Counsellor Interview with Morgan (Relationship Counselling Sydney)

Counsellor Interview with Morgan (Relationship Counselling Sydney)

marriage counselling sydneyMorgan is a perceptive and thoughtful counsellor with over 14 years of professional experience. He is a clinical member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Association of Australia, Australian Society of Sex Educators and Research Therapists NSW, and the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association.

To read more about Morgan or view his psychologist profile, click here.  Relationship counselling Sydney.

  1. What has made you interested in helping couples with their relationships?

It is essential for every individual to obtain mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.   A key element of well-being is to have a close relationship with someone we can trust, rely on, and have the skills and ability to develop these relationships throughout our lives.  This core value and belief lead me to counselling which allows me to work effectively with couples to achieve their goals.

  1. What are the most common relationships problems that you see in couples coming to you?

Feeling mistreated and abused, fighting over common issues, insecurity of the relationship continuing, relating to partner issues, feeling misunderstood and not listened to, not enough attention, feeling invisible in the relationship, dealing with a partner’s habits not conducive to the relationship e.g. addiction problems, infidelity, domestic non-involvement.

  1. What are the most common problems for women in relationships?

Partner not being open and honest, their partner not listening to them, family issues with children, needs not being met, feeling unsupported and isolated, feeling of being overwhelmed, a sense of not knowing what to do to help the relationship, abusive and violent behaviour toward them, infidelity (direct with someone else, covert by the internet)

  1. What are the most common problems for men in relationships?

Partner not listening to them, difficulty in communicating verbally and non-verbally, family issues with children, needs not being met, intimacy issues, abusive behaviour, infidelity (direct with someone else, covert by the internet), perception of an over emotional partner.

  1. What would you like clients to know about the couple counselling process before they come in?

Confidentiality is assured. The focus throughout counselling remains with the clients.  Initial appointment allows defining clearly what the concern is from each partner.  What does each partner expect from couples counselling? An atmosphere is established where each can be open and feel safe in the session. Current familial relationship structure is explored to understand the couple’s close social links and responsibilities. Background information is gathered from each so that an understanding of the relationship’s beginnings and pre-relationship issues are clearly understood. Throughout sessions strategies and suggestions are discussed and are linked to specific actions each partner could do before the next session where insights and difficulties are discussed.   One-on-one confidential counselling may be necessary to allow deeper understanding of each partner and their issues or concerns.

  1. Which couple has made the biggest turnaround, from being in severe trouble to transforming their relationship into a happy loving one?

A couple sought counselling as they did not want to divorce for several strongly held beliefs and values.   The couples saw no way to rekindle their relationship and repair their individual relationships with their children.   Both partners acknowledged that an obsession with online pornography and infidelity had been further impacting their deteriorating relationship.  Feelings of anger, betrayal, blame and grief lead to emotional outbursts by both couples which further impeded the growth of their relationship.  By clearly identifying their concerns and assisting them to develop identify skills and behaviours to allow the couple to work through their concerns allowed for the addictive behaviour relating to pornography to cease.  Working with the clients in a non-judgemental manner allowed the couples to develop a loving and respectful relationship.

  1. If you had one word of advice for couples with children, what would it be?

Create

  1. What advice would you give to couples trying to rebuild their relationship after an affair?

Forgiving is possible, forgetting is not. The affair will not be forgotten however it can be forgiven. Remember the core reasons why you chose your partner; your decision was carefully considered at the time, now it the time to rebuild after the hurricane. It takes time and patience. Practice affection, attention, and appreciation (gratitude) toward your partner daily.

  1. What, for you, are the most important things that couples need to remember if they want their relationship to thrive, instead of just survive?

Maintain good communications to bring yourselves together, have some fun together away from the pressures of daily life – have a date night (or better day), work through difficult issues and don’t walk away, provide each other with emotional support, be compassionate and forgiving, share your goals and dreams

  1. What proportion of your couple clients manage, with your help, to successfully recreate a happy relationship from the difficult one that they came in with?

Most couples leave therapy with a strategy and tools to improve their relationship. On a few occasions couples needed help to refocus after a period following their last session.  This shows that the couples identified early that they needed further assistance and sought this help promptly.  Frequently I receive new clients from referrals received from previous clients.

