Approach to Couples Therapy
Relationships are central to our lives and I have been working with couples for the past 20 years. I have studied a number of approaches and the one that fits for me and I have found the most effective is Relational Life Therapy (RLT) by Terry Real. Changing dynamics in relationships takes determination and willingness to look inwards. RLT helps couples to take an honest look at their behaviour with support and clarity. I have been doing in-depth study and training in this approach for the past 5 years. I am walking the same journey as you. I came from a family where there was no healthy role model of loving, engaged and intimate relationships. I have had to address my own behaviour of overfunctioning, love-addicted and defensive style of interacting to get what I need. I know how hard it is to face what my part was and not blame the other person. I will work with you in a direct and empathic way with each partner to help you achieve your goals and look inwards.
What to expect.
The first few sessions will be about assessing what is going on between you now. With an understanding that the past has brought you to this point, we will focus on what needs to change now. To do this we address a number of examples of when you are both at your worst in detail so I can get a picture of how things play out between you. This gives us a picture of where to start. There may be times I am focused on working more with one person, in particular, to help change their behaviour. Behind many of your worst behaviours is a need to protect yourself that leads to the behaviours below. There is a tendency to identify with protecting yourself and we often find it difficult to acknowledge the ways this is harmful to our relationship and our partner. Or we may recognize that it is harmful and we want to change it but we don't know how.
Often couples who are ready to do this work find change occurs after a few sessions. Then the real work begins of working on a new relationship and working through the developmental issues they have brought in from their families and past relationships and practice new skills.
Another aspect of RLT that I like, is the acknowledgment of patriarchy that affects relationships between men and women and teaches men to be invulnerable. Men are often at a loss to know how to be intimate and relational. Relationships today are still affected deeply by the imbalance of power that runs through our society on many levels. We will focus on family of origin work to address the relational wounds and how these gender roles and conditioning have been passed on.
We will also focus on developing skills that are missing to develop a loving and intimate relationship. In working on changing behaviour we are often working on boundaries, self-esteem, negotiation, giving feedback respectfully and successfully repairing hurts and disappointments.
Change is hard and our most intimate relationships are often the catalyst for us to become the best we can be. I am committed to helping you reach those goals and create a loving, respectful and vibrant relationship. Where your relationship is a sanctuary from life's stresses.
Couples I have worked with have struggled with the following:
- Constant arguing and bickering.
- Sensitivity to emotional expression of their partner.
- Withdrawal and lack of participation.
- Defensive responses.
- Lack of respect for their partners experience.
- Feeling responsible for their partner or dependent on their partner for their well being.
- Ambivalent about being in the relationship or out of the relationship.
- Criticism and complaining.
- Lack of affection and intimacy.
- Difficulty with differences and limitations.
- Boundaries - loosing sense of self or hiding behind a protective wall.
- Difficulties with expressing desires to their partner.
- Distance, lack of affection, feeling disconnected.
- Not making time for each other.
- Torn between in-laws and partner.
- Blended Families
- Cross Cultural