Introduction to Relationship Counselling
Healthy relationships are considered one of the foundations of mental health so I am passionate about working with couples and families. It has become a special interest of mine emerging from my family therapy training almost 25 years ago.
When I work with couples the focus can be on improving the relationship, reconciling after a separation or break-up, on effective parenting or on accepting that the relationship is over.
Even parents who have decided to divorce can benefit by working on their parenting and their relationship as parents.
Sometimes one or both parties may benefit from personal counselling either instead of, or accompanying couple therapy. However I don’t do personal psychotherapy with people who are seeing me for relationship counselling. I can help them find another therapist if needed.
Approach to Relationship Counselling
Many of the approaches used in personal psychotherapy such as psycho-education about a range of issues and mindfulness can also be utilised in couples counselling.
However my basic approach is to provide a calm environment where each person can talk from their own perspective while the other person listens and attempts to understand the other person’s point of view. Listening and understanding the point of view doesn’t mean you have to accept it or agree with it, but as the two people articulate and clarify their perspectives – the reasons for the clash between these perspectives often becomes clearer. Additionally areas of confusion and misunderstanding are often clarified.
The position that I encourage is that a person’s perspective is neither right nor wrong – what we are trying to do in the sessions is to get an accurate understanding of both perspectives including thoughts and feelings. This doesn’t mean liking or adopting that perspective for yourself necessarily. But having a proper accurate understanding might just shed some light on the difficulties.
As your psychotherapist – my job is not about taking sides – but about facilitating a conversation between two people.
Outside of therapy, discussions may have been happening in the context of intoxication with drugs or alcohol and even if this is not the case – often both parties become extremely emotionally aroused. In both situations our capacity to think clearly and have a useful conversation – is greatly diminished.
At other times, we may be so disheartened by the repetitive and emotional upset involved in talking that we avoid it or just don’t give it the proper space or time. So making an appointment for relationship counselling is a way of creating the time and space to have a proper conversation supported by a therapist who isn’t taking sides.
For relationship therapy to work well – it depends on both parties being willing to honestly examine their own and the other person’s perspectives. If both parties are willing to look at their ‘own part in the matter’ then therapy can be very successful.
Fees for couples therapy and relationship counselling
I utilise medicare item number 170, the fee is $260 and the sessions are 60 minutes.
The out-of-pocket expense is about $140 per session and the medicare safety net is reached in 6-18 sessions approximately after which out-of-pocket expenses decrease significantly.