This page is intentionally more conversational in tone because anyone reading the FAQs is generally serious and looking for real answers. I’ve been asked these questions many times so I know some of the answers are really important to you too.
How do I know it will work? Can Relational Empowerment coaching really fix us? Can you actually get me back in the relationship I deserve and desire?
This really is your most important question. I understand that you’re looking for reassurance and that’s exactly what I’d do too. Whilst I can’t guarantee you results I can offer you one of the best chances you’re going to find in Australia for saving your marriage. The good news is you don’t need to take my word for it, that’s what the ‘success stories’ page is for so if you haven’t seen it please take a look there. If you’ve already seen it then I’d ask you to trust that those stories and testimonials are true.
What makes your approach so effective?
There’s a dirty little secret within the world of therapy and coaching. That secret is that most therapists have no real idea or training in how to work with couples – especially ‘difficult’ ones. 90% of my work is with those couples that find themselves on the edge of disaster. Let me tell you the questions you really should be asking a potential therapist and why they are important:
1. Can you describe your background and training in relationship therapy?
Please stay with me here, this is one of the things you really must understand if you are at all interested in saving your relationship.
The reason this is such an important question is that so many people well qualified in individual therapy assume that working with couples is the same as working with two singles. Individual therapy is based on Individual Empowerment. When they get you ‘empowered’ you’ll be saying things like ‘I was weak now I’m strong, screw you I’m leaving!’. Using this model a therapist will generally applaud your decision to leave especially if you are female. This is an absolute disaster for you and your relationship.
The very best couples coaching is based on ‘relational empowerment’ or ‘family therapy.’ Pretty quickly you’ll move to a position of ‘ I was weak now I’m strong and I’m going to stand toe to toe with you until I get what I want in this relationship.’ A therapist trained in RET will assist you to get whatever you want in any relationship you are in.
2. What is your attitude toward salvaging a troubled marriage versus helping couples break up?”
My starting point is this. If you got married there was generally a really good reason for it. You had a beautiful dream together and you’ve lost sight of that dream. It’s my job to keep this in mind whilst working with you on reconnecting you both.
If you have children it is my firm belief that any ‘divorce’ you think you’re getting is largely mythical and it’s going to be hugely expensive to everyone on EVERY level. Your partner is going to be in your life forever. Even when the kids are all grown up there will be grandchildren.
The smart move is to figure out where you got stuck in so much pain and get you reconnected. That is what I do, even if you’re not sure it’s what you want right now.
3. What is your approach when one partner is seriously considering ending the marriage and the other wants to save it?
It is very common that one person is certain the relationship has become unworkable and is looking for a way out. I do not need both parties to be invested in the marriage to have this process work. I just need both parties in the room long enough to show you where you’ve disconnected and then reconnect you. The only real exception to this is where someone is getting abused in a way that is actually damaging. If you’re getting abused that needs to stop right now, but it’s not the end.
What makes Relational Empowerment Therapy different?
Most therapists are trained that taking sides is a big no, however I am trained to take a very hard line on damaging behaviour. I will confront all the hard issues you may be having a difficult time dealing with. Issues like living with a depressive, rager, untreated addictions, affairs, verbal or physical abuse and lying. These issues require a strong, well trained professional who’s willing to go out on a limb with you. If these things are causing your relationship to fail I will take a stand with you and we will sort it out. I will pursue the goal of getting you both reconnected and enjoying a relationship that works for both of you as quickly as possible.
Another significant difference is that an RET therapist does not expect you to know how to change, we tell you exactly what needs to happen, why it needs to happen and how to get it done.
Can I come to the session on my own?
Of course you can. But here’s the deal, I’m going to spend that session strategising with you about how you’re going to get your partner to attend the next time. There is an argument to be made for the whole ‘I change me, I change we!’ approach but it is much faster when I’ve had both of you in the room together at least for a little while.
How many sessions will be required?
There is no set answer for this as everyone is so different however there is a minimum requirement; you come in for the 3 hour intensive, I tell you exactly what is off and what needs to happen to correct it. You go away promising to handle it and then despite your best efforts it continues to go badly more often than you like. We then have another shorter session where I introduce you to the part of you that is making this harder than it needs to be. We move you out of your losing strategies and into the winning ones. We then continue to do that for as long as it takes. Some people manage to get that done in 3 sessions and others stick around a while longer. It really depends on where you are starting from. Once we meet you’ll understand I have a solid strategy to make sure we’ll be done just as soon as possible.
Can I talk about my problem first on the phone?
Of course you can. Let’s be honest, you’re about to make a huge investment in hope, time and money. I’m very happy to spend some time with you on the phone to ensure we’re a good match.
Can I get after-hours appointments?
I have excellent news for you. Whilst I won’t work late into the evenings I am available for weekend appointments.
Where is your practice?
My practice is based in Bondi Beach in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. There’s plenty of metered parking to be found in the area. I don’t think you’ll find a nicer place to work on your relationship. In the breaks you can head out to a cafe or even to the beach to get things back into perspective.
We’ve tried therapy before and it didn’t work.
As I explained earlier, not all couples therapies or therapists are created equal. Hopefully you now have a sense of exactly why it didn’t work so well for you last time.
Do you treat issues around infidelity?
Yes, I frequently work with issues of infidelity. Whether there are issues of trust, or if there have been physical or emotional affairs, it is never too late to seek therapy. I have a page devoted to this specifically, take a look, you can get through this. 40% of couples survive this without any professional help but there is a huge difference between surviving and full recovery.
Do you see same sex couples?
Of course. I work with couples of all genders and sexual orientation.
Do you help couples with sexual difficulties?
Oh yes I do. You’ll see I have a whole page on this topic under ‘what I offer’. In my experience there are a multitude of reasons for your ‘love’ life getting off track. For lots of couple the fact that their erotic adventures disappeared serves as a really good indicator that they’ve disconnected.
Another deeply confusing phenomenon is when you are still totally in love with each other, very intimate and yet there is a lack of any real sexual desire. Briefly put, intimacy is not always such a great bed fellow of desire. I can help you rebuild the mystery and desire you used to have. Do not allow the fact that people will tell you it’s ‘normal’ to fall out of lust mean it’s gone for good. Read more here.
Author of ‘The New Rules of Marriage’ says…
Founder of ‘The Relational Life Institute’