Being in a relationship can have a profoundly positive effect on your sense of self and wellbeing.
The benefits of sustaining good relationships are well documented: people in healthy relationships tend to live longer and experience less physical, emotional and mental health issues. Conversely, being in a relationship beset by problems can have a crippling effect on one’s self-esteem, and capacity to live life to the fullest.
The good news is that there is hope for those struggling with relationship issues. A growing body of evidence-based on decades of couples counselling research – suggests that with appropriate therapeutic support, couples can overcome relationship issues and live happy, fulfilling lives together.
Closeness, communication and commitment are the keys to authentic intimacy. Life Supports couples counsellors and psychologists can help you unlock the doors to relationship success.
If you’re experiencing difficulties in any of the areas listed below, you’re not alone. When problems arise in these areas, couples often seek help. Rest assured that all of these concerns may be addressed and resolved with effective couples counselling:
Relationships are as individual as the people in them. Each relationship presents unique circumstances and challenges, particularly when there are different backgrounds, personalities and value systems involved. Your counsellor or psychologist will form a collaborative alliance with you. Together, you will identify key areas for change and learn practical tools to help you and your partner create a mutually beneficial, rewarding relationship.
Life Supports relationship counsellors and psychologists use proven, evidence-based therapeutic techniques such as Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT-C) and Integrative Behavioural Couples Therapy (IBCT) to help our clients create successful and happy relationships.
Seeking expert support is crucial for those wishing to improve their relationships. Setting achievable relationship goals and exploring healthy communication skills are the keys to enhancing your relationship, and living a life together that is free of unnecessary conflict and stress. Life Supports accredited relationship psychologists and counsellors are qualified, experienced and competent to provide you with the specialist services you need.
Relationship counselling services may be subsidised through Medicare or your Private Health Insurer. Please read Medicare rebate for counselling services or Private health insurance for counselling services for further information.
Life Supports counsellors offer confidential relationship counselling services from offices in all major cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Gold Coast and many other various local towns and cities through-out Australia.
To make a marriage last it takes commitment, perseverance and a lot of flexibility. When a marriage is working well, both partners feel supported within the relationship and its common goals, and as individual people with their own unique hopes, values and interests.
Marriage is a bond between life partners – a promise to love, care for, respect and support each other through the joys and lows of existence. Over time, the stress and monotony of daily life can take a toll on the foundation of any marriage. Feelings of detachment, anger and disappointment can taint what once felt exciting, connected and intimate.
Conflict happens in every relationship – what matters most is how you and your spouse choose to resolve your differences. Successful conflict resolution is the key to a strong and supportive marriage.
A strong body of marital therapy research shows that marriages grow, evolve and become stronger when partners consciously choose to work through problems and conflicts together as a team. Too often each partner takes up a position on an issue and is so busy defending their point of view that they’re not really hearing what their partner is feeling and trying to communicate.
At its heart, a good marriage is about mutual compromise and reciprocal support.
Marriage counselling nurtures the lifelong bond between partners and equips couples with essential communication and negotiation skills. Instead of constantly defaulting into conflict and turning against each other, married couples learn new ways of working together towards shared goals by tackling life’s challenges as a united front, a committed and caring team of two.
Couples often get stuck in entrenched and rigid roles, the same tired old ways of relating that create stressful gridlocked traffic jams on the road to connection.
In marriage counselling, there’s an opportunity in each session to explore different approaches to resolving issues, then couples can take those strategies home and practice new ways of communicating and connecting with each other.
As psychotherapist and marriage expert Esther Perel has said, “the triggers that a couple argue about is not nearly as important as how they act toward one another.”
People are complex. We can all behave in hurtful ways and make choices that negatively impact on other people, and at the same time be thoughtful, loving and caring towards others. Our partners are no different: yet when resentment builds up over time, it can be hard to look past what we don’t like about our spouse’s behaviour, and remember why we fell in love and got married in the first place.
A good marriage counsellor or psychologist will hold that messy human complexity, without judgement, and focus on the personal strengths and positive attributes each spouse brings to the relationship. Specialist marriage counselling helps couples to fortify their relationship in simple yet effective ways to ensure long-term satisfaction.
The key to a lasting marriage? Couples who attend counselling together learn how to combine their unique interpersonal strengths to overcome any challenges that might otherwise destabilise their marriage. Reducing relationship distress in this way creates space for more trust, intimacy and genuine connection.
