Relationship counselling Auckland, Marriage Counselling Auckland, Sex Therapy, Auckland

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Methods - Relationship Counselling

We now offer a range of ways you can access our knowledge and skills about relationships:

• Weekly or fortnightly therapy for couples in 90 minute sessions with an individual therapist - learn more here
• Individual therapy in 60 minute sessions focused on sexual or relationship issues
• Week-long intensive therapy with an individual therapist where you do the work of 3-6months of therapy in 5 days - learn more here
• Two-day couples workshop run by both of us. Valuable learning about relationships at a low cost - learn more here

Like many experienced psychologists, we don’t work from just one model. Below are some of the main models we use.

Passionate Marriage (a.k.a. The Crucible Approach)
Our practice, particularly our couples work, is strongly influenced by the work of American psychologists Dr David Schnarch and his partner Dr Ruth Morehouse. Most people know of his work through the book “Passionate Marriage” (although the formal name for this model is “The Crucible Approach”). We write about it here in a bit of detail as it is less well known than the other models we use.

We like this approach for all sorts of reasons but first and foremost because it sees the problems we are having in our relationships are normal and inevitable - seeing long-term relationships as “people-growing machines”. When you cut through the fairy-tale expectations that once you have sorted your problems everything will be go smoothly, you can see that conflict and distance in a relationship are often not disasters, but an incentive for us to “grow ourselves up”. That may sound strange, but it is an incredibly hopeful way to approach relationship difficulties and one which we have found hugely empowering both in our work with other couples and in our own relationship.

When we accept that we are having difficulties for good reasons, we can stop wasting energy on worrying about whether we have chosen the wrong partner or whether there is something wrong with me (or my partner) and get on and do the growing that’s needed to improve our situation.

This approach helps people confront themselves, pushing them to grow a stronger sense of who they are and what is important to them. Out of that personal growth comes the resources and courage to bring about lasting and beneficial change in the relationship.

Instead of “happily ever after”, this means loving on life’s terms – looking into the face of our fears and disappointments and acknowledging that sometimes we will not get what we want and we will get hurt and it’s still better to take the risk and love fully anyway. The alternative is to live a half life of loneliness and self-deception.

The other reason we became practitioners of this approach was because of our interest in helping people with sexual problems. The Crucible Approach provides a full integration of the marital therapy and sex therapy fields (believe it or not they have tended to be separate disciplines). This means we deal with difficulties around sex totally in the context of the relationship and see our sexual relationships as an important “window” onto the relationship as a whole.

Our Training in the Crucible Approach
Having read Passionate Marriage and used it to resolve long-term difficulties in our own relationship, we travelled to Australia in 2001 to attend one of Dr Schnarch’s three-day programmes as a couple and went on to do an introductory two-day training with him, followed by a one-day practicum.

Nic repeated the introductory workshop and attended an advanced 6-day workshop on Desire in the U.S. in 2003 with Dr Schnarch & his wife and colleague Dr Ruth Morehouse. Verity attended a similar advanced workshop in 2004.

In 2006 we hosted Dr Schnarch here in NZ as he offered his Introductory workshop (which we again attended) at the NZCCP conference.

In 2008 Nic travelled to the USA to the AAMFT conference and attended a 5-lecture series offered by Dr Schnarch & his colleague Dr Susan Regas. Nic & Verity both travelled to Los Angeles for a three day workshop with Dr Morehouse & Dr Regas on using the Crucible Approach with sexual issues.

Since completing our advanced trainings (in 2003 & 2004 respectively) we have both had regular phone consultation with Dr Morehouse and this is on-going (currently every 3 weeks) .

More about the Crucible Approach
Dr Schnarch's latest book is “Intimacy & Desire” which integrates some of the latest research on how our brains work with his approach to intimacy and selfhood. He is also the author of “Resurrecting Sex” which is a great resource on sexual difficulties. We recommend these booksand “Passionate Marriage” very highly . They can be ordered (along with a great series of CDs & DVDs) through their website which also contains more information about the approach. (Dr Schnarch also wrote a vast book called “Constructing the Sexual Crucible” to introduce his work to the professional community – unless you are really good with heavy reading, this book is best left to the professionals).

Other models we use

As New-Zealand trained psychologists, both of us have training in cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT). These models strongly underpin modern psychology’s understanding about how people work. Behavioural principles are often very important in working with children and in understanding how we get trapped in unhelpful patterns of behaviour. Cognitive therapy has a lot to offer in helping us change unhelpful beliefs and negative styles of thinking.

Family/Systems & Narrative
We have both trained and worked as family therapists, so we are always inclined to look at the wider systems involved – be they couple, family, workplace, cultural or societal. Formally this involves using models like structural and systemic family therapy, and the Crucible Approach is also a systemic therapy. This understanding is important in both our therapy work and our supervision of other professionals. Both of us also have a background in Narrative Therapy, having trained at the Leslie Centre and with Johnella Bird and David Epston at the Family Therapy Centre.



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© Nic Beets and Verity Thom 2013