"Being the ‘best you can be’ is really only possible when you are deeply connected to another. Splendid isolation is for planets, not people.”
- Dr Sue Johnson
My work with couples is arguably the “crowning glory” of my practice. It is my absolute passion-of-the-heart work. So much so that my PhD research and dissertation was focused in its entirety on the Mindfulness, Attachment and Satisfaction Experiences of Couples. Research has repeatedly shown that our intimate relationships influence both our own and our partner’s physical, psychological and emotional health and well-being. Personally, I further believe that our intimate relationships have a vital influence on the health and functioning of our society and world.
In addition to the 5 years spent researching intimate relationships and Attachment Theory as part of my PhD work, I’ve also completed numerous local and international professional and experiential trainings on different intimate relationship theories, frameworks and models. These include:
The Gottman Institute’s Art & Science of Love / Effective Couple’s Therapy
The Power of Intimacy with Terry Real & Esther Perel (Relational Life Institute)
Encounter-Centred Couples Therapy (Hedy & Yumi Schleifer)
Emotionally Focused Therapy (Hold Me Tight / Externship / Core Skills)
At present, I am actively furthering my advanced training and competence in the evidence-based therapy model of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Registered with both the local (EFT South Africa) and international (ICEEFT) bodies regulating the training and practice of this model, I am training towards becoming an internationally certified EFT therapist.
The couples I work with
When it comes to couples therapy, I really enjoy being able to work with couples that represent the diversity inherent to the modern intimate relationship landscape. Therefore, whether you are married or cohabiting, have been together 1 year or 50 years, are heterosexual or identify as part of the LGBTIQ community, I am happy to spend time facilitating an exploration of your intimate relationship with you.
Which couples “succeed” at therapy?
In my experience of working with couples, the therapy process is most likely to be effective and productive when both partners are:
Committed to their partner and relationship
Motivated to find ways to make the relationship work
Approaching therapy with an openness and willingness to learn more about themselves, the relationship, and ways to improve their connection
Open to owning and taking responsibility for their share in the state of the relationship
Willing to address any individual hurdles impacting the health and security of their relationship (e.g. addiction or other untreated mental health diagnosis).
As a psychologist, these are also incidentally the couples I most enjoy working with! Having said that, even if all of these aspects aren’t perfectly in place for a couple, it doesn’t mean that therapy won’t have any benefits. However, the relationship and therapy prognosis will likely be negatively impacted by partners lacking in the above stance.
Please note that, if during my initial assessment with a couple I find that there is ongoing:
Untreated addiction (substance / sex / porn / gambling etc.)
We will, unfortunately, not be able to continue with the couple therapy process until these issues have been addressed.
The couples therapy process
The first 2-3 sessions with couples are 90 minutes in duration. During these first sessions a complete clinical assessment will be done exploring your relevant history, relationship and reasons for seeking psychotherapy. A possible therapeutic plan will also be discussed, as necessary. After that, follow up sessions with couples are 60 minutes in duration, unless otherwise indicated or requested. The average couple process can be anything between 6 and 30 sessions. The frequency of, as well as number of, sessions will depend on your particular situation and reasons for seeking psychotherapy.
"No Secrets” Policy
While the usual Confidentiality Guidelines also apply to couples therapy, in working with couples, I strongly value and practice a “no secrets” policy within the relationship and therapy space to protect both the therapeutic alliance and the couple’s relationship security through openness and transparency. At times, partners may keep information from each other. For example, secret feelings/events that may have occurred and which endangers the relationship. They may even message me separately to share information or ask for advice. This leads to complications in the therapeutic alliance and even the efficacy of the couple’s process. For this reason, openness and honesty are recommended.
If either partner shares such secret information with me, I will encourage the information to be brought into the therapeutic space in a safe manner. I will, of course, assist partner/s in achieving this. Where possible, it is advised that correspondence with me and concerns about partners or the relationship are shared within the therapy space. Given this policy, I also endeavour to include both partners in all correspondence sent by me or my practice.
To make an appointment for couple therapy, contact my receptionist on 021 595 0097