The process of change.
Marriage counselling, couple therapy, relationship counselling, marriage coaching… Whatever you call it, the one thing I have learned in over 12 years working with couples is that every relationship requires a unique approach.
By stepping up to this important work you are deciding to share some of the heavy-lifting by inviting a professional couple therapist into the life of your relationship to help you set a clear direction for change.
Every couple I meet in Harley Street, London or in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, brings with them a different vision for their relationship and different needs and expectations. Since the pandemic arrived in March 2020, that experience has moved online, but while Covid has created unique stresses and trauma, the needs and expectations of couples have remained unchanged.
I view couple therapy as two individuals plus a ‘third’… that ‘third’ starts out as myself in the role as your therapist, but over our time together, the third role will transition to that of your relationship. The relationship itself will gain a voice and be able to speak for itself. The relationship will start to express how it felt when you first created it and what has changed since that time. It will often express relief that you are now seeking help to restore some of the values that may have been lost.
HoW CHANGE HAPPENS
In the first session, we will discover your best hopes and what you need to create the change you most desire. While I’m trained in 6 different approaches to couple therapy, I can assure you I will not be pulling out a manual or using any pre-set program. I will take an integrative approach and deeply listen to each of you and to your relationship. I will discover the challenges you are facing, how you got to where you are and what kind of relationship you want for the future. In this way, we will collaboratively create a plan for change.
I’m aware that if you are reaching out for help, you need to experience some change as quickly as possible. While it’s important to explore what happened in your past, the only reason to do this is to identify how this impacts the way you show up in your relationship today. But I promise you this won’t take months, In our first few sessions, we will move quickly to uncover what is really going on. Ultimately we will discover both the strengths of the relationship and identify any self-defeating patterns of behaviour…You will learn how to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
I can assure you that no matter what you’re dealing with, you can confidently bring this into our therapeutic space. I offer a non-judgemental and inclusive approach and I can cope with whatever you throw at me, including:
- Verbal abuse and coercive control
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Porn and sexual addiction
- Long-term relationships not defined by marriage
- Relationships with a significant age difference
- Blended families
- Retrospective jealousy
- Grandiose and narcissistic behaviour
- Partners with a history of multiple marriages
- Interfaith and intercultural marriages and relationships
- Polyamory and open relationships
- BDSM, kink and other sexual diversity
- & many more issues
I’m highly experienced in working with complex relationships, including same-sex marriage and all elements of sexual and relationship diversity. I don’t need to refer out to other therapists or supervisors when I encounter a challenging situation. We can deal with your issues with a sense of confidentiality and privacy. You only need to be open to the process and committed to our work together and we can find a way forward to a place of growth and change.
Thank you for all your help, you tuned in to our relationship very quickly and worked out what was going on extremely empathetically and effectively.
– Couple married for 7 years, Sydney, Australia: 2020
Starting alone or together
While many couples arrive ready to get started, I understand that others may feel some uncertainty and apprehension around commencing couples therapy. Often one partner is more on-board than the other, so it may be necessary to start with just one partner. However, over many years I’ve come to see that it only takes one partner to make a significant change to the dynamics of the relationship.
The first step is for us to arrange a 20-minute complimentary introductory call. You can either attend together as a couple or by yourself. During this call, we will discuss your relationship situation. I will get a sense of where you might be stuck or stalled and suggest how I can best help you to achieve the change you are seeking.
If you then decide to proceed you only need to commit to your first session. After your first session, you will have the option to commit to a reduced fee plan or package of multiple sessions. However, I believe it’s important that we meet for that first session so you can feel comfortable moving forward. If you encounter any therapists (or coaches) who try to pressure you into a package of multiple sessions before you have experienced at least one session with them, you have a clear signal that you may want to find someone with a more ethical approach.
Scheduling a time
I appreciated the complex demands of work and childcare. I will try to be as flexible as possible with scheduling your first and any subsequent appointments and I’ll do my best to provide as many options as possible. Working online now gives us greater flexibility and enables me to provide more evening and weekend appointments. It also allows me to provide my services to clients in the UK, Australia and the UAE, regardless of where I am located during pandemic challenges and other travel.
Your First session
Your first session will either be a couples session of 90-minutes or if you’re on your own, an individual session of 60-minutes. Prior to your first session, I may send you an assessment questionnaire which will help me to get a clearer picture of where you are stuck in the developmental stages of your relationship. This saves time in the first session and helps us to make a powerful start.
