Conflict is a normal part of every relationship, even in the healthiest of relationships. We all go through difficulties, as we all have different needs and ways of communicating.

Sometimes we experience relationship struggles in particular relationships (e.g. with our
partner or mother) or for time periods (e.g. at the start of a relationship or in your first few years of marriage).

Relationship Counselling and Couples Therapy

Conflict is a normal part of every relationship, even in the healthiest of relationships. We all go through difficulties, as we all have different needs and ways of communicating. Sometimes we experience relationship struggles in particular relationships (e.g. with our partner or mother) or for time periods (e.g. at the start of a relationship or in your first few years of marriage).

Arguments and dissatisfaction in relationships can affect your mood, daily choices, and your comfort with the other person, possibly leading you to question the longevity of the relationship.

If left unchecked or unresolved, reoccurring or significant issues can evolve into deeper and much more troublesome problems.

Couples counselling or relationship therapy is a highly successful way of delving deeper into relationship’s issues, and working through them in a productive, safe and nurturing environment.

You can work through relationship issues individually with a psychologist or jointly with a couples therapist.

A couples therapist provides a space for each party to speak openly about their difficulties, without feeling blamed or judged for the couples’ issues.

A couples therapist views the couple as an ‘eco-system’, rather than as ‘individuals’ who are causing the issue.

Two women embracing one another providing support

Relationship counselling is often viewed as a ‘last resort’ or a ‘final compromise’ to keep one party happy – however, many couples, without major relationship issues find that couples counselling has huge benefits to them.

Couples therapy can successfully transform a relationship to not only function, but also flourish.

At Peaceful Mind Psychology, our couples counselling and relationship therapy strives to achieve relationship well-being.

Relationship counselling or couples therapy can lead to both parties feelings freer in their relationship, more trust and closeness, and excitement for the future.

What are the signs that a relationship is headed for trouble?

  • Frequent, reoccurring threats of ending or creating distance in the relationship.
  • Repetitive arguments, where you find you’re cycling though the same types of arguments (e.g., arguments about money or how to parent your children).
  • Distance from each other. This may be experienced as uncomfortable, and unsettling, possibly causing anxiety. Distance in a relationship can also be poor or little communication, where one or both people avoid discussing their difficulties or concerns.
  • Significant erosion of trust in one another.
  • Difficulty bouncing back after an argument. That is, someone may feel injured and find it difficult to forgive the other person and re-focus on normal enjoyable activities.
  • Hiding of secrets from each other, or not feeling safe, confident, or comfortable to discuss serious issues.
  • Your sex life, or intimacy together has shifted significantly, and feels either uncomfortable, unenjoyable or unsatisfying.
  • You perceive your partner as an antagonistic figure, perhaps you’re feeling like they’re always ‘looking for a fight’.
  • You’re constantly communicating negatively with each other, where you’re putting each other down or being hyper-critical.
  • If you’re being unfaithful or having an affair.

What are some of the causes of relationship stress?

  • Difficult life situations: For example, someone may be under pressure with concern for a loved one’s health or be experiencing stress at work. If they struggle to handle or communicate their emotions, they may act irrationally, be irritable, distance themselves or blame others for their difficulties.
  • Communication problems: Some people struggle to communicate their needs and feelings clearly and rationally. While others completely supress their needs and go forward feeling dissatisfied and resentful.
  • Different styles of relating: Most people feel comfortable being in each other’s company, just as much as they feel comfortable being apart – this is called secure attachment. Some people feel uncomfortable with too much intimacy and crave independence – this is called avoidant attachment. While other people feel anxious when they are separated from their loved one and worry the relationship is under threat – this is called anxious attachment. Certain combinations of attachment styles (e.g., avoidant attachment with anxious attachment) can cause relationship stress.

Young couple lean on each other as the sun sets.

How can relationship counselling improve your relationship?

  • There are several well-researched therapies that are effective in improving relationships and individual ways of relating. Depending on the nature of your relationship difficulty, it may be preferable to seek therapy as a couple or family, and or individually. Individual therapies include: Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
  • Couples and family therapies include: Gottman Method to Relationship Therapy, Solution-focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Family Systems Therapy, Communications and parent training, Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

Changes we often observe after attending relationship counselling or couple’s therapy

Even the most doubtful or sceptical parties of a relationship often leave relationship counselling with a much better understanding of their partner, their relationship and themselves.

After six to eight sessions with a trained psychologist (and sometimes even sooner), both parties of the relationship should be able to identify potential triggers and work through conflict in a far more productive manner.

At Peaceful Mind Psychology, our psychologists work with couples to achieve a happier and healthier relationship, including:

  • Decreased frequency and intensity of arguments.
  • An ability to identify and deescalate arguments even before they occur.
  • Increased levels of trust, allowing for both parties to feel more personal freedom and greater feelings of happiness within the relationship.
  • Improved and increased sex life and intimacy.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?

