Psychotherapy Benefits

What are the benefits of psychotherapy? There are many. Perhaps the most fundamental and important is the experience of having someone else’s full attention for an hour. When last did you have this privilege?

In our sessions my full focus is on you and what is causing you pain. Sometimes the pain is mild, sometimes it is severe and can feel intolerable.

You have probably tried to manage your situation on your own for a long time. Perhaps you have tried to be more positive, maybe embraced new pursuits like meditation, exercise or a healthier lifestyle. Yet the difficulties do not seem to lessen.

This is because whatever pain you are experiencing in the present usually has a complex story. Our feelings are not simple. When we feel sad, mad or bad there can be multiple causes for this and the road forward can seem quite unclear.

In the early part of our work we form a relationship where you can feel safe. Then we start to explore what needs to change in order for you to feel better. Everyone who walks through my door wants to feel happier, it is really quite simple.

We talk in the sessions and then there is the work that you do between sessions. These could be structured tasks or perhaps insights to mull over until I see you next.

I have been doing this work for a long time and I firmly believe that change is possible for everyone. It may take some effort but I will be there for you every step of the way. This is your process and your journey. My only goal is to see you come out of the darkness and into the light, in what ever shape or form that may take.

Family Therapy

In the first family therapy session I take my time to connect with all the family members. I will go around and ask each person to introduce themselves and share their perspective on how come the family has come to see me. I will often say ‘I would like everyone to introduce themselves and tell me why they think the family is here today’

I then wait to see who starts off, this is valuable information in terms of who the leaders in the family are. During family therapy sessions I will notice if people interrupt each other, I will notice what happens when the children talk, I will notice how the couple communicate with one another. So in the first 15 minutes I already have some valuable information about how the family system operates.

We then go onto exploring the issues that have been raised. Sometimes different family members will give quite different versions of how they see the problem, sometimes what is reported is very similar. Time is spent talking with the family, listening, observing and sharing comments or insights as they arise. I take a break towards the end of the session to gather my thoughts. I will go to another room to think and jot down some quick notes. This also gives the family a break and an opportunity to relax for a while. Coming as a family can feel very daunting.

I then wrap up the session and give them a take home message. Depending on the size of the family, there may be several take home messages. There after we may decide to meet again as a family or I may want to meet with the parents alone at the next session if couples therapy is indicated.

The first family I ever saw, as a new therapist, was a family of 10, the mum and nine adult children. I provided family therapy for a year, as the issues were very serious. At the end of this time they were able to come together with love and a sense of acceptance about what had passed.

Couples Counselling

Zetland Psychotherapy offers several different types of Couples Counselling:

Preparation For Marriage

Getting married is the easy part, staying married is more difficult. Building a successful marriage takes time and starts before the wedding. Thereafter it requires ongoing attention and commitment.

Zetland Psychotherapy offers a Marriage Preparation Program. The aim of this program is to explore areas of strength and vulnerability in your relationship. It is designed around 12 themes that commonly come up when dealing with relationship problems.

At the start of the first session you both fill out a questionnaire where you are asked to rate the different areas of your relationship. This information is then shared and guides us as to what issues need attention. After the first session you will each take home a detailed information booklet outlining the 12 areas mentioned above.

Sessions are tailored to individual needs. This process takes between three to six sessions. What you will walk away with is an increased sense of empowerment around the skills of:

  • effective communication
  • openly sharing thoughts and feelings
  • conflict resolution

The more you are able to understand the dynamics of your relationship, the more open you will be to embracing acceptance in relation to your partner. Acceptance of what is, and the willingness to work on what needs to be different, forms one of the corner stones of a successful relationship.

Relationship Difficulties

This can refer to literally anything that is making you unhappy in your relationship. Sometimes issues can be very serious and we look at core themes that continue, over time, to cause unhappiness and tension.

On the other hand your relationship may in fact be quite healthy and happy, but there are a couple of areas of stress. Good relationships can hit obstacles and coming for counselling at this point can help to resolve the difficulties there and then, before they start to brew and become more entrenched.

If more couples went for counselling, before things reached the serious stage, less marriages would end up in divorce.

Same Sex Relationships

There is not a lot to say here as same sex relationships experience the same problems that heterosexual relationships do. I have seen many same sex couples for counselling and I do not do anything differently.

I have had several single homosexual clients and have taken the opportunity to learn from them. I have in fact asked ‘are your relationships different?’ The responses have been varied. Some say no, some say a little and some say, yes they are very different.

One client said that if you are mixing in the club/party drug community, then the rate of infidelity is higher. Another client mentioned that long term relationships are pretty similar, with possibly a slightly higher degree of relationship breakdown.

Zetland Psychotherapy is located in an area of Sydney where there is a large homosexual community. Everywhere you go you see same sex couples and to me they look like everyone else. They do their grocery shopping, go to the local pubs and most likely have the same ups and downs as everyone else.

If you are experiencing issues in your relationships, even if you are engaged in risky sexual behaviour and are becoming concerned, you will be received with acceptance and a non-judgemental attitude. My role is to assist you work out how best to deal with your situation and your concerns.

