Psychologist Interview(Relationship Counselling Sydney)
Our Hart Psychologist has over 25 years experience. She enjoys working with couples and families on relationship issues to improve skills in communication, problem solving and conflict resolution. She provides relationship and marriage counselling Sydney, Crows Nest.
To read more about her or view her psychologist profile, click here. Relationship counselling Sydney.
- What has made you interested in helping couples with their relationships?
In my 25 years as a Psychologist, I’ve learnt there are many different ways to “do relationships”. Generally, a strong long-lasting relationship enables two individuals to become “more than two”. That is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Good relationships empower individuals to grow, expand, improve and achieve. Good relationships are healing and make healthier and happier individuals. Over the years, I’ve researched, studied and gathered a large reservoir of relationship stories and I feel well-equipped to help individuals and couples create their own blue-print for a successful, long-lasting relationship. Relationship counselling Sydney.
- What are the most common relationships problems that you see in couples coming in to see you?
Most relationship problems stem from communication breakdown. Often, it’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it. Fortunately, good communication is a skill – which can be acquired through simple tools and techniques. Unfortunately, many couples seek therapy when there’s a crisis, which creates urgency and desperateness and makes it difficult to focus on communication skills as the basis for problem-solving. However, when couples learn healthy communication skills through counselling – their problem-solving ability improves and big perpetual problems become small and less-frequent.
Another common problem is the busy-ness of life in the 21st century. Pressures to succeed in careers and relationships create multiple, conflicting demands on individuals. The resulting high prevalence of individual mental health issues often affects relationships (including children and whole families). A non-judgemental counselling process can improve understanding and provide tools to support and deal with these issues.
Lastly: Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO drives people to seek newer, bigger, better lives. They may “trade-up” (or down?) or sacrifice their relationship for a successful career or an off-shore post. It seems we’re all driven to DO more, rather than BE more. But good relationships are about BEING not about DOING. Counselling can provide a space to discuss and challenge priorities, and agree to make changes.
- What are the most common problems for women in relationships?
Women often struggle with work-life balance, especially professional and working mothers as well as those planning to start a family. They are often tired and at times, resentful about sacrificing brilliant careers and big dreams to become carers and home makers. This often breeds resentment towards male-partners who may be higher-earning, controlling financial decisions and less involved in mundane day-to-day household chores. While good relationships enable two individuals to become “more”, some relationships enable one to be “more” while the other feels “less”. Less achieving, less successful, less fulfilled, less confident. Unfortunately, this is often the woman. Which is why many women wish they had… a wife!
- What are the most common problems for men in relationships?
Men often feel pressure to succeed and if there’s a family – pressure to provide. They work hard, sometimes long hours, and often come home to a woman who expects them to share home/family-chores. Men who work in male-dominated industries, become accustomed to communicating in short, directive style. They may vent frustration/ anger using language which is common in male-circles but inappropriate at home. They often have trouble winding-down after a hard-days-work and at times need a drink (or two…) which sometimes leads to a dependency. Men are less inclined than women to discuss emotional issues. They tend to bottle-up and put on a brave face. This explains the prevalence of depression and anxiety in men. Many men have a difficulty talking to a counsellor, although those able to confront their reservations and open-up benefit enormously through saving their relationships, and themselves.
- What would you like couples to know about the couple counselling process before they come in?
Don’t leave it until it’s too late! Often couples attempt counselling as the last resort before a break up. This creates a crisis intervention mode, desperation and pressure to rescue, which makes it very difficult for everyone. In most cases there are early signs, possibly a long-history of problems. There is no shame in seeking help. A few counselling sessions to discuss a “small issue” can prevent big, expensive interventions later on. Another point: a fruitful counselling process must stay away from the blame-game. Don’t blame your partner. Accept responsibility for your share in the problems, challenge yourself where did YOU go wrong and what can YOU change/ improve. In most cases, both sides are at fault.
- If you had one word of advice for couples with children, what would it be?
This too shall pass… Raising children is stressful and often creates conflict for a couple. This is due to parents being so emotionally-invested in their children. However, life is very busy and time passes quickly. Enjoy the children while they’re here. Sooner or later, they’ll leave the nest. My son has just left home for an interstate university. Overnight, I went from a busy HSC mum to being a part-empty-nester (I have another high-school boy at home but I now know he also won’t stay home forever). I’m partly liberated and excited about new opportunities on the horizon, and partly terrified of the empty-nest stage. Sounds familiar? Anyone? The moral of the story: enjoy each day for the joy it brings and trust yourself and your partner (perhaps with the help of a counsellor) to be able to overcome new challenges. Lastly, I’ve counselled many children over the years and I still do. They suffer enormous distress when their parents are in conflict. It’s best to keep parental conflicts away from the children. Relationship counselling Sydney.
- What, for you, are the most important things that couples need to remember if they want their relationship to thrive, instead of just survive?
A friend of mine, in his 60th birthday speech, thanked his wife of 38 years. He said he never knows who he’ll find in bed the next morning. Wife being an artist, a creative-type, energetic and temperamental at times, unpredictable… It’s the surprise element (good surprises please!), the adventure, the ability to reinvent, regenerate and energise each other. Being able to create, and respond to CHANGE. This is the breath of air, the oxygen that makes a relationship thrive.
However, a thriving relationship must also survive. What makes a relationship survive?
COMMITMENT and COMMUNICATION.
Commitment: “for better for worse… in sickness in health…” That’s the “contract”, the bones of the relationship. The more challenges a couple can endure, the stronger the bond between them. How do you know you will survive life’s trials? You don’t. But if you’re committed to each other, then you’re in it together. Come what may. Communication: it is the key to ANY good relationship. Luckily, communication can be a learnt and improved. There are fairly simple rules to good communication and I often teach couples how to apply these and improve their ability to problem-solve. Communication is the blood in the veins of the relationship. It keeps it alive.
CCC: Commitment and Communication – to survive, Change – to thrive. A good relationship needs all 3Cs.
- What do you find is the most satisfying and fulfilling part of this work that you do?
I love helping people and I feel privileged to do this for a job. When relationships improve, individuals are happier and able to perform better, create and achieve. This is the most rewarding aspect of my work!!!
If you would like to make a booking with her or any other of our psychologists, you are welcome to fill out an enquiry form here, or call our friendly receptionists on 1300 830 552.