Whenever we ask our clients what is most important to them in life – relationships, connectedness, love and intimacy almost always take top spot. Relationships with friends, family, partners, children, parents and colleagues give you both life’s greatest joys and heartaches. Our psychologists and counsellors will help you to experience the joys more richly and more often, and to meet the heartaches with peace, kindness and acceptance.
There are two ways that you can engage in counselling for relationships – on your own or in joint sessions with the other person. We call the first way Individual Counselling for Relationships and the second Relationship Counselling (which includes counselling for partnered couples). All our psychologists and counsellors offer Individual Counselling for Relationships. Brock Bastian, Josh Hobson, Patch Callahan and Deborah Hart offer Relationship Counselling.
Many clients who want to resolve a relationship issue accept that they cannot bring their partner, so Individual Counselling for Relationships will suit them. This option is also best when you recognise that your own behaviour, moods or emotions are at the root of the issue you and the other person are facing. Or if you have concerns about your partner’s behaviour or history, or are considering separating and want an objective listener with whom you can confidentially explore your concerns, Individual Counselling may be right for you.
On the other hand, if the other person is at least open to Relationship Counselling (they don’t have to be enthusiastic or even believe it will “work”, just willing to try it for a few sessions) then a joint session is suitable.
You might think that for a relationship to improve, both partners need to be involved. While that is sometimes the ideal situation, it is possible to influence – not necessarily control – the other person’s behaviour in a direction that is healthier for both people. If that wasn’t the case, many professions simply wouldn’t exist – schoolteachers, personal trainers, salespeople, even politicians! Your counsellor will use principles and techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as well as other evidence-based approaches, to help you respond differently to your partner and to your own reactions.
Human relationships – whether those of partners, friends, siblings, parent and child, or workmates (we’ve even worked with comedy acts and bandmates!) – don’t come with a manual. But relationship science has taught us some principles that you can put to work to bring more fulfilment, connection and fun into your interactions. Principles such as:
- Conflict is normal, necessary and healthy – not something to avoid
- Relationships work better when both people are being true to their values
- You are not responsible for the other person’s feelings, nor are they for yours, but you can have an influence
- ‘Being right’, point-scoring and ‘winning’ arguments are fatal to good relations
These principles may seem obvious, but your relationship counsellor will do more than just talk about them. They will ask you to change the way you ‘do’ conflict, communication, closeness and intimacy so that connecting becomes your default rather than a lucky accident.