  1. What do you find is the most satisfying and fulfilling part of this work that you do?

Seeing couples grow and develop individually and happily together – the look in each other’s eyes shows emotional, spiritual, family, and social contentment.  Occasionally, couples decide to separate.  To watch these couples separate with mutual respect towards each other, their families and social contacts is rewarding combined with effective communication skills allows the individuals to have a strong yet different kind of relationship.    Occasionally children form part of the couple’s family, to observe couples develop strong and loving parental roles with their children if separation occurs is a further fulfilling aspect in my work.

  1. List 3 qualities that your friends and family would describe you as having

Perceptive, flexible, empathetic.

  1. List 3 strengths that you have as a Counsellor

Hope and optimism, willingness to establish a therapeutic alliance, empathy.

  1. How many years’ experience do you have practicing/helping clients?

I have over 14 years’ experience helping clients with relationship issues.

 

If you would like to make a booking with Morgan 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.

Psychologist Interview with Melanie (Relationship Counselling Sydney)

marriage counselling sydneyMelanie has worked as a registered Psychologist for over 12 years, in a variety of public and private settings and provides marriage and relationship counselling Sydney. She particularly loves working with couples and families, as she feels that having healthy relationships is essential to our overall happiness.

To read more about Melanie or view her psychologist profile, click here.  Relationship counselling Sydney.

 