If you’re looking for skilled couples counselling in Melbourne or individual relationship therapy, to address your relationship’s difficulties in a warm and professional environment, then our psychologists at Peaceful Mind Psychology can help.

Take the first step towards a happier, healthier, and closer relationship by reaching out and accessing professional relationship counselling and couple’s therapy.

Our warm, empathetic, and highly skilled team of professionals are ready to help. Your decision to engage in relationship counselling has the capacity to change your relationship future.

At Peaceful Mind Psychology, our support team will personally match you with a psychologist who best meets your relationships’ unique needs.

In addition to couples therapy, we are also experienced and trained in treating relationship difficulties with the individual.

If you’re feeling that professional intervention would help your relationship, please contact us today.

Additional resources

If you’re looking for additional resources or reading on ways to improve your relationship, the Relationship Institute of Australia has free couples resources available.

FAQs for Relationship Counselling

What is relationship counselling?

Relationship counselling is a specific type of counselling, for the purpose of resolving difficulties within a relationship. It might involve techniques to improve common issues such as communication or the management of conflict, and is a space where couples can develop an insight into the origins of their relationship issues, work on breaking unhelpful patterns, and hopefully enjoy more health, resilience, closeness, and stability in the relationship.

Some relationship problems stem from re-enactments of familiar dynamics which follow people through life in various forms. Therefore, discovering unhelpful dynamics and shifting how they play out can be challenging yet deeply healing and rewarding process.

Does relationship counselling work?

There are several factors which may improve or inhibit the progress of relationship counselling.

  • Timing: Of course, the earlier a couple seek relationship counselling to address issues when they arise, the more successful the counselling is likely to be. Unfortunately, many couples seek relationship counselling once issues have played out for a long period of time, which may mean more repair is needed before movement can be made to shift unhelpful dynamics.
  • Willingness: Relationship counselling has a higher likelihood of working if the overarching goal of counselling is shared, and both parties are willing to work on the issues together.

Successful relationship counselling may take different forms depending on the situation; one successful outcome might be an improvement in the health and resilience of a relationship. Another might be an increased capacity to communicate needs within the relationship. And another successful outcome might involve a couple reaching a better understand themselves and their dynamic, leading them to make a decision to healthily end their relationship.

What does relationship counselling involve?

Relationship counselling might involve exploration and problem solving for specific issues, including:

  • Identification of relationship strengths
  • Identification of conflict dynamics (behaviours perpetuating more pain)
  • Improvement of communication by turning toward each other
  • Exploring, understanding and resolving issues that can be changed
  • Creating circumstances which facilitate safety, respect, love, admiration and connection through shared meaning
Can counselling help a broken relationship?

Counselling may improve a couple’s insight and offer options of how to behave in relationship which are more conducive of stability and health. However, whether counselling mends a ruptured relationship or allows a couple to make an empowered decision to step away from the relationship will depend on the situation.

Some couples manage to move through incredible challenges together with the support of a couple’s counsellor. Renowned couple’s psychotherapist, Dr Esther Perel, suggests, “most people are going to have two or three marriages or committed relationships in their adult life. Some of us will have them with the same person.” It’s very possible that a ruptured relationship can become a starting point for growth and discovery of a better connection with the same person.

How much does relationship counselling cost?

Relationship counselling can vary in cost depending on the therapist, but typically rates in Australia vary between $200-$280. Unfortunately, there is no Medicare rebate when seeking relationship counselling as a couple.

Is relationship counselling worth it?

The safe space to gain insight, grow and improve your relationship is a special one and very worthy of the investment of time and resources. However, if finances are a concern, there are a range of cost-effective options out there through community health or independent relationship organisations. It would be important to gather information to weigh up relationship counselling fees, waitlists and convenience of service clinics before committing to a therapeutic relationship.

What to expect from relationship counselling?

You can expect the relationship counsellor to get a sense of your family backgrounds, early experiences of love, attachment difficulties, relationship histories, strengths, what you admire about each other and the current problem that you are sitting with together. Both members of the couple will have the opportunity to provide their perspective and tune into their partner’s perspective, to facilitate healthy communication. The work itself will be dependent on the issues raised but a relationship counsellor aims to provide a safe space for exploring, experimenting and finding helpful insights, strategies and tools to improve your relationship.

Do we need relationship counselling?

Are there problems in your relationship that continually resurface over time? Perhaps you’ve experienced a life event which has upset the balance of your relationship? Recognised relationship therapist, John Gottman suggests the four behaviours to look out for which put relationships at risk of ending are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. If these are behaviours that are apparent in your relationship it may be an important time to seek the support of a relationship counsellor. Many people seek couples counselling for issues relating to intimacy, infidelity, sex, trust, emotional support, communication, balance of domestic tasks, conflict, life transitions, changes in values and negotiating needs in relationship. Further can be read about when to seek relationship counselling in our blog article here.

How to get relationship counselling?

Here at Peaceful Mind Psychology we have several experienced and very qualified psychologists who would with couples. Please contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology if you would like to discuss arranging an appointment with one of our couples therapists.