Explore new and more satisfying ways of interacting with your partner with our relationship & marriage counselling services, offered by experienced counsellors. This is a very specialised field & psychologists at The Three Seas Psychology group are fully trained to assist you and arm you with techniques for a better outcome for your couples therapy.
What is Relationship Counselling?
Relationship counselling can help if you are having relationship problems like feeling unhappy or being in an abusive relationship. A harmonious relationship can enrich your life and make for real happiness. But complex issues like sex, co-parenting, or effective communication without a ‘how to guide’ and an expert can make all the difference. Our innovative approach can help you understand more about how and why those problems often reach a crisis point. It can help partners, families or individuals to navigate through the complex area of human relationships. It’s not an easy or quick process, but many couples who have put in the work have rediscovered themselves and each other.
How Can Counselling Help You for A Better Relationship?
Couples counselling can help you to explore more satisfying ways of interacting with your partner, as well as to stop fights before they get nasty. With these skills, you will be able to communicate more efficiently without each of you getting defensive. You can tell your partner about what you want from your partner or about what you don’t want. Theses skills will also help you stop avoiding talking about difficult topics such as sex or parenting decisions.
Effective counselling also helps lovers and families to share more joy and fun. They learn how to bring more patience and care into their conversations. Gradually, both of them will become more assertive about what’s important to each person without being critical or blaming. Most people want those around them to feel comfortable and safe but triggers and memories of a hard time often leave people ‘sitting on the fence’ when it comes to trying to make closer relationships. Relationship advisers will help couples learn how to take small steps closer to each other while both feel safer and more at ease.
If it’s your first time to seek for counsellor’s help, you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, and maybe even a little bit hopeless, please don’t worry. Relationships are powerful things; a sudden shift can change everything, and if you don’t have the skills you need to get back on track, you can quickly find yourself miserable in your relationship. Research suggests that people are happier when they’re in a functional marriage. Ending your marriage may not end its problems; instead, it often means you simply carry a suitcase full of the same baggage into your next relationship! Couples counselling helps you clarify your expectations and improve your skills, and can make it possible to turn around even the most troubled marriages. And even if you opt break-up or move forward, these sessions improves the odds that your next love life will be better. Research suggests that, in 70% to 80% of cases, counselling works. It can help you reconnect with your partner and restore your intimacy and closeness.
Two Therapy Options: Individual and Couples
It takes two to create a problem. No matter how much your partner drives you crazy or how difficult it is to handle abusive relations, both you and your partner have contributed to the challenges you’re currently facing. Counselling works best when you both work together because this strategy enables your counsellor to give you both options for changing your behaviour, feelings and thoughts.
But what if your partner is unwilling to go? Or what if you’re not comfortable going to counselling together? More than half of couples report that at least one member of the duo is reticent to participate in it, our skilled counsellors are already well-prepared to deal with this common problem. Although joint counselling is the ideal, you can still make incredible changes with individual efforts. If you attend this on your own, you’ll master a host of skills including:
- Communicating your wants, needs, and frustrations more effectively
- Understanding your partner’s feelings
- Coping with unpleasant emotions.
- Resisting the urge to criticise or otherwise behave cruelly toward your partner.
In many cases, individual consultation is so effective that the couple no longer needs help at all! But this doesn’t mean that the person who went to seek help is the problem. Instead, it results from the dynamic nature of relations. When one person changes, the other person has no choice but to adjust their behaviour accordingly. And when the changes are positive, the odds that your partner will make positive changes as well are exceedingly high.
How is Couples Counselling Different From Individual Counselling?
Couples counselling has its unique experience. It’s far more than just individual counselling with two people, and not all individual counsellors are skilled couples counsellors. So what’s the difference? And how can you choose an experienced couples counsellor? Here’s what you need to know.
No ‘Taking Sides.’
In individual counselling, your therapist only ever gets one side of the story. His or her job is to act as your partner and ally, which means you may feel like the therapist is on your side—even when he or she disagrees with your behaviour.
Couples therapy is fundamentally different. Your therapist can and should challenge both you and your partner to think differently, try harder, and be kinder to one another. A good counsellor will never take sides, insisting that one partner is sole to blame or completely faultless. After all, every relationship requires two people, and those two individuals create every problem—even if one person started it or plays a more significant role.
In a good couples session, you will likely alternate between feeling like the counsellor is on your side and your partner’s. That’s because the counsellor is on neither side and is instead prioritising the relationship.
The Concept of Unconditional Positive Regard
In both couples and individual counselling, the best therapists practice what’s known as unconditional positive regard. Unconditional positive regard means listening without judgement or shaming you. It does not mean approving of everything you do. You should feel like your therapist cares about and will not judge you. But you should also know that your therapist may challenge you if your behaviour is damaging your relationship or your life.
