By Dr Katie Stirling, Clinical Psychologist & Certified Gottman Couples Therapist.
People often ask “is couples therapy for me?” To be honest I think couples therapy is for everyone. There is so much we can learn about relationships, that will not only improve our relationship, but also our individual happiness and wellbeing. The thing I often hear from a couple after a Mornington Peninsula retreat is “I wish we had done this earlier”.
After years of running a busy psychology practice on the Mornington Peninsula and offering couples therapy retreats across the Mornington Peninsula, I’ve encountered couples who seek therapy for all kinds of reasons. In this article, I outline 5 reasons couples may seek out couples counselling.
Communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Over time, couples may find that they get stuck in unhelpful patterns of communication. You may be experiencing lots of conflict, or you might have stopped communicating in a meaningful way. When you stop communicating, even though there may be less conflict, disconnection and resentment may grows and you might begin to lose hope that change is possible. One of the things I often hear from couples is that they want practical skills and tools to change their relationship, and this is what Gottman method couples therapy is all about.
2. Infidelity / Affairs
Infidelity is one of the hardest things a couple can experience. Couples who have experienced infidelity need immediate support. When you have experienced a betrayal of trust such as an affair it can result in immense distress. A betrayal of trust is very difficult to navigate on your own. One of the things I have found working with couples experiencing a betrayal in their relationship, is the sooner you receive couples therapy the better. When we receive these types of enquiries our retreat consultant works with couples to book in a Mornington Peninsula couples retreat as soon as possible so you can minimise the duration of distress.
Intimacy goes beyond physical closeness, it’s really about connection. When couples are feeling disconnected or not communicating well, it tends to impact on intimacy. Couples therapy can help reignite intimacy that may have dwindled over time. Through guided discussions and exercises, partners can explore their desires, vulnerabilities, and fantasies, fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s needs. By nurturing intimacy, couples can cultivate a more fulfilling and passionate relationship.
Life is full of transitions. Whether it’s welcoming a new family member, adjusting to a career change, moving, or coping with loss. Couples experience a number of transitions that can impact on their relationship. For example, I often see couples during the transition to parenthood or “empty nesters” where kids are leaving home ,or the couple is entering retirement. Couples therapy provides you with the skills and resources to manage these transitions. A couples therapist can help you have the “difficult” conversations and support you to understand each other’s experience. Couples Therapy can also be a great place to navigate these significant changes, and identify new goals for your relationship.
Stress has an enormous impact on your individual wellbeing and relationship satisfaction. Couples therapy equips partners with coping mechanisms and resilience-building skills, enabling them to navigate life’s ups and downs as a united team. Research shows us that being in a supportive relationship actually protects us from life stressors. Studies have even shown partner support can reduce our experience of pain. Fascinating stuff. But sometimes in relationship we can get caught in ways of coping that turn us away from the relationship and each other. Couples therapy can help break unhelpful patterns and teach you the skills to better manage stress and to support your partner through challenging situations, we will all inevitably face.
Couples therapy is a great option for partners seeking to enhance their relationship. From addressing communication breakdowns to navigating life’s challenges, couples therapy can provide the roadmaps for couples to cultivate understanding, trust, and love. By prioritising your relationship’s well-being you can move towards a more fulfilling and harmonious partnership.
If you and your partner find yourselves facing difficulties, remember that help is only a phone call away. Change is possible, but we all need a little help sometimes. If you find that traditional couples therapy isn’t the best option for you, you might want to try a couples therapy retreat. Whatever way you seek support, try and take action as soon as you can- for you, your partner and your relationship.
Dr Katie Stirling is a Clinical Psychologist and Certified Gottman Couples Therapist. Katie previously owned a busy psychology practice on the Mornington Peninsula. She now works exclusively with couples, providing couples therapy retreats across the peninsula and in Bali.
ph +613 8583 6999