Below are the some of the most common concerns that engaged and married couples seek help for at various life stages over the course of their relationship. All of these concerns can be addressed and resolved with specialist marriage counselling:
It’s important to address ongoing concerns so they don’t become a threat to the stability and strength of your marriage.
Marriages tend to have repetitive patterns and themes to their conflict. Often what matters deeply to one person may seem insignificant or a non-issue to their spouse, and vice versa. When partners assume opposing stances on any issue and hold firm, seemingly small everyday annoyances can snowball over time to form a mountain of marital grievances and hurt feelings.
Marriage counselling is an opportunity to address core issues of importance for each partner and negotiate ways to meet each other’s relationship needs, without collapsing into endless rounds of arguments or episodes of avoidance. Under the skilled guidance of a marriage counsellor, disrupting the cycle of dissatisfaction stemming from unproductive communication creates space for change and growth within the relationship.
Dramas, hardship and difficulties occur in every life, and every marriage. While marriage counselling won’t prevent stressful situations from happening, it can help couples to navigate problems successfully, and feel closer as they face life’s challenges together. Effective marriage counselling empowers couples to step out of old patterns and into new ways of relating, allowing mutual care and commitment to shine through.
One of the major benefits of marriage counselling is rebuilding trust between partners. This isn’t just about moving past events like an affair, deceit or betrayal - but trusting that your partner still loves, respects and cherishes you. Knowing in your bones that your spouse is still interested and curious about who you are as a person, and is actively committed to supporting you to grow and thrive. Marriage therapist and researcher John Gottman calls this ‘turning towards’ your partner – a crucial attachment and bonding skill many couples learn in counselling after spending so long avoiding conflict hot spots, or simply growing apart.
Research into a range of marriage counselling approaches suggest that rebuilding trust and intimacy in a marriage starts with honest, respectful communication. Results from longitudinal studies, where researchers followed up with couples for years after they participated in marriage counselling, suggest that the couples who committed to:
were still married for years after completing counselling, and reported sustained reductions in marital distress, anxiety and conflict. Best of all, across all studies, these couples reported a significant increase in sexual and relationship satisfaction over the long-term course of their marriages.
Marriage counselling targets common problems to achieve better communication between spouses, resulting in positive marriage traits that are associated with lasting commitment and connection.
A strong marriage requires determination and dedicated focus. Old patterns are hard to shift, and neuroscientific research tells us that while old habits don’t die – we can replace them.
Our brain has infinite potential to create new habits: neural pathways in the mind that develop when we choose to behave and relate in different ways. Practiced often enough, the stronger these positive patterns of relating become.
When we commit to personal change in counselling, we’re also working on the foundations of our marriage. In time, the relationship skills we learn become the ‘new normal’ default mode for both partners – and the marriage functions from a satisfying baseline of open communication, loving kindness and trust.
In the first session of marriage counselling, couples will often present with some long-term frustrations or ongoing stressors that have spiked into a feeling of immediate and overwhelming crisis ‘today’. This ‘today’ crisis might have triggered their motivation to seek the help of a marriage counsellor to reduce relationship distress. Yet the crisis point is often the outcome of stagnant, entrenched patterns of relating between two people bringing different life experiences, beliefs and attitudes into the marriage.
By addressing the underlying points of disconnect, couples can be confident in moving forward that they are equipped to deal with any other crises that life puts in their path.
A skilled marriage counsellor holds a safe, impartial space for married couples to approach the current deadlocked conflict, put it into context, and move the focus from blame and defensiveness to a shared sense of understanding and reconciliation. By cultivating a sense of curiosity about one’s partner and self, new insights about each other’s motivations and behaviours start to emerge.
A good marriage counsellor helps couples to find a common sense of purpose within the relationship. By healing past hurts and bringing the future into focus, couples can move into a new marriage paradigm: it’s no longer me against you, but us against the problem. We will move through this, and we will do it together – stronger than ever before.
If you and your partner have already made the decision to divorce and have decide that your relationship is over, divorce counselling is an option many couples seek in order to minimise the level of harm caused by separation and maximise the good will and functioning during a separation. Even if you have decided together that the relationship is over, good communication and divorce counselling can have many benefits not just for the partners' wellbeing and quality of life, but also for the affected families and children involved. Letting go of someone that you love is a major stressor in anyone's life, but getting professional guidance during the separation can help.
Life Supports accredited marriage support psychologists and counsellors are highly qualified and experienced. We are committed to helping you and your spouse to genuinely connect with each other whilst exploring innovative yet practical ways to achieve and maintain marital satisfaction.
