All committed relationships experience stressful times. Often this stems from poor communication, or a sense of unmet need, and a loss of self in relationship.
Relationships can, over time, spiral into an unhappy grid-lock, wherein neither partner feels understood or cared for. If this pattern is allowed to go unchecked, resentments will invariably fester. This resentment is often loaded with hurt, anger, disappointment, frustration and powerlessness. These emotions have a corrosive effect on any relationship. Ultimately the good-will that was originally there in abundance, runs dry. We back away from each other, our guard is up, and intimacy is lost.
Relationship counselling provides the space for couples to gain insight into these difficult dynamics. We learn to hear each other in new ways. We learn to value difference, and to negotiate our needs. We gain new skills and strategies for moving the relationship forward, and to improving or restoring the health and well-being of the relationship. We restore good-will and intimacy.
What to expect
It is difficult to predict how many sessions a couple may need. Obviously, the sooner couples recognise there is an issue they can’t resolve or that keeps recurring, the better. Frequently though, by the time a couple present for relationship counselling, the issues may be quite long-standing. Entrenched patterns and grievances obviously take longer to dislodge.
It is reasonable to expect to commit to a minimum of 6 regular sessions. Remember, these problems and issues have been there for a long time. On the other hand, it isn’t unusual for couples to be in therapy for 1-2 years. In this instance, deeper work is achieved on many different levels. Having said that, most couples will find 3-6 months of relationship counselling to be an excellent investment in the well-being of their lives, both individually, and as a couple.
Sometimes, couples can not agree to attend relationship counselling together. It is often very useful for one person to look at the relationship dynamic through individual sessions. When even one person shifts his or her perspective, it can have a powerful ripple effect.
Exploration, Reconciliation, Separation & Rebuilding
At the start of relationship counselling, we may not know which of these will be the outcome. This can cause a great deal of anxiety. With this in mind, it is worth mentioning that our couples’ counsellors understand that there is often a lot at stake, and that to embark on relationship counselling takes considerable courage. We are mindful and respectful of each person’s vulnerability.
It may help to approach the couples’ work by thinking about it as an exploration. Together, we will explore questions and themes such as: How did we arrive at this place? What is it that each of us has contributed to this situation? What is it that I bring into this relationship, what is it that you bring in? What issues are mine/your/ours? What needs to change? What gets in the way of my/our needs being met? Where to from here?
Same Sex Relationships
Our counsellors are experienced in working with same sex attracted men and women, both individually and in couples.
As the Hartington Centre isn’t a government-run organisation, we do not receive any funding. This means that our therapists work independently, setting their own fees. However, if you are experiencing financial difficulty, practitioners are often willing to negotiate their fees, so please feel free to discuss this.
There are several counsellors specialising in relationship counselling at Hartington. Please see: Tony Jackson, Julie Twohig, Jo Marston and Samantha Bladon’s profiles for information on specific counsellors.
If you would like more information, please direct your enquiries to the Psychotherapy and Counselling Practice Manager,
Julie Twohig, on 9482 1888.