  1. What has made you interested in helping couples with their relationships?
    I started my career working as a school counsellor, seeing children and adolescents, but also working with their families. I realised here how important the foundation of the parent relationship is in a family. It doesn’t really matter how many activities your kids are involved in, how many holidays you take them on, what laptop you buy them, couples who nurture their own relationship are stronger to ‘run’ the family, set a good example for their children and give their children a sense of stability and security. So after working in schools for a little while I wanted to impact families from another angle by working directly with couples. The experience of working with couples was more satisfying than I could have imagined. To learn and see that people can develop themselves and heal from past emotional wounds through the context of a supportive relationship made the work even more meaningful.
  1. What do you find are the most common relationships problems that you see in couples coming in to see you?
    Since I have specialised in sex therapy (I still work with couples for other problems too), I am getting an increased number of clients who are coming in for these issues. Quite often they are issues of mismatched libidos, or a change in the sexual dynamic or relationship that is difficult to understand. Sometimes it surprises me how long couples wait to get help when it is about sex but it is also understandable because it can be challenging to talk about your sex life with a complete stranger. My advice is to come in early because preventative work is a lot easier and more successful than dealing with something that has been there for many years. Issues in the sexual side of the relationship can be a reflection of issues in other parts of the relationship but sometimes it is purely about the physiology and biology of sex and this needs to be addressed directly and so it isn’t necessarily a reflection of the relationship generally.
  1. What are the most common problems for women and for men in relationships?
    To answer this question, I have to make some generalisations because gender roles and gender issues in relationships are really shifting. One thing in relation to this issue both men and women must deal with is that we can’t rely on societal ideas of what women or men are supposed to do or be like in a relationship. This means that all aspects of a relationship need to be discussed and negotiated eg who does the what domestic jobs, how do you parent together, who is the organiser and who is the doer etc. This means that couples need good communication skills to be able to do this and can’t make assumptions. If one assumes that their partner will be responsible for a particular task and then they don’t do it this can lead to all sorts of problems. For women, they can feel like they are being unfairly burdened with the domestic jobs or have unrealistic expectations of what their partner should do and men can feel like things are being expected of them outside of the ‘contract’ of their relationship or alternatively that their partner is not competent in doing the things that are their responsibility. We are living in exciting times as we are moving closer to gender equality which means that each couple can decide how to structure their relationship- this can be based on traditional gender roles or completely different and unique to the couple- but it all has to be negotiated explicitly.
  1. What are the most common problems for men in relationships?
    See about to answer both questions- I’ve edited the question to include both men and women. Relationship counselling Sydney.
  1. What would you like couple clients to know about the couple counselling process before they come in?
    Before couples come in to counselling I would like them to know that part of the process taking the counselling home. It is just as important what they do in between sessions to create change as it is what happens in session, if not more. So, at the beginning all the challenging or important things might happen in session but unless this is transferred to day to day life at home then there can’t be any sustainable change.
  1. What has been the couple you remember who has made the biggest turnaround, from being in severe trouble to transforming their relationship into a happy loving one?
    One couple who really stands out for me is a couple who were in the early years of their marriage and had just had their first child. In their first few sessions their resentment and hurt toward one another created a heavy feeling in the room as they sat as far away from one another on the couch in my office. They blamed each other for every unhappiness in their lives even though they told me the beautiful story of love at first sight when they met. Slowly as we worked through things they began to hear what the other was hurt about, they stopped personalising it and hearing it as a criticism and each of them began to see the things that they could change to make the relationship better. They were sitting closer to each other on the couch and reaching out to comfort one another if they became emotional in session. It was so beautiful to watch this change and shift. They now have 3 beautiful children and I occasionally have some of their friends coming in for counselling on their recommendation and comment of how much it changed their lives. As therapists, we don’t often hear about what happens to our couples after they finish counselling but it has been nice in this instance to hear that this couple is going strong.
  1. What, for you, are the most important things that couples need to remember if they want their relationship to thrive, instead of just survive?
    The most important things for a relationship are respect, time and fun and a sense of humour. I was once told that the word respect could be seen as re- again; spect- to look – so to look at again. This is what I mean by respect- look at it again, notice things that are happening, give it attention, even look at it with fresh eyes from time to time. Giving it this time and attention is the respect necessary to keep your finger on the pulse of the relationship. We monitor everything else that is important for us in our lives- our work or study progress, our health, our children- why is the relationship any different?
    This leads to the importance of time. If we don’t spend time on the relationship then there is no chance for it to thrive. I often see that couples with children don’t differentiate between family time and couple time. These are two very different things. Taking the family to the beach is a different experience to going to your favourite couple restaurant and spending time to know what is going on in your partner’s internal world.
    Lastly fun and a sense of humour. This is an important ingredient in day to day life. It can be so challenging to have this appear in a day when there is so much rushing around, dealing with work deadlines, sick children, the mundaneness of housekeeping but this is exactly where it is important. Fun doesn’t have to happen only on a day the family has a day out at Luna Park, it is an attitude driven by the idea that this family loves each other, cares for each other and the most important thing is that everyone is happy and healthy. With this filter, you can choose to let certain inconsequential conflicts slide for the greater good of the relationship and laugh off one another’s shortcomings.
  1. What do you find is the most satisfying and fulfilling part of this work that you do?
    The most satisfying part of my work is when couples make the big leap from finger pointing to taking responsibility for their own behaviour. This creates a magical shift in counselling after which time so much change and growth is possible. It is from this position that relationships can thrive or alternatively individuals can have a really clear understanding of whether they still want to be in the current relationship. Blaming really blinds us to what is really going on.
  1. What are 3 qualities that your friends and family would describe you as having?
    I became a psychologist because I was the one that my friends and family would naturally go to for an ear to listen or some advice. They suggested that I would be a good therapist and it got me thinking about a career in this field when I was still in high school. They would describe me as really patient, caring and having a calming nature. I’m glad I listened to their advice in this because I really love my work. Relationship counselling Sydney.
  1. How many years’ experience do you have practicing/helping clients?
    I have been working as a psychologist for 15 years now. The more I work with couples the more I feel like I learn about the way people do relationships differently and how powerful a relationship can be in supporting change and healing in one’s individual life as well. This isn’t just about someone being there for you to be able to heal. It is quite often in the way we replay and relive patterns through our romantic relationships that help us recover from our old narratives and experiences. That is why I feel the work that is done through relationship counselling can be so powerful. Relationship counselling Sydney.

 

If you would like to make a booking with Deborah 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.

Rules for a healthy relationship

As we all know, having a happy and healthy relationship is never simple.

Even the best of relationships and marriages will get stuck in too much distance or blame. The natural course of relationships is often downstream, unless you are intentional about paddling against the current.