Marriage counselling services may be subsidised through Medicare or your Private Health Insurer. Please read Medicare rebate for counselling services or Private health insurance for counselling services for further information.
Wiebe, S. A., Johnson, S. M., Lafontaine, M. F., Burgess Moser, M., Dalgleish, T. L., & Tasca, G. A. (2017). Two‐year follow‐up outcomes in emotionally focused couple therapy: An investigation of relationship satisfaction and attachment trajectories. Journal of marital and family therapy, 43(2), 227-244.
Wiebe, S. A., Elliott, C., Johnson, S. M., Burgess Moser, M., Dalgleish, T. L., Lafontaine, M. F., & Tasca, G. A. (2019). Attachment Change in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy and Sexual Satisfaction Outcomes in a Two-year Follow-up Study. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 18(1), 1-21.Carr, A. (2019). Couple therapy, family therapy and systemic interventions for adult‐focused problems: the current evidence base. Journal of Family Therapy, 41(4), 492-536.
It is common for one or two family members to initiate the counselling process, with other family members joining in if and when they are ready. We also provide individual family counselling if you need a non-judgmental, confidential space to explore and address your own family issues. Family counselling is suitable for both small and larger family groups– there are no prerequisites that the entire family needs to be present.
In fact, family counselling can be incredibly effective even if certain family members choose not to participate. Your Life Supports relationship counsellor or psychologist will collaborate with your family to build on relational strengths and encourage change and interpersonal growth opportunities.
Often couples that are new to the counselling experience are worried that relationship therapy may be biased towards one partner, emotionally confrontational, or that it simply won’t work. To ensure this is not the case, each session is:
We frequently see clients for individual relationship counselling. Sometimes one partner is reluctant to seek help, or simply unable to attend counselling due to work commitments or geographical distance.
The great news is that individual counselling is just as effective as joint couple counselling when it comes to improving relationship quality. Recent research by clinical psychologist Dr Howard Markman studied 300 married and unmarried couples who attended relationship skills counselling together or individually: results from the study indicated that those who attended counselling individually showed a marked improvement in the quality of their relationships, on par with those who attended counselling with their partner.
You may be struggling with conflicting thoughts and feelings about your relationship; you might be having difficulty balancing your own needs with the demands of your partner or family. In some cases, you may be experiencing the feelings of depression, anger, anxiety or grief associated with separation or divorce.
Whatever you bring to counselling, your Life Supports relationship specialist will work alongside you to help make sense of your experience, and support you moving forward in a constructive and positive way. For some clients, simply talking through issues can be a helpful process, while others may be looking for specific guidance or strategies to enhance their relationships. Together we will identify the most constructive and useful way that we can support you to make sense of your relationship and bring about positive change in your life.
According to the American Psychological Association, marriage counselling using up-to-date techniques has a roughly 75% success rate, but success varies depending on the practitioner and the types of issues the relationship is tackling. One of the most important factors determining the success of marriage counselling is a willingness to change, so attitude is particularly important.
Evidence suggests about 44% of all couples who get married today attend couples therapy before they’ve actually wed. Marriage counselling is extremely common and can be sought at all different stages in a relationship. Your relationship doesn’t need to be on its last legs for you to seek counselling – in fact, counselling can be a great way to identify issues before they become unmanageable. Conversely, no matter how bad things seem counselling may still be able to help you repair – or rebuild – your marriage.
Pre-marital counselling is all about preparing a couple for marriage; helping establish each other’s boundaries, values and ideas about the future of your relationships. It can be a really powerful way to ensure the stability of your marriage, and field against any uncomfortable surprises or frictions.
There is no set point beyond which your marriage is ‘troubled’ enough to warrant counselling. In reality, marriage counselling can be just as effective as a preventative measure – to keep your marriage strong and healthy before issues arise – as it can be to help heal existing problems. Some signs you may benefit from marriage counselling, however, include:
While infidelity can be an extremely destructive force in a marriage, there is powerful evidence that marriage counselling can help couples come together again even after a betrayal. A 2000 study by Dr. Shirley Glass, for example, found that 71% of couples seen in therapy after an infidelity stayed together.
Counselling can be particularly helpful after infidelity because it opens up a safe, mediated space for couples to talk honestly about the reasons behind the affair, and to address issues affecting both partners. This can help both partners to process the infidelity and move on in a healthy way.