Help & Support

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy in Plymouth, Devon

Is your relationship in difficulty? Couples therapy is a service to support and strengthen your relationship. It may help clarify your feelings for one another, identify the difficulties between you, and understand much better why these difficulties keep occurring. When you have a clearer understanding and you are each equally supported and encouraged to make, this can help you decide how to proceed. The emphasis is on the wellbeing of the relationship rather than you as an individual, so it may be necessary to attend individual psychotherapy (usually with a different practitioner) alongside couples work, if your individual issues are having a significant impact on the relationship.

Couples therapy is an intense experience that involves work and commitment, and you are invited to attend if and when you both feel ready to invest in your relationship.

If you wish to strengthen your relationship and improve your communication skills with each other, couples work is recommended sooner rather than later. We can address any difficulties that have set in and establish positive and constructive agreements between you. This work will involve homework assignments for you to complete between sessions, such as practising new communication skills with one another, listening to each other more effectively, or spending time together in certain activities.

If one or both of you are unsure whether you wish to continue in the relationship, or if one of you does not want to attend therapy, then therapy cannot change this!

It may become clear in the course of the therapy whether or not your relationship has a future, and what you need to do to achieve your relationship goals. It can be challenging to face the truth of what your relationship has become, but if you both have a strong and equal commitment to make this work, a lot can be achieved.

Couples therapy is also available if you have decided to end your relationship and you need support to conduct the process of separation and making arrangements, for example for childcare. Mediation may then be effective once the emotional issues have been clarified, and you have agreed to some joint rules for how you will deal with stressful topics.

What to expect in couples therapy

Joint sessions can be held face to face or online. The first sessions are often a process of identifying what the real problems are, before they can be addressed. The first session is an hour and a half, and subsequent sessions are one hour and fifteen minutes. The length and frequency of the couples therapy cannot be determined until we have agreed what you want from it, and how this might be achieved.

Couples therapy is sometimes less frequent than individual therapy to allow you time to apply the therapy in practice. Often, we may begin by looking at the type and quality of your communication and interactions and how you can make immediate changes that can help stabilise your day-to-day experience of being together. You are asked to undertake “homework” and report back on how it went, so that the three of us are all working together constructively towards the same desired outcomes.

Being in the room (or online) together with the therapist can quickly have an impact on your relationship, as you will start to see your interactions in a new way. The therapist does not judge or take sides, and offers a neutral, safe space for you to begin to make sense of what has been happening. The therapist will be looking for the strengths in your relationship as well as the problems that need attention.

Couples therapy is helpful for

  • Establishing healthy communication and couple behaviours

  • Ending negative behaviours and destructive communication patterns

  • Getting clear about repeating conflicts, and learning how to handle them constructively

  • Learning new ways to understand, value and relate to your partner

  • Establishing equality and fairness

  • Establishing what is “you” and what is your partner: how projection plays out in your relationship, and how each of you is a mirror for the other.

  • Reaching a shared understanding of how you want to work together over childcare issues

  • Recovering from and coping with significant negative events, loss or change or difficult family situations that have impacted your relationship

  • Learning how to stay in adult mode when you are together, rather than regressing to child forms of communication such as sulking or withdrawing

  • Resolving stuckness and repeating patterns that feel unproductive

  • Establishing ground rules, agreements and boundaries about important topics

  • Learning how to disagree or have difficult conversations in a way that is fair to both of you

  • Education about the phases of couple development, and where you may have got stuck

  • Understanding how your family history affects your expectations and behaviour in your relationship, and what you can change

  • Understanding how your individual attachment styles are interacting, and the pressures this puts on your relationship, thus learning to understand one another better

  • Creating a workable balance between independence and autonomy, and intimacy, closeness and mutual interdependence

  • Learning to have kind and constructive conversations about money, sex, power and control, childcare, differences in opinion, and lifestyle preferences

How does it work?

Normally I will have a brief phone conversation with one or both of you, to establish whether it would be fruitful for the three of us to meet, and what the focus and intentions of the work are to be.

In our first session, we will explore the issues that bring you here and make a plan for the initial phases of our work together. We need to establish why we are here, what we are going to focus on, and what would be a good outcome for the work that we can all agree on.

Each session will involve an in-depth three-way conversation where each of you is respected equally and without judgement.

Frequency of sessions

The frequency of couples work can be variable, depending on the goals and intentions of the work. You will be given assignments to put into practice, and usually a gap of two weeks between sessions allows enough time, but not too much. I may also see each of you individually for just a few sessions.

Online or face to face couples work?

Couples work is conducted effectively online using a secure video link. If possible, I ask you to each work from a separate terminal or device, in a different room, so that we can all see each other.

When face to face work is possible and appropriate, sessions are offered in Plymouth, in a comfortable private consulting room in a convenient location, not far from the city centre.

Fees for Couples Therapy

Fees for each session (75 minutes) are £85, payable in advance of each session by bank transfer, by credit card or Paypal, here or in person. Blocks of sessions can be booked in advance. (Please contact me first before making any payment).

Terms and Conditions for couples work

Attending couples work requires a commitment from both parties to participate fully in the work. It does not work if one of you is half-hearted. If it becomes clear that one of you does not wish to participate, individual work will be offered instead. Individual sessions are £65.00

If you miss a session that you have booked, for any reason, the full fee is due, as I have set this time aside for you. If this was accidental, I will offer you a replacement session as soon as possible.

If you need to cancel and/or re-arrange a session, I require five days notice or the full fee is due.

If you wish to take planned breaks, please inform me well in advance so we can build this in to our joint schedule.

Your work is strictly confidential.  I also ask you not to discuss with anyone else the work that your partner is doing in couples therapy. If you attend any individual sessions with me, then we need to discuss the confidentiality of your individual work.

If you miss a session that you have booked, for any reason, the full fee is due, as I have set this time aside for you.  If this was accidental, I will offer you a replacement session as soon as possible.

If you need to cancel and/or  re-arrange a session, I  require five days notice or the full fee is due.

If you wish to take planned breaks, please inform me well in advance so we can build this in to our joint schedule and you do not need to pay.

When you want to end therapy, it is important we discuss this together so we can co-create an appropriate ending that is respectful of your significant work and the depth of the therapy. Many people find endings difficult  – both in therapy and in life – and it can be enlightening to discuss ending as a facet of our work together.

Strong feelings may come up, and this is normal and not a reason for concern. However it is important that you share and discuss them, and you do not struggle with them on your own.

Therapy takes place within the sessions, and there is not normally any additional communication outside sessions, in order to preserve the special therapeutic boundary. Communication between sessions is only for administration, unless we have established a specific arrangement. Please use my private email address to discuss session times etc.


How to get the most out of your sessions

If you would like the best value from your sessions, it really helps to do your “homework” between sessions, and apply what you have learned in therapy in your own real life situations. I recommend that you keep a therapy journal, and I have created a guided format for this, or just use a blank notebook.

I designed this unique journal format based on my experience of supporting clients to move through their therapy more easily. I have found that clients who follow this detailed, structured approach to journalling around their sessions move through their therapy faster, and are able to make changes with less struggle.

This type of journalling helps you clarify your own mind and help you engage with the therapeutic process more easily as it helps you be “on the same page” as your therapist. You can use it while you are attending psychotherapy, counselling or coaching with any practitioner.

You can also read more about journalling alongside your therapy in these blogposts

Online & In-Person Support

I offer both Online and In-Person sessions, you can receive the help you need from anywhere in the world.