Relationship Difficulties?

There are often times in the life of a relationship that the relationship itself is in trouble, where there is conflict or where distance or deadness has crept in and replaced intimacy. Couples therapy can make the difference as to whether a relationship can be revived and restored, or not.


Counselling services for couples



The need for better communication between arises again and again in almost every couple seeking help.

“In the busyness of life that has now become so customary, we find that communication is a frequent casualty.”

Sometimes, couples have never communicated very fully.  Perhaps this worked when things were going well. But when issues arise, there is no substitute for full and frank communication. Sometimes, one party is unhappy and doesn’t know why.  Taking time out, making a space for communication that is facilitated by a qualified and experienced therapist, can be pivotal in sorting things out and bringing to view a better way forward. Couples therapy offers the opportunity for mutual understanding, empathy and re-connecting.


There is no substitute for clarity.

It is important to understand that a therapist or counsellor will usually not say: “I think you should stay together for the sake of the children”, or oppositely: “I think this has run its course”. These are major life decisions that always remain yours.

The role of a couples counsellor is to open the channels of communication, help you articulate your feelings, perceptions, and especially what is affecting you, and support the relationship while serving truth and authenticity. Sometimes, your respective positions are conflicted or opposed. And sometimes these differences can be bridged through effective communication. Often, there is a need to say what you feel but you also don’t want to hurt your partner. In these situations, we work to balance the need for honesty and the desire to protect the other’s feelings.


Is my partner ‘the one’?

This is a common question. Is this relationship strong enough for me to commit, invest and go forward perhaps toward marriage, or is there something better for me out there?

These are compelling and pivotal questions. Your future will be different if you choose to stay in this relationship or leave and pursue something else. It is often a hard call. This partner is a collection of plusses and minusses. It is likely another will be, too. But could the ratio of plusses be improved? Such important questions benefit from bringing thought, reflection and discussion to them. Another perspective helps. There is so much at stake.


The Question of Respect and Trust are foundational.

Many people do not understand how certain behaviours affect their partner. We find that some people do not really understand the meaning of respect for their partner or the central place of trust. For example:

  • It is important to trust but also to be seen to be trustworthy.
  • Transparency and accountability serve trust and the sense you can be trusted.
  • What is permissible in a relationship? And outside of it? How is respect expressed?
  • And what is crossing the line, inappropriate, out of order? What does disrespect mean?
  • What are the consequences of crossing the line? If damage is caused, can it be repaired?

These are vital issues and questions. They can make all the difference between a successful long term relationship or one that founders on the rocks of emotional injury and resentments.


Sexual Intimacy

couples therapy, counselling, marital problems

Sexuality is another crucial area that many couples have difficulty in addressing and improving. It is often difficult to keep sexuality alive and firing in longer term relationships. And sometimes, it is never quite right or as good as it was at the start.

We aim to be sensitive in these matters. Often, there are reasons that underlie sexual issues that need to be uncovered gently and gradually. Many clients are surprised at how much can change in ways that are not nearly so difficult (or embarrassing) as might be feared. But we do encourage you to face what needs to be faced and attend to what is in the way as frankly and openly as possible. When sexual intimacy is established or restored, it makes us happy – as so many people discover.


When ‘the past’ gets in the way of the present.

Many relationships are affected by trauma, sometimes from the distant past, possibly childhood. We cannot stress highly enough the value of addressing the consequences of trauma in the present. Here, sometimes individual therapy is recommended in the service of supporting healing and recovery.

Dr Jan Resnick has studied, taught, published, and lectured at professional conferences on this subject.  He has been a guest speaker at the Psychotherapy Section of the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatry conferences three times on this subject. There has been considerable attention to trauma professionally and in the literature that has helped therapists understand and work with survivors more effectively. The good news is that overcoming trauma is possible – but it usually takes work. Undertaking therapeutic work on trauma can greatly improve relationships.


