Couples and Families

Relationship Therapy

Why come to Family Therapy or Couples Therapy?

More and more individuals are seeking this type of therapy. People are choosing to do the work on their relationship rather than break up, and people are choosing to do the family work realising the presenting problem in one person can be the result of other issues in the family system.

The family or couple may be under some kind of distress or feels it is in a state of "crisis":

Perhaps one or more of your family members are struggling with problematic behaviour arising from:

  • substance abuse
  • stress and anxiety
  • depression
  • trauma ( including PTSD)
  • an eating disorder
  • grief and loss
  • fear of separation and divorce

These issues are not solely specific to the "Problematic individual". These issues amount to a "familly problem" given the impact of behavioural changes, the negative consequences of these behavioural changes and hence the adaptations within the family to survive and cope yet not really thriving. The effect of life's difficulties on the family can take its toll. Tension, conflict and anxiety are just some of the stressors the family experiences when faced wtih difficulties as outlined above.

Let us take the example of how a family has to adapt to their son struggling with substance abuse. He has returned home after taking steps toward recovery within a treatment facility with a new awareness of himself and a greater realisation of his behaviours on his parents and siblings.  This new way of being, for once the "problematic dependent" of the family, presents unforseen challenges experienced by each family member that comes as a result of this behavioural change. They are used to the "roles" they were in before he went to treatment and now that may have to change and there are some"role" changes that may need to take place and this is distressing for a family. The possibilities for family therapy in these cases are such that it creates awareness and in turn, far more fulfilling relationship amongst members. In this setting I would see individual members separately and together depending on the need at the time.

Some of the ways that I may work with you and your family or partner will be to: 

  • Mediate
  • Facilitate engagement amongst members, sensitively , with great awareness of the fact that expressing how one feels to one another may be a very foreign concept if not modelled by the parents. 
  • Explore ways of taking the focus from the patterns of dysfunction to where there may be possibilities for change and better functioning.
  • We may agree on some goals.
  • Encourage active listening 
  • Eluding the members to the entrenched "roles" they play within their family. 
  • Challenging them on their responsibilities.
  • Joining in with their dynamic from an objective view point and challenging the members to demonstrate alternative ways to be with one another whether that means they need to look at more useful language, tone, assertion versus aggression and passive aggression and so on. 
  • Help create a broader understanding of how and perhaps why things got to where they are without judgement or blame using a Systemic approach of Therapy.

I have seen first hand the benefits and relief that can be achieved when famiies seek help to recognise and develop healthier communication styles and problem solving strategies to better deal with the difficulties that arise for families.

Open communication can become thwarted through strains in a partnership and simple skills and techniques combined with a renewed attitude can sometimes be the right antidote for your and your partner to arrive once again to a balance of respect, love and trust. I see couples together and even separately a few times throughout the course of therapy if that is what is needed at the time. Sessions begin as weekly or fortnightly and then stretch out to monthly after a time of greater stability and trust in it and themselves.

I hope to bring families feeling disconnected and out-of-relationship back in to relationship which can be both confronting yet rewarding or assist when separation becomes the next stage for a couple. I can also provide the couple with appropriate resources which will give them knowledge and understanding and help them develop healthier pathways moving forward.

As confronting as it may feel, I encourage family members to freely express their feelings, perhaps fears, and thoughts with me as I can provide that safe place offering support and comfort quite separate to the 'home' environment. 

I find the dynamics within relationships fascinating even though the process can be deep and intense, especially for couples. As each individual in the partnership grows and changes within their relationship so does the development of the relationship.