for both belonging and independence. Counselling can help create healthy relationship parameters.
Couples Systems Therapy
This approach focuses on identifying specific behaviour patterns within the couple and how each member responds to anxiety within the dynamic. By doing this, the couple can begin to understand and transform their patterns to more adaptive, productive ones.
Communication Skills Training
This focuses on enhancing communication skills using a variety of techniques including those utilised in IMAGO therapy. Communication Skills training also focuses on increasing the desire to use effective communication skills and to bringing a healing attitude towards utilising skills.
No matter how effective communication skill sets can be, it will only be nourishing if it is used with the right attitude. Communication is constructed in such a way as to facilitate the recognition and development of knowledge, strengths, emotional intimacy and support for the couple.
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”