Contemplating Separation

Maybe things are starting to become just too hard. Perhaps the ratio of bad to good days, months or years is becoming too negatively weighted. Maybe the levels of tension and conflict in the house are becoming unbearable and the children are being affected.

Perhaps you have already been to several relationship therapists and nothing seems to have worked. Maybe it feels like the end. There is a time in every relationship to think about if the situation is really viable. It takes a lot of work to keep a long term relationship happy and stable. It takes even more effort to try to rescue a relationship that feels bad.

So, maybe a separation is a good option. Maybe this will be temporary, maybe it will be permanent. Either way, separating can be done in a manner that minimises pain for both of you and your children, if you have any.

I once heard someone say “better a good separation than a bad marriage”. By law married couples can only get divorced after being separate for a year. This, is a way of ensuring that couples have the opportunity to do everything that they can to try to restore the relationship. But if you cannot, I am able to assist you with your separation and talk through the best way to go about this.

This can sometimes be about practicalities or discussing arrangements for the children. Doing it this way is a lot cheaper and more user friendly than going to lawyers.

Psychotherapy Treatments

How we work

Generally people are referred to me by general practitioners, word of mouth or from my website. The easiest way to contact me is to call my mobile. After a brief chat we decide what kind of approach is best and an appointment is made. Prior to seeing me it will be necessary, if applicable, to see your GP to get a mental health care plan so that you can benefit from the Medicare subsidy.

In the case of a crisis it would be possible to have a telephone session at a mutually agreed upon time. This would then be followed up with a face to face session.

Based upon our initial conversation we will then decide if I will be seeing you as an individual, with your partner or with your whole family.

Early evening sessions are available as well as sessions on a Saturday morning.

Individual Therapy

You will come along on your own if the difficulty you are struggling with is essentially an individual one. Your issues may well cause concern to your loved ones but this would still be individual work. Sometimes you may not be sure exactly what is wrong? It could be several things that are upsetting you. Or, you are just finding yourself feeling irritable and tearful and do not know why? Whatever the feelings and the circumstances, at your first session you will be able to talk freely and we can jointly assess what the different areas of concern are.

At this very early stage it is more important for you to give expression to your feelings and your difficulties rather than to look for solutions. Like any new relationship, we will still be getting to know each other and it is very important for you to feel safe and comfortable. However, right from the first session, I ensure that you walk away with a ‘take home’ message that you will be able to think about until our next meeting. My message is concise and summarises what you have told me and how I have interpreted this.

Sometimes people only need six to ten sessions. Others may need six months, a year or longer. Each person is unique and the treatment will be tailored accordingly.

Couple Therapy

If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship with your partner then most likely I will want to see you together. Often, with couple therapy, one party makes the call and is very motivated. They then have to ‘drag’ along the more resistant partner who perhaps is not motivated to address the issues in the relationship.

This scenario is very common. In every relationship there is generally one person who does more of the relationship care taking. Often there is one who is more giving and may well be the one to call me. If you are the giving one in your relationship you may feel that you are being taken for granted and are feeling unappreciated.

Sometimes with couples I will do individual sessions if I feel this would be helpful. Sometimes this is with both parties, sometimes just with one. There will only be a couple of individual sessions when I am working with a couple. What is most beneficial is when both of you are in the room and we can address the issues directly.

Couple therapy is generally shorter than individual therapy. It is important for a couple to feel some positive shifts fairly early on so that they do not become despondent. This is also very necessary as day to day living at home may be quite difficult by the time they come to sit down in my office.

A cornerstone of couple therapy, on the part of the therapist, is neutrality. My client is your relationship. While I may give one of you more attention at different times in the process, it is the relationship between you that is my concern.

Family Therapy

If you are finding that the environment at home is unhappy then maybe it is necessary for the whole family to come along. Sometimes this can include extended family members, for example, a grandparent. If I get a call from a parent saying they are having significant problems with a particular child, I may well suggest that the whole family come along. I then see you in a different room that is comfortable and can accommodate several people. If there are little children, there will be some toys available.

I want to ensure that everyone is at ease so that we can focus on the important issues. I may see you as a family for one or two sessions and then decide it would be best to see the parents separately and maybe the teenager, as is often the case, separately too. Family sessions are longer than individual or couple sessions and there is time for breaks.

The family is a system and when there is a problem in one part of the system, the whole system is affected. Things can get so complicated and difficult that it can take a little time to unravel what is causing what? If parents are fighting, if a child is seriously ill, if a child has a disability, if there has been job loss, if there is an addiction issue, the whole family is affected.

Family therapy is highly skilled work. I was most fortunate to have received excellent training in this area. At my first clinical job in South Africa I was part of a family therapy team. The team would watch the process from another room through a one way mirror. We could call in on a special phone if we had suggestions for the therapist. Three quarters of the way though the session, the therapist would take a break from the family and come to the other room for discussion. We would all contribute our thoughts about what was happening and the message that was given to the family was a composite from the whole team. This was a very sophisticated way of working and a rich learning experience for me.