We will get to work right away. You won’t find me engaging in a long slow process to explore your emotional issues. While it’s important to understand and connect with who you both are and how you created the relationship together, I also want to help you leave our first session with a sense that it was helpful and that you can start making change happen right away.
What to expect during our time together
- In-depth facilitated conversations empowering each of you to speak deeply about the issues that are of most importance, without exploding or disintegrating into conflict and anger. It is also an opportunity to feel deeply seen and heard…perhaps for the first time with real validation and empathy.
- How to manage and self-regulate anxiety and stress…especially how to communicate, disagree and argue without falling apart or becoming hijacked by anger, blame, criticism and condemnation.
- An exploration of your individual family of origin history, both the strengths and the self-destructive patterns…Most importantly, how what you both learned in the past impacts how you show up with each other in the relationship today.
- A deep dive into your individual love “templates” and attachment strategies…what they mean, how they impact your relationship “dance” and how to modify them and learn new strategies.
- A review of your sexual self-awareness and how you express and talk about intimacy and connection…essentially designed to get you both back on track in your intimate relationship.
- Getting a clear vision of the relationship you want to create together, the partners you each aspire to be in that relationship and what is required to make it happen.
- Ultimately, learning how to enjoy, embrace and celebrate your differences…to be independent but together, secure in both love and safety as well as danger and desire…Evolving to a place of synergy where one plus one becomes greater than two!
Investing in lasting change
Given that each couple is unique, it’s very difficult to give you a definitive answer about how long the process will take. The answer to this question is very much dependent on what needs to be resolved and your level of commitment to change. However, I believe that couple therapy should be highly focused and brief. I have found that an initial 4-6 sessions can usually help to significantly reduce conflict, rebuild trust and gain clarity and confidence about the next steps. I go deeper and create permanent change, I recommend 12 sessions. Your sessions are usually best scheduled bi-weekly/fortnightly over 6 months, but weekly options are also available. We can discuss this during your first session and agree on the plan that best suits your needs.
Sometimes Individual issues such as personal trauma, anxiety and substance misuse can emerge from couples therapy. These issues are best addressed in individual sessions, which can take longer and require a very different approach.
I can’t decide if I should stay or go
If one of you is uncertain about whether you want to remain in the marriage or to separate, this is called a ‘mixed agenda’. This can be a difficult place to start couples therapy so I offer an alternative approach for this situation called discernment counselling. This process is not about ‘fixing’ your problems but is designed to first help you understand how you got to this point and to then gain clarity and confidence about the decisions you are now faced with together. Please visit my Discernment Counselling page.
Something is missing
Surprisingly, many couples come to see me and say there’s nothing really wrong…” we’re not fighting or having communication issues, but I feel there’s something missing…I want more sex, better sex, more connection, more fun or more freedom…” or perhaps, “I want us to be better parents…” Whatever it is that may be “missing” can be a great place to start couples therapy. We will identify the strengths and values of the relationship. We can then go deeper in building on those values and to powerfully connect to new possibilities.
Fighting in the sessions
It’s inevitable that our work will trigger intense and challenging feelings, which is a helpful part of the process. But I can assure you that I won’t let you waste your time and money by constantly fighting or getting out of control during our time together. I will help you both to focus on what is essential and how to make the sessions productive and helpful.
Ideals vs reality
Couple therapy is not about striving for perfection. You look at other couples and you watch movies and read books that seem to reinforce the ideal relationship and of course, you start thinking, why is my relationship so hard…surely it should not have to be such a struggle?
Couple therapy is partly about abandoning the concept of the ideal marriage and the pressures this concept creates. It’s about moving from that idea to place of creating an authentic relationship shaped by reality.
Of course, you argue. Maybe you have doubts and think about leaving, or wish that sex was more satisfying and fun. Maybe you think that I shouldn’t have to work so hard to make this work. However, in our work together, you will come to understand that these thoughts are all part of a healthy relationship. Rather than seeking to eliminate these thoughts, couple therapy will show you how to create a more meaningful and intimate connection by using the doubts and moments of discord to strengthen your relationship and build a deeper connection,
Whether at my Harley Street, London practice, in Sydney or Melbourne or online wherever you are in the world, let me help you to work through both the rupture and the repair so you can then form a deep, lasting and trusting relationship.
Schedule your complimentary consultation.
Please submit a consultation request and I will contact you within 24 hours.