Family Therapy Wellington

What is a family?

The definition of family has changed significantly over the years. For my grandparents, extended family lived together, with grandparents helping to raise their grandchildren. For my parents, there was the nuclear family. Now, family can mean many things and in New Zealand includes whānau. Family can be couples without children, families can be same sex couples (with or without children), families can be those who choose to join together outside of traditional concepts (such as those in polyamorous relationships) – there are many possibilities. However you define your family, we are here in Wellington to help when times get tough.

What is therapy?

Therapy or counselling involves helping people with personal mental health issues and interpersonal (relationship) issues. Some counselling follows very strict outlines, assuming the therapist is the “expert” in counsellling. Other modalities, such as Narrative Therapy, assume the clients are the experts in their own lives. This shift can be dramatic, changing not only the dynamics with the therapist or counsellor and clients, but also (some might argue) more empowers the families being counselled to work through their own issues – both within therapy and in future experiences outside of the therapeutic environment. So, the definitions and practices of therapy can be very broad and have significant impact on the results of counselling.

Why Wellington?

If you are local to Wellington, you know why we chose this beautiful city for our services. If you are wondering if you want local counselling in Wellington, we are here for your family. If you find yourself unable to make it to the city, ask how we might be able to help you online.

Why Narratives Aotearoa?

Narratives Aotearoa Ltd has been established to help your family, including by emphasising a counselling and therapy approach that was developed right here in New Zealand and Australia – Narrative Therapy. The Australian and Kiwi therapists who started Narrative Therapy were working with families and realised that they could develop new ways to help their clients. We extend that tradition of service to families by offering Narrative Therapy to whānau in Wellington.

If you are looking for family therapy in Wellington, contact us to see how we can help!

Couples Counselling and Personal Agency

Personal Agency

People come to therapy for a number of reasons. Regardless of the stated reason, one of the commonalities often seen is a perceived loss of agency. What does this mean? Some people believe themselves unable to make their own choices and believe that their lives are the results of choices and actions of others. Of course, there are times when others give us little choice in a given instance – that is not the topic here. There are a number of areas in which this perceived loss of agency shows itself, but a common one is in the context of amorous relationships.

Agency Within Couples Relationships

How is this loss of agency seen? If you find yourself talking consistently about things being done “to” you, you might have ceded your agency. An example might be when a person reviews their relationships and repeatedly says that “he [or she] did this to me” when discussing every major amorous relationship of their life. As a therapist, the question often arises – “But what did you do?” Therapy is ALWAYS about the person in the room – the person in therapy, not others – so the therapist attempts to bring the conversation to the choices, actions and beliefs of the client sitting in the room. Of course, people do things that can cause us incredible difficulty, but if you review the relationships of your life and this is all you see, it might be worth considering whether you are attracted to a sort of person to whom you are able to give your own power.

Lack of Choice

There are times when all of us experience limited choices. This can be difficult to accept, but sometimes we have to work with what life has given us. Other times, we have choices, but must be willing to make them. Even choosing to not make a choice (or giving that power to another) is itself a choice. Understanding your power helps you know when you actually don’t have a choice, or if you are avoiding making choices yourself out of fear.

Understanding Choice

The Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Sometimes choices are about practical events and sometimes choices are about our responses to events.

Regaining Your Agency

How do you regain your sense of power over your choices? Sometimes this involves negotiated changes to the relationship. Sometimes this involves consideration of the beliefs and fears that power your interpersonal dynamics and choices. Sometimes this involves taking time to learn more about yourself, before you become involved in new relationships. There is not a single answer to this question, but the first thing in bringing change is realising that whether you give up your power intentionally or not, you have still given up the power over your own life choices (speaking of adults in relationships here).

Couples Counselling Wellington and Online

If you are struggling with agency within your relationships, or you would like to consider your approaches to relating before getting into a new relationship, contact us to book a counselling session.

Online Couples Counselling Services

Why Online Couples Therapy Services

Some couples live in remote areas and cannot find a therapist locally. Some couples live in small communities where they do not feel comfortable meeting with the local therapist. Some couples would feel more emotionally secure and available from the comfort of their own home. The reasons for online therapy are varied and our services include couples therapy for those outside of Wellington.

Online Couples Counselling Services

Our online counselling services for couples are available for those outside of Wellington, New Zealand. Online sessions are with Lee Jordan (the director of Narratives Aotearoa) and are structured around Narrative Therapy practice (a therapeutic modality developed within family and couples work).

Couples Counselling Considerations

We offer online services to couples, but for those who want counselling where three or more people will be counselled, we recommend in-person therapy. The dynamics of online therapy can make it difficult for all persons to feel heard, as more clients are included in a session. We also recommend both people in the couple are meeting from the same location, as three separate locations introduce technological challenges (lag in video, for example) that can make progress through the session more complex.

Online Couples Counselling Hours

We offer online couples therapy outside of our standard hours, most evenings from 6PM, New Zealand Time (see current time here) and on Saturdays (also New Zealand time). All online couples therapy is initially scheduled for 90 minutes, starting on the hour.