Relationship Essentials

Here are some of the absolute essentials Harriet Lerner, a very experienced couples Therapist and renowned author on relationship feels is important to pay attention to:

1. Warm Things Up. Make at least two positive comments every day to your partner and speak about the specifics about what you admire (“I loved how funny you were at the party last night”). Make sure that your positive comments exceed critical ones by a healthy margin.

2. Dial down the criticism. Try to let all but the most important issues go by. When you have a criticism, make it in three sentences or less. Remember this: No one can survive in a marriage (at least not happily) if they feel more judged than admired.

3. Overcome Your Listening Deficit Disorder. Whole-hearted listening is the greatest gift you can give to your partner. Drop the defensiveness, and listen only to understand, without interrupting, correcting facts, or counter-punching. Save your defense for another conversation.

4. Be self-focused. Connect with friends and family, pursue your own interests, and be of service to others. If your primary energy isn’t directed to living your own life as well as possible, you’ll be over-focused on your partner in a worried or critical way.

5. Apologize. Offer the olive branch. You can say, “I’m sorry for my part of the problem” even if you’re secretly convinced that you’re only 28% to blame.

6. Don’t Demand an Apology. Don’t get into a tug of war about his failure to apologize. An entrenched non-apologizer may use a nonverbal way to try to defuse tension, reconnect after a fight, or show he’s in a new place and wants to move toward you. Accept the olive branch in whatever form it’s offered.

7. Sweat the Small Stuff. When you say you’ll do something, do it! Never assume that your overall contribution to the relationship compensates for failing to do what you have agreed to do, whether it’s picking up your socks or moving the boxes out of the garage by Sunday.

sydney loving relationship counselling

8. Stop the emotional pursuit. Under stress, don’t press. If you pursue a distancer, he or she will distance more. Consider it a fundamental law of physics. Focus less on your partner, and more on your own life plan. A distant partner is more likely to move toward you when he or she has breathing room and can see you taking good care of yourself.

9 Say it Shorter! A distant partner may avoid conversation because it feels awful to him or her. Sometimes the culprit is the sheer number of sentences and the intensity in our voice. Slow down your speech, turn down the volume, and lower the intensity.

10. Know your bottom line. Be flexible in changing for your partner 84% of the time, but don’t sacrifice your core values, beliefs and priorities under relationship pressures. Your relationship will spiral downward if you have an “anything goes” policy.

11. Exit a conversation when you are on the receiving end of rude or demeaning treatment. You can say, “I’m giving myself a time out from this conversation. I’m here to listen when you can talk to me calmly and with respect.” Keep your actions congruent with these words.

12. Be a mystery. It’s comfortable and cozy when two people know absolutely everything about each other but we’re more likely to be drawn to a partner who has connections and a passion for life outside the relationship. So take a dance class, skiing lessons, or join a book group with friends. The more passion you show for life outside your marriage, the more zest you’ll find within it.

13. Make rules about technology. Agree on “time-out rules” from anything you’re prohibited from using during takeoff and landing in an airplane. For example, mobile phones off and out of sight during food preparation and eating meals and no answering land lines. No taking calls in the middle of a conversation or when people are visiting.

relationship counsleling for sex in relationships

14. Initiate sex. If you are the distancer in bed, initiate sex once in a while even if you don’t feel like it. A long-term relationship won’t flourish if your partner is someone for whom sex is an enlivening essential force and you’re too unavailable. To decide you won’t be a physical partner because you don’t feel like it is like his (or her) deciding that there will be no more conversation because he’s not a talker. If you have a fair and good partner, there is probably something you can do that wouldn’t be too terribly difficult. (P.S. If you’re the pursuer in bed, back off.)

15. Work on relationships in your first family. Become a good questioner about family history, and observe and change your part in triangles and dysfunctional family patterns. You’ll stand on more solid ground with your partner if you navigate family-of-origin relationships with more creativity and less reactivity.

16. Start Small. Remember that it’s the direction of change that matters, and not the speed of travel. Real change sometimes occurs at glacial speed. Pick two rules from the above and stick with them. Your relationship thanks you in advance!

If you need any help in your relationship please contact us. We have 70 Relationship Psychologists Australia wide who can help you.

(Adapted from MARRIAGE RULES by Harriet Lerner, 2012.)