Should I stay or should I go?

marital problems can lead to divorceSometimes, couples are uncertain as to whether the relationship should continue or whether separation cannot be avoided. And sometimes one party wants to finish and the other does not. Sometimes there are children and joint property involved. These are huge decisions that affect the whole of your present and future life and that of others. We believe such decisions are worth thinking-through and discussing fully and carefully.

Bringing an independent and impartial perspective to bear on such matters opens up new and different ways of looking at your situation. Many clients are surprised to discover how many alternative paths present themselves. If change happens, then there is much to consider in how to adjust to it and how to help the others who are affected. And sometimes, it does happen that a seemingly unredeemable situation is ‘rescued’ and the pain and loss of divorce can be avoided.


How many times have we heard: “I never thought of that!”?

Compromise is a key term in couples counselling. Sometimes, compromises are found that didn’t even seem possible before. Negotiation is another key term, at home both in business relationships and personal ones. It is also a vital process in removing blocks and obstacles, resolving differences and overcoming disappointments. Many people do not know how to do it or simply need assistance in learning and developing ways and means of negotiating, compromising and reaching lasting agreements that work for all. You cannot know what ‘you’ve never thought of before’ until it crystallizes and emerges; such insights are one aim of the therapy process.


What partners need from each other or for straight couples, what women need from men and men need from women.

Partners often need different attitudes, responses, expressions, and behaviours from each other. We don’t really think all men are from Mars and women from Venus; men are not all the same as each other, nor are women. But generally, women often say they want affection, nonsexual contact, closeness and emotional support from their partners. And some men find this difficult to understand, or to reach to, almost like a foreign language. Meanwhile, many men seem to want women to appreciate what is already given, to initiate sex more often and to be happy with things just the way they are. There are, of course, so many possible variations on these themes.

Where such differences exist, there need to be full and frank discussions that form a basis for mutual understanding. Some things can be changed, if we are willing. Some things cannot and you have to learn how to live with the limitations of your partner without undue disappointment, resentment or suffering.

In one couples session I found myself saying: “You cannot expect a dog not to bark”. We need to be able to realise our nature or personality and that of our partner. It helps to recognize what can change (how we act) and what cannot (who we are). The difference makes a difference.


The benefit of experience.

Couples therapist, therapist, marriage counsellorWe have a great deal of experience in working with couples, an area that is not well-catered for in Western Australia.  And we passionately believe in the value of paying careful attention to relationship matters in the effort to improve things.

Sometimes, it is a short-term matter of identifying what is in the way between two people and once recognised, it may not be too difficult to remedy the situation.  Sometimes, despite therapy, separation is unavoidable and here we can help in coming to this often painful decision mutually and also in helping to process the difficult transition from coupledom to life as a single and separate person.

Where mediation is called for, we have experience in this area and can undertake a formal or informal process to reach a settlement or agreement. This often saves costly legal fees and unnecessary delays. Jan is a qualified Collaborative Practitioner and Cath is qualified in Mediation and as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. We also work with Collaborative Family Lawyers, as needed.


The structure of the process for couples therapy, or also family therapy

In working with couples, we view the relationship as the client as well as each of the two (or more) individuals. Sometimes, in working with couples or small groups such as families there is a case for including individual sessions which may be undertaken by other therapists or ourselves, concurrently, depending upon the particular situation and what is most needed. The intervals between sessions can be adjusted based on need and cost management.


Free initial half hour consultation

Arrange a free half hour to discuss your particular situation with no obligation whatsoever. This gives us an opportunity to meet, to hear from you, to ask any questions, and for us to make recommendations. We can discuss fees and appointments, if you wish to proceed. We often suggest people go away and think about what they want to do; there is no pressure.

Lastly, we do also find that many clients contact us for Counselling when the relationship is in crisis. In this case, we can go straight into the earliest possible appointment available. Please do not hesitate to call and see what is possible. We can usually discuss the essentials on the phone and make some arrangement to help.


Please phone 9383 3132 or email to