A Safe Place for Both of You
We provide a safe place for both of you. Things won’t change unless you can both speak your own truth, and are listened to and understood.
We support each of you in talking through the things that are too difficult to discuss alone. And we’ll give you skills to practice so you can do this on your own, without judgement and escalation into fights.
If continued longer term, working in this safe place can truly transform your relationship.
The Co-Therapist Model – Both Counsellors / Therapists in the Room
You have the option to work with both of us (Amanda and Ron) in the room with both of you. This is called the Co-Therapist (or sometimes Conjoint Therapist) model. We find this model can help in understanding couple dynamics and the ways in which each individual triggers the other.
Psychologically, the square is more stable than the triangle. In other words, four people in the room (in this “mini-group” setting) provides a stability that minimises the risk of one individual in the couple feeling marginalised or excluded.
Characteristics of the Co-Therapist Model
Some of the characteristics and advantages of the Co-Therapist Model are:
- As shown in the diagram above, the number of potential interactions are much higher than in the single therapist situation. Each interaction or relationship is a source of information for us about your couple dynamics.
- The chances of “triangulation” are much reduced. This phenomenon can occur in single therapist situations when a client feels that the therapist has sided with one of the partners in the couple.
- If one of the partners is less keen to come to couples counselling then they can potentially find an ally with one of the therapists that enables them to stay.
Your Relationship as a Container
We believe your relationship is a container which can create the safety and space for each of you in the relationship to grow.
Sometimes this container cracks. Our time with you as a couple assists with repair, healing and creating a renewed and healthy relationship.
There are also some circumstances where a relationship cannot be healed, and in this case working with us can support separation in a way that is best for both of you, and for your family.
Current research in couples relationships (influenced by recent discoveries in neurobiology) strongly suggests the importance of conscious partnership – which means commitment to the needs of the relationship, rather than to the immediate needs of the individual. Yet ironically, we find that when the needs of a relationship are fully met then the needs of each individual in that relationship are often met. We really like the words of Harville Hendrix on this subject (from his Forward to Stan Tatkin’s brilliant book Wired for Love):
Your marriage is not about you. Your marriage is about itself, it is a third reality to which and for which you are responsible, and only by honouring that responsibility will you get your childhood and current needs met. When you make your relationship primary and your needs secondary, you produce the paradoxical effect of getting your needs met in ways they can never be met if you make them primary. What happens is not so much the healing of childhood wounds, which may in fact not be healable, but the creation of a relationship in which two persons are reliably and sustainably present to each other empathically.
This new emotional environment develops new neural pathways flowered with loving presence that replace the old toxic pathways that are filled with the debris of the sufferings of childhood. Couplehood becomes the container for the joy of being, which is a connected relationship. And, since the quality of couplehood determines the tenor of the social fabric, the extension of that joy from the local to the global could heal most human suffering.
Staemmler’s Schemes of Interaction
Staemmler’s Schemes of Interaction are powerful tools we often use with couples who tend to trigger each other. The diagram below shows how Staemmler’s second scheme works.
The behaviours of each partner, and the meanings attributed to them by the other partner, are in constant flux; and in constant reaction to a wide range of factors, only some of which are in their awareness.
(Frank Staemmler’s schemes of interaction are presented in his paper in Robert Lee’s book The Secret Language of Intimacy.)