In couples counselling, this tendency to challenge clients is often more apparent, since your therapist gets more information about your behaviour. If you feel judged or shamed, tell your therapist, but otherwise, expect that gentle guidance and correction are healthy and fundamental components of effective couples counselling.
Mediation Without Judgement
A good counsellor directs therapy in such a way that you make progress and have meaningful discussions. He or she does not just endlessly talk about feelings or allow you to fight without intervening. In this regard, the most experienced counsellors are a lot like mediators, but with one crucial caveat: they don’t judge. A good couples counsellor will not tell you that you are “wrong” or “evil,” but will instead encourage you to see how your problematic behaviour affects your relationship, your partner, and your overall well-being.
The Primacy of Homework
Couples counselling is typically only an hour or two a week. That alone is not enough to improve your relationship. To see real change, you must work on the skills you learn in therapy each and every moment you are outside of counselling. Many couples counsellors give homework to help you hone new skills.
Even if your counsellor doesn’t give homework, try making your own. Consider prioritising a particular relationship goal, or dedicating yourself to noticing your partner’s needs. You may be surprised by how quickly doing so improves your relationship, but don’t forget this precaution: punishing your partner for the things he or she says in counselling can destroy your relationship. If you can’t talk about problems without getting angry about what happens in counselling, you need to bring this issue up with your therapist.
Three Seas offers comprehensive counselling for couples at every stage of their relationship, from premarital counselling to counselling couples who have been together for decades. Let us show you a path to a better relationship.
Improved Relationship Techniques
A relationship means a lot like a piece of art. The result depends on how good your artistry skills are. Skilled relationship artists have stellar relationships, but those who aren’t particularly adept with basic connection tools are more likely to create muddled messes. The overwhelming majority of problems can be solved if you have the right skills.
For example, if you and your partner always fight about money, you’re lacking at least two skills: money management knowledge and the ability to communicate without becoming hostile. Good counsellors will offer you referrals and educational opportunities where necessary. For instance, if you and your partner are always fighting over a home renovation project, your psychologist may advise that you work with a home renovating consultant or that each of you list your home remodelling goals before continuing with the project.
Clarification of Relationship Issues
We all enter relationships with a suitcase full of unstated expectations. Many of these expectations – such as the desire not to be physically abused – are so basic that they don’t have to be stated upfront. In most cases, though, your expectations may differ dramatically from your partner’s. We all have different experiences that shape these expectations. Growing up in an abusive household, for example, could cause you to believe that a high degree of conflict is normal, but this dispute could be a frightening deal-breaker for your partner.
Likewise, many of us grow up with gendered expectations. Many men are taught not to share their feelings – a dangerous lesson that can prove fatal to their relationships. Women, by contrast, may grow up with a vision of a chivalrous Prince Charming, only to find that a real partner falls far short of these desires. Consultations work by helping you clarify your expectations. Your counsellor will encourage you to list both your conscious and unconscious desires for your love life. From there, you’ll work to determine which of these expectations are reasonable and which are not. For example, expecting your spouse to listen to your feelings is reasonable, while demanding that your partner allows you to verbally berate her/him is not.
After you clarify your expectations, you’ll then begin working to help those expectations come to fruition. If you want your spouse to have more sex with you, for example, you might need to offer more assistance with household finances or chores. Whether you work together or separately, your counsellor can help you brainstorm strategies for ensuring both of your needs are met in a healthy and mutually satisfying way.
Accountability for Both Parties in Abusive Relationships
If you’re like most people in an abusive relationship, you probably think your partner is the bad guy. The truth, though, is that we’re all the “bad guy” sometimes. From calling your partner names to neglect to help share of housework, the odds are high that both of you occasionally do hurtful things for which you don’t take responsibility. Maybe you even deny that these acts are damaging, or insist that your partner deserved them.
This endless back and forth of blame and shame can destroy a relationship. Indeed, legendary relationship researcher John Gottman has found that, if a relationship is to survive, partners must give 20 compliments for every one criticism they offer. Your counsellor will let you know when your behaviour is out of line, and help you see that, in most cases, you’re both at fault.
This accountability can act as a powerful reality check for your relationship. And if you’re in a relationship where you’re often bullied or blamed, having a counsellor in your corner can be profoundly empowering.
Increased Couple Intimacy
Many couples use the term intimacy to refer to sex, but the truth is that intimacy is an all-encompassing phenomenon that demands closeness and openness. To have a happy relationship, you need to embrace all forms of intimacy – physical and sexual, emotional, verbal, and even spiritual if you believe in a higher power. Your counsellor will give you specific exercises designed to help you boost intimacy, in addition to helping you identify any barriers to better and deeper intimacy.