Online Couples Counselling Software

We are able to meet with Skype, Zoom or Signal and will provide our contact details with your first session payment receipt.

Couples Counselling Wellington

If you are in Wellington (NZ) and want couples counselling, we recommend in-person sessions. For ongoing clients, there is the possibility of online couples counselling for those local to Wellington. This can be discussed after your initial session.

Couples Counselling Wellington

There are different times and contexts in which couples may seek therapy. Some involve counselling at the beginning or changing stages of the relationship and some are to deal with chronic (long-term) or traumatic issues that may develop between those in an enduring relationship.

Pre-Marriage Counselling

If I had to suggest counselling for any major stage of life, pre-marriage counselling would be very high on the list! Why? When two people from differing backgrounds begin a life together, there are a lot of assumptions that each brings into the relationship. Some assume they will have children. Some assume they will not. Some have professional goals that involve amassing personal wealth, while others prefer a more Spartan life in which service to others is a central life purpose. We all have gaps (sometimes very large ones) in our understanding of others and love can blind us to things we might need to consider before starting a life with someone. A pre-marriage therapist – I use “pre-marriage” as this is a common term, but the relationship may not involve marriage – will help you understand your life goals, assumptions and ambitions and help you to consider how much these might be in alignment with the person you want to marry. This can be one of the most valuable things you consider in planning to get married.

Couples Counselling When Expecting a Child

This therapy can be for those who are waiting for the birth of their own child, those who are going through medical procedures to help with the birth, those who adopt a child or any other situation in which a new life is about to join the couple in a family relationship. Having a child can cause us to reflect on our own childhoods – both the good and the bad. Having someone to discuss these things with can help ease the transition to parenting. There are also expectations each parent has for the other and expressing these openly in a safe environment can help to create a nurturing environment for the expected child.

Couples Counselling for Trauma

Trauma can include may causes, but if a couple is able to talk through their difficulties together – and learn coping strategies for when times are tough – this can help both recover from the traumatic experiences.

Couples Sex Therapy

There are many sorts of compatibility between two people and sex can be a very significant consideration. Some people want to have it a lot and want to explore. Others may want to focus on emotions and familiarity. Seeking counselling when you are struggling in this area can require a bit of bravery, but help to strength the relationship of couples.

Couples Grief Counselling

Just as we might need counselling individually when someone we love dies, if the death deeply affects both people in the relationship, couples counselling can allow both people to share their grief openly. This can help the couple to grow stronger through difficulty, rather than drift apart – or look for understanding or companionship outside of the relationship which might weaken the couple’s bond.

Couples Counselling for Changing Life Stages

Children leaving home, long-term illness, retirement, one or both people moving to a nursing home – having someone to facilitate these conversations can help couples adjust to the changes that are ahead.

Couples Counselling Wellington

If you are a couple in Wellington who might be experiencing difficulty or want to strengthen your relationship, contact us to see how we can help.

Wellington Family Counselling

Working with families can follow a different path to individual counselling sessions. If you are looking for a counsellor in Wellington (or online or by phone), some things to consider might be:

Counselling Session Length

Therapy sessions can be longer for family or other group work, as there needs to be time for all people to share. While 50 minutes to an hour is a norm for individual therapeutic work, couples and larger families can need an hour and a half or two hours. Two hours would be the maximum advisable, as fatigue can become a problem and distract from therapy.

Counselling Family and Couples Individually

While it is common to have all or most family members present, there are sometimes reasons to see individual members separately. Why? This can differ from one situation to the next, but sometimes the therapist will want to see (for example) a husband and a wife separately for a session in order to help with processing of strong emotion. After this, the couple will again come to therapy together.

Counselling Confidentiality

While clients have a right to confidentially, subject to normal practice for therapists (e.g. having their own counselling supervision sessions, where they see a senior therapist themselves), family therapy adds some complexity to confidentiality. When I begin counselling couples, for example, I will begin by noting that while their session is confidential externally, there is no confidentiality between the therapist and either partner. This is both logical and practical. If the therapist assists one partner in keeping a secret from the other, this “aligns” the therapist with one partner over the other. It can also make the therapist avoid needed conversations. The therapist should never be a party to keeping a secret from one partner in couples and family work. The clients need to understand that what they say is private from the outside world, but not within the sessions. So, if one person attempts to whisper something to the therapist, this is not communication protected from the other client involved in the family counselling session.

Differing Counselling Therapy Approaches

Some approaches lend themselves to groups, couples and families. Concepts of family scripts – where it is conceptualised that people follow scripts developed with significant others in past relationships – can bring insight and assistance in some therapy. Sometimes Narrative Therapy can be the preferred counselling modality, as it attempts to look at family stories. What is ultimately used depends on the circumstances, including the therapist’s preferred and competent modalities.

Wellington Family Counselling

The list above is not exhaustive, but should give a glimpse into some of the additional considerations for those seeking family and couples counselling. Find the best therapist for you and your family in Wellington by looking into what therapy involves. Resources are being created on this site to help you do just that – to be informed.