I assist people in either individual, couple or family therapy to improve their health and well-being, offering psychotherapy and counselling for a variety of concerns and problems such as:
Couples who consult with me undertake the challenge of relating to their differences in new ways as well as accepting responsibility for the direction they want their relationship to take. Couples soon realise that the most effective work happens outside the therapy room, in the real circumstances of their every day life, where their challenges exist, between them.
It is normal for couples to experience issues in their relationships, however at times couples can get stuck. Research shows that it is not the issue itself (sex, money, parenting, parents-in law) that is the problem but it’s how couples relate to one another in response to the issue. Every couple grapples with differences, it is part and parcel of being human. The problem is not experiencing differences but how those differences are managed in the system of interaction between partners.
When a couple gets caught in reactive cycles, patterns of conflict, avoidance of issues, symptoms in one partner, or emotional distance, can settle in.
In couples therapy, I explore each partner’s developmental history, what is unresolved in their respective family of origin and how that plays out between them. I investigate the factors contributing to stress in their broader system (work, children, family, socio-economic, cultural). I take a history of their relationship to understand how they got to where they are now.
I encourage each partner to see their part in the relationship-dance and to become aware of how each keeps the pattern going, as well as how they can change it to steer themselves in the direction they want their relationship to move toward. As partners release stuck patterns in their relationship dynamic they find new energy for themselves and their life.
I work with both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
This is a still place away from the busyness of everyday life where you can talk about your problems and grow yourself within the context of your relationships, life, and history.
Individual therapy is a process of slowing things down enough to be able to see patterns and behaviours that keep you stuck, in pain, or moving away from where you want to get to and how you want to be.
The patterns that keep you stuck (as well as those that don’t) were developed in relationship to your parents or primary caregivers. This is because the relationship with our parents is the first important relationship we have as humans. Working on your family of origin therefore, can make the biggest difference when you are trying to revolve your problems. Exploring your family history and your primary relationships will have a positive impact on every other relationship in your life.
Whether you are in crisis and struggling to adapt to stressful life events, or whether you are interested in enhancing the quality of your relationships, individual therapy offers an opportunity to grow yourself.
Family Systems Therapy
Families seek assistance with a range of issues including: conflict, emotional distance, cut-off, communication difficulties, sibling rivalry, intergenerational trauma, symptoms in a family member (e.g. addiction/depression/gambling).
I support family members to understand how they interact with each other and if this way of interacting leads them to where they would like to be in relationship with each other. I explore how reactive patterns are directly connected to how family members in previous generations interacted. In examining how the multi-generational system functions, a broader perspective emerges, shedding light on current family problems. This involves exploring and researching one’s family of origin as well as becoming aware of how each member responds and interacts with other members. As entrenched or unhelpful cyclical relationship patterns become more evident I encourage people to practice and observe the things learned in counselling, between sessions, with each other.
As they engage in family therapy, people learn both that they have choice in how they respond to one another and that their choice is limited by the family system they grew up in and inherited. Grasping the complexity of a family system dissolves blame, for there is no one event, thing, or person, who is solely responsible for the issue at hand. There are always multiple factors which contribute to any given problem or symptom. Any relationship disturbance is embedded in a complex web of past and present interactions and the only way to understand it is to appreciate its broader complexity.
More on family systems
According to Bowen family systems theory (and evolutionary biology), people are more sensitive to their families than they are to people who are not as important or essential to them. Family members can get under our skin like no other people in life can, impacting our feelings, thoughts and behaviours. We seek each other’s approval, sympathy, and attention. We react to each other’s distress, needs, and expectations. The need for connection to family makes us interdependent. This interdependence evolved over thousands of years to secure our survival, through collaboration and alliance, we have safeguarded, sheltered and fed each other.
Families function as a system, much like the systems of the body working together, family members function as a unit. A change in one person’s functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others.
An increase in stress can intensify processes of collaboration, leading to difficulties between family members. Stress in one family member often spills to another, moving around from person to person, contagiously. As anxiety increases, connection becomes more problematic than supportive. Sooner or later peoples’ interactions turn to conflict, distance, or cut-off, in an attempt to calm the anxiety. Often the systems’ anxiety is absorbed disproportionally by some members, the most vulnerable of whom can become symptomatic (depression, alcoholism, affairs, or physical illness).
I have found that long-term changes for children with symptoms take place when parents are included in the treatment. Because of this, I see children (up to the age of 14/15 years) with one or both parents, or I opt to work solely with parents.
I believe that parents are an invaluable support for the therapeutic process of symptomatic children. Parents are also encouraged to attend consultations on their own to benefit from parenting-coaching to enhance their child’s resilience and be their child’s best possible resource as well as understand how they play a part in the relationship dance.