Equally important is the role expectations play in intimacy. Every person has his or her unique connection style. Some people share intimacy primarily via sex. Others feel closest to their partner when they have deep, probing conversations or when doing everyday activities together. Your counsellor will help you determine what you and your partner need to achieve better intimacy, then will offer you specific tips on how to work toward a model of intimacy that works for both of you.
Bringing Back the Spark after Counselling
Many lovers seek help because they feel that much-lauded and ever-evasive spark has left their love life. Long-term relationships are hard work, and the daily drudgery of chores, obligations, conflicts, and disappointments can rob them. There’s good news, though. That spark really can come back if you’re willing to put in the work.
Research suggests that couples who pursue novel activities together experience more feelings of magic and romance. They also have more sex. With the right attitude, your sessions can feel a lot like your first few dates – a chance to explore the inner workings of someone you admire and respect.
Even solving relationship issues are hard, painful work – as it often is – your counsellor can still help you get back the love and magic you once felt. He or she will cooperate with you to identify your needs, and then the counsellor offers you strategies for more defectively meeting those needs. You may also get “homework” designed to help you feel closer and more excited. A weekly date, daily conversations, and small acts of love often all brings back the spark you’ve missed for months or years.
How Can You Make Couples Counselling a Success?
Couples counselling isn’t like taking medication, where you only swallow the pill and then wait for it to work. Instead, this is a cooperative activity that requires lots of work from you. If you lie in your sessions, don’t follow the tips offered by your therapist, or make your partner feel bad about the things he or she says, the course is doomed to fail. You’ll get out of this process what you put into it, so embarking upon your counselling journey with an open mind, a positive attitude, and a willing to stick with it for the long haul can mean the difference between a crumbling relationship and a growing one.
What else can you do to increase your odds of success? Remember to:
- Focus on the things that matter most. Don’t bring up petty disputes just to get back at your spouse.
- Be honest with your counsellor and with your spouse.
- Allow your spouse to speak his or her mind. Don’t become angry or aggressive because of what’s said in the session. You may even want to offer each other a “free pass” to say what you like, consequence-free.
- Tell your counsellor if you don’t like the way the help is going or feel a particular strategy might not work.
- Complete the homework assignments your counsellor gives you.
- Actively work to implement the strategies your counsellor suggests.
- Listen attentively and with an open mind; don’t judge your partner or criticise him or her for speaking up.
- Give some time for it to work.Results can be seen within three to six months, so don’t walk out after two sessions.
- Commit to your partner. If you want to leave or if your partner is abusive, this help won’t work. Only attend the session if you’re truly ready to work on.
It might feel hopeless and overwhelming now, but your relationship was once a blossoming source of love and beauty. Couples counselling can help you get that beauty and love back, but only if you’re willing to work on yourself just as much as you want your partner to work on himself or herself.
Other Relationships Matter as well
Family relationships can also be challenging and often become an ongoing source of conflict or distress. Family therapy can help all family members communicate more effectively so that everyone feels heard and understood. With this new way of communication, families can reunite and enjoy more.
Finding the right couples or family therapists can take time, but it is worth the effort to ensure you get the right psychologist. Call our Client Connect Team today. They are experienced at helping you to find the right family counsellor in Melbourne.
If you are not happy in a relationship but you don’t want to leave it, going to The Three Seas Couples Retreat might be the right start for you and your partner to rebuild your relationship.
Unlike other retreats that offer lots of pampering and ‘time out’, our program is based on evidence-based psychological techniques to help you and your partner better understand how to break your unhelpful patterns and how to improve your connection. You will work with your partner and our psychologists to improve your communication, rebuild trust and commitment, and develop a more intimate and emotional safe connection and a better understanding of yourself and your partner.
There are options to attend for the day or overnight and the groups are small and confidential. Along with other couples who are enrolled in the program, you will have exclusive use of the retreat during your stay.
Couples counsellors in Melbourne
We have three locations in Melbourne that cover three broad geographical suburbs:
Melbourne (CBD), Inner Eastern (Richmond) and South Eastern (Knox).
Counselling requires an experienced and professional therapist. Our couples counselling practices are comfortable, discrete, and easy to find, and our Client Connect Team are warm and helpful. Our counsellors are all fully trained and experienced psychologists.
If you and your partner need help working out your personal problems, getting the help of a trained couples counsellor is often the fastest and most efficient way to make progress.
In your counselling sessions, the couples therapist will help you develop strategies for how to communicate. The strategies often focus on breaking the unhelpful behavioural cycles that you and your partner may be repeating. Sometimes this requires to increase both partners’ self-awareness – you might not even know what you’re doing because it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment.
Everything you discuss regarding your relationship with your therapist in a session is confidential. Only in cases where a court subpoenas records or if someone is in danger, would this change. You would be speaking with a completely non-judgemental and objective person. It can help because the couples counsellor doesn’t have your history or any ‘filter’ through which they view your life. They aren’t biased and only want to help you.