Couples TherapyOut beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field….I’ll meet you there - Rumi
Private Therapy Sessions: These couples counselling sessions can be 50 minutes or 80 minutes.
Intensive Therapy: I offer Intensive Therapy for couples who want to work on their relationship over two full days. Intensive Therapy will fast-track your progress in your relationship.Download the registration form
Couples Workshops: I recommend that couples attend a Couples Workshop (See Workshops section). This condenses the knowledge and processes into one weekend which gives you an excellent foundation. The weekend workshops are equivalent to months of couples’ therapy. You then have the option of private follow-up sessions with me to help you fine-tune your relationship.
Couples therapy has ripple effects on other relationships. When you clear the space between you and create an intentional, conscious, more relationally mature way of relating with your partner, this learning will extend to your relationship with your children, your loved ones and friends and even with others who “push your buttons”. If you have children, the quality of your relationship will have a direct impact on their development. The space between you as a couple is their “Playground”. This is where your children learn how to be in relationship.
Our relationships need time and attention to thrive. In the words of Ursula K. Le Guin: “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
In my work with couples, I draw on the following couples’ therapy approaches:
- Emotionally-focused couples therapy
- Imago couples therapy
- Encounter-centred couples therapy
Emotionally-focussed couples therapy
what is Emotionally-Focussed Couples Therapy (EFT)? (not to be confused with another therapy model: EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques)
Research shows that EFT therapy has a 75% success rate with couples with 86% of couples reporting feeling happier in their relationships. Of importance is that the effects of the therapy are long-lasting.
To quote Dr Sue Johnson: “EFT is based on 50 years of research into human bonding and 30 years of research from our lab into helping couples connect and thrive. We really don’t have to simply fall in and out of love anymore. We now have a map to the territory called love and we can empower couples by showing them new systematic ways to take control of dances of disconnection and conflict and, even more important, help each other move into the open close embrace that is a secure loving bond.”
Emotionally focused couples therapy, developed by Canadian psychologist, Dr Sue Johnson, is based on 30 years of research conducted on adult love and the process of bonding in couples. EFT therapy is based on attachment theory, which states that we need to feel safe in our connections with others and that we are made healthier by emotional contact. EFT has identified differences in how couples relate to each other and how these differences are critical to whether a relationship is successful or has difficulties. This couples counselling approach helps couples understand their own emotional responses as well as those of significant people in their lives. The aim of EFT is to increase security, closeness, and connection in couples.
Difficulties develop when couples are unable or do not know how to meet each other’s emotional needs. Conflict follows and the couple get stuck in negative patterns of interaction without knowing how to resolve and repair their relationship.
In EFT couples’ therapy, the couple begin to understand their own and their partner’s emotional needs and learn to communicate and meet those needs more effectively. They begin to step back from and understand their negative cycle and what factors trigger it, without getting drawn into it repeatedly. Once couples have this understanding, they are able to develop more compassion for their partner. Partners learn how to relate to each other in a more loving and responsive way and are more emotionally connected.
How does EFT couples therapy work?
There are nine stages in the process of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Each stage involves many layers of deep emotional work:
In Steps 1-4, the focus is on understanding how you interact as a couple and on reducing the level of conflict or distance between you. In this phase of the couples counselling, you begin to understand the attachment distress in your relationship and will learn how to move beyond it to repair the disconnection between you.
In Steps 5-7, you begin to relate with each other in a deeper, more vulnerable way and begin to understand the underlying fears and needs in yourself and your partner. You will also see how your protective coping and defensiveness sabotages your connection.
In Steps 7-9, you begin to consolidate the changes you have made as they become a part of your relationship. You will recognise when you are caught in a negative pattern and will repair more naturally when there is a disconnect between you and your partner. EFT couples therapy is complete when you feel comfortable that you can keep your bond secure and healthy. This can be achieved in 8-20 sessions depending on the couple.
QUOTES by Dr Sue Johnson in
Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships:-
- “The first and foremost instinct of humans is neither sex nor aggression. It is to seek contact and comforting connection.”
- “Distressed partners no longer see each other as their emotional safe haven. Our lover is supposed to be the one person we can count on who will always respond. Instead, unhappy partners feel emotionally deprived, rejected, even abandoned. In that light, couples’ conflicts assume their true meaning: they are frightened protests against eroding connection and a demand for emotional reengagement.”
- “Being the “best you can be” is really only possible when you are deeply connected to another. Splendid isolation is for planets, not people.”
- “The greatest gift a parent has to give a child—and a lover has to give a lover—is emotionally attuned attention and timely responsiveness.”
Imago couples therapy
What is Imago Relationship Therapy?
Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT) is a form of relationship therapy developed by Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD. Imago theory rests on the idea that relationship conflict is due to unconscious unmet needs from childhood. Healing from childhood wounding needs to occur in the context of a relationship. In the Imago couples counselling approach, I help couples to uncover the core unconscious motivations they bring to their relationship for resolution. When these hidden hopes, fears and longings are no longer hidden and are communicated in the safety provided in couples’ therapy, partners begin to see each other differently, have greater compassion for each other and begin to take steps to create a new experience of relationship. Beyond these motivations, is a deeper core problem, called the relationship impasse, which is at the root of the couples’s greatest difficulty. In the course of therapy, this core difficulty dissolves. Through understanding how their childhood affects their relationship, couples then are more able to move beyond their childhood hurts and frustrations which are affecting their relationship and begin to create a healing and conscious bond with each other. They are better able to meet each other’s true needs and experience a healthier and more deeply connected relationship.
How does Imago Relationship Therapy work?
In most troubled relationships, problems tend to become more serious because one or both partners have run out of skills to re-connect with each other. In Imago Relationship Therapy, the couple are taught skills that are part of a larger step-by-step process that transforms the relationship and results in the individual healing of both partners. Imago Relationship Therapy provides a safe container for change to occur and replaces the behaviours that were not working in the couple’s relationship with new relationship skills that have been proven to help partners transform even the most seemingly “hopeless” situations. The couple learn to become therapeutic with each other, and the therapist becomes less and less needed over time.
Through learning the Imago dialogue, both partners will experience speaking and listening in such a way that validation and empathy occurs. While lowering one’s emotional defenses can result in repeated suffering in other contexts, it can also lead to the development of a deeply intimate connection in therapy. The Imago dialogue allows each partner to lower their defences and to communicate deeply and with empathy until the process becomes habitual and feels natural.
Conflict, arising from an underlying emotional discontent in the relationship, is expressed outwardly through criticism, anger, dissatisfaction or withdrawal from the relationship. Imago relationship therapy helps a couple explore the root of the emotional hurt or need that underlies this expression of discontent. Both partners, through the experience of Imago couples counselling, will learn to understand the wounded child in themselves and their partner, to communicate disappointments and frustrations in more effective ways, to resolve feelings of extreme anger, to re-romanticise their relationship and to re-vision their relationship so that it becomes a source of safety, healing and contentment for both partners.
Encounter-centred couples therapy
What is Encounter-Centred Couples Therapy?
Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy is a model developed by Hedy Schleifer, MA,LMHC and her husband Yumi. It is a blend of ideas derived from relational psychology, attachment studies, developmental psychology and neuro-affective research. This couples therapy model teaches partners to create an interpersonal encounter of a different quality, one in which each of them is listened to and met on their own terms, so that they mutually feel truly understood.
The essence of this approach is captured by the idea that our relationship lives in “the space between” us. This relational space needs to be honoured and needs to be tended like a garden. The central question of this approach would be: Am I honouring or polluting the space between us? The focus is on 3 invisible connectors that deepen connection: honouring the invisible space between the couple, the bridge that connects the couple and the encounter that results when one partner crosses the bridge into their partner’s world in an accepting and loving way. The processes are based on the idea that we are wired for connection and wholeness, that we are responsible to each other and that the nourishment we give each other keeps us energised. The focus of Encounter-Centred Couples Therapy is on regaining wholeness.
How does Encounter-Centred Couples Therapy work?
Encounter-Centred Couples Therapy is an experiential therapy with a focus on the essence of each partner. As the therapist, I would create the conditions for transformation to occur and then allow the processes to unfold intuitively and holistically. My role, in this approach, shifts from therapist to guide, creating new energy in the space between the couple. I give the couple a “map” of the psychological journey they are about to undertake and the couple enters an archetypal journey of relational transformation. Couples undergo transformational processes such as The Wildest Dream, The Wygelian Dance, Visiting a Precious Neighbourhood, Visiting the Toughest Neighbourhood, Untying the Survival Knot, and learning how to Co-create a New Neighbourhood for their relationship, ending with Appreciation for the new space that has been created.
How do we know we need Couples Therapy?
- You want different things out of your relationship
- Your partner wants you both to go for therapy
- You have the same repetitive arguments
- Your relationship is physically or emotionally abusive
- You are living parallel lives or are just coping
- You are not talking to each other or are afraid to talk.
- You feel everything would be OK if only your partner would change
- There has been a noticeable shift in your sex life
- You see your partner as your adversary
- You are keeping secrets.
- You are thinking about (or are having) an affair
- You are financially unfaithful
- You feel like you are speaking different languages
- You pretend everything is fine but feel disconnected
- You are contemplating divorce or separation
- You are experiencing a major life transition which is impacting on your relationship
- You want a healthy, more intimate relationship
- You want to improve the intimacy in an already healthy relationship