Relationship Therapy and Couples Counselling in Sydney
The old adage that ‘relationships require commitment and effort’ is undoubtedly true. However some couples can get stuck around the specifics of the ‘commitment and effort’ aspect. It also pays to consider what else is required in addition to ‘commitment and effort’.
Waiting until there is a crisis in a relationship (e.g. an affair, an illness, work and life stress, fertility issues etc.) can mean that a relationship has already suffered negatively and the chances of the relationship remaining pressured or ending are increased. That’s not to imply that things become hopeless at that point, but what it does mean is that it can take longer to get things back on track and there is always a risk that divisions are irreparable at this point.
Unfortunately, only a minority of couples think of a regular investment in developing their relationship in both good times and bad. That’s not to say that the remainder of couples do not care about their relationship but more reflects the societal attitude of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.
A large proportion of clients who present to Talkingminds for counselling, therapy and psychological assistance are dealing with co-occurring relationship concerns. Relationship concerns, relationship breakdown, affairs, misalignment in values and goals, decreased intimacy and breakdowns in communication are all common relationship ailments. Knowing what to do, how to make space for such issues, knowing when to ‘call it quits’ and mapping a way forward are all common objectives.
Many clients present with a simple yet complex question around how they can keep their relationship happy and healthy and what to do when their relationship appears under strain. So often, clients ask “Is this normal?”, “Do other couples go through similar issues?”, and wonder how relationship counselling, relationship therapy or couple counselling may benefit their relationship.
So how can we help keep our relationships happy, healthy and flourishing and just as importantly how can we avoid relationships that don’t serve us well?
Some tips on maintaining great relationships and what often gets overlooked (assuming love, chemistry and genuine connection are a given)
Know your relationship values
Understanding the general and specific importance of values in our lives is crucially important. Values (or what matters to us in life) serve as a compass bearing and sit across all aspects of our lives including relationships, friendships, career, family, learning/education, spirituality etc.
When it comes to relationships, being aware of your relationship values can have a huge bearing on the way you find a partner, relate to a partner and maintain a healthy relationship. When values misalign in a relationship, both parties can be left feeling frustrated and often have difficulty pinpointing the source of their troubles.
Understand your communication styles
Understanding your communication style and the way you communicate compared to your partner can be helpful in strengthening relationships and avoiding unnecessary conflict. For example, appreciating whether you are a big picture or detail person and understanding this pattern in your partner can also be important. In some cases, people actually do speak a different language to their partner….eg consider the example of planning a holiday, if you are very detail oriented and need to plan your holiday in great detail (down to the restaurants you plan to eat at each night) and your partner prefers to go with the flow (liking some detail but leaving some to chance and spontaneity) then you may find you clash around what could be an enjoyable event. This doesn’t mean you have to compromise or let go of what matters, rather you may need to develop flexibility to appreciate and work with your partner’s need for less structure and vice versa, they need to work with your need for detail.
Have shared goals & plans and support each other’s individual goals
Whilst many couples may happily declare that they are on the same page with their life goals and plans (e.g. buying a house, having children, travel plans, education or becoming involved in their community) there may be other areas or life goals where one party is in the dark about their partner’s wishes and aspirations. Sharing knowledge around big picture as well as smaller picture goals is important. Supporting your partner in the pursuit of their goals, even if those goals aren’t as meaningful to you as they are to them is also very valuable to the relationship’s growth and well-being.
Understand problem solving
Taking a proactive approach to problem solving as well as knowing when to give your partner space is something to be very mindful of. Not all problems appear in the same way to all people and personal values are inherently linked to this.
How Relationship Therapy can help
Due to their training in relationship dynamics and relational theories (including the importance of understanding Attachment Theory in the context of the bonds we form) relationship therapists act as objective and supportive observers of the dynamics they see present in your relationship and facilitate a better understanding of this in their clients. They are also astute observers and reflectors of the power balances and imbalances that sit within intimate relationships and can help by carefully detailing these.
Relationship therapy can facilitate a better understanding in clients of the patterns that are repeated within relationships, in the sense of those that aid the growth of the relationship and those that get in the way.
At Talkingminds we have a number of skilled relationship counsellors and therapists who work with couples and individuals around relationship concerns. Relationship Therapy and Couples Counselling in Sydney is affordable and accessible as we are conveniently located in Ultimo, inner west Sydney.
Our couple therapists are available Monday-Saturday. You may qualify for a Medicare rebate if referred by your GP for individual sessions where relationship issues sit within a broader mental health focus but please note that Medicare does not pay a rebate on couple sessions. Private health rebates may apply depending on your level of cover.
For an obligation free chat about relationship therapy at Talkingminds please feel free to contact us.