Couples Therapy / Marriage Counselling for couples wanting to improve the quality of your relationship today through better communication.
If you are reading this page, you may be looking for help with your relationship or searching for information for a friend. This page will help give you an idea of how I work with couples who are experiencing relationship difficulties. I will also address some of what I do not work with.
Often when a relationship begins to deteriorate there is a lack of healthy communication. Couples may experience criticism, feelings of contempt, defensive behaviour, and stonewalling. Most couples are likely to engage in these communication styles at some point. However, if it becomes a regular way life, these counterproductive behaviours can have a very negative impact on your relationship.
Often feelings of frustration, lack of energy or difficult situations such as caring for elderly parents, trust issues, different parenting styles or unresolved intimacy issues can lead to a breakdown in the relationship and leave couples feeling bewildered.
The Counselling Process
I see the following stages in couples therapy and intend to work as collaboratively as possible. This means I will use a good amount of psychoeducation with clients.
Stage 1 – Information Gathering
Information is vital to understanding what has brought clients into therapy. My aim in this phase is to get as much of an understanding of you both as individuals and as a couple, what attracted you to each other initially, any historical events that are causing problems and what external factors may be contributing to the problem. This might take the form of questionnaire to save time in session, seeking understanding about your family of origin’s ways of managing conflict, family messages, life events and so on. This stage is crucial to understanding the couple as a whole and as individuals. We might spend 1-3 sessions depending on the complexity and new information may surface throughout therapy.
Stage 2 – Understanding Stage
This stage helps to give more clarity to what is going on (relationship dynamics) that is causing distress and understanding about the origin of the issue and how it is impacting communication and connection in the here and now. For example, this might highlight that one person seek reassurance when they feel insecure in the relationship and the other partner might tend to withdraw because they had bad experiences around conflict. This combination of proximity seeking by one and withdrawal in another can be a great source of distress in a couple, as it leaves them unable to resolve issues that arise. This is just one example.
Stage 3 – Moving towards Action (Making a change)
This stage is equally as important as the previous stages as without action, there is no change. Action is key to change. This stage can sometimes feel a little awkward and forced because it is a deliberate act. Change is about making a conscious decision to respond differently in challenging circumstances. By this stage we will have explored the issue and its origins and have a better understanding of any unhelpful patterns that have developed over time. We will then agree any necessary interventions, which might be exercises to increase communication skills, help to remain connected during conflict rather than reverting to previous unhelpful patterns such as withdrawal, persecution, stonewalling etc.
How many sessions?
Usually, I see couple for approximately 8-12 sessions. This can be shorter or longer and depends on how engrained the issues are and how willing each partner is to engage in the process between sessions. Sessions are usually held weekly or fortnightly. When there is a high amount of distress I may suggest weekly with the view to moving to fortnightly in due course.
Helpful links and videos
Over time I have made use of a variety of useful videos, diagrams, and worksheets. If you are interested in viewing these please click here.
Areas I do not work with at the moment
How much do sessions cost?
My fees can be found on my fees page.
If you have further questions you are welcome to get in touch for a free 15-20 minute chat to ask questions if you are interested in couples therapy or marriage counselling.
Recommended books – If couples like to be proactive, I would encourage books like Stop Arguing, Start Talking by Relate