Relationship Counselling

Helping Couples Build Stronger Happier Lives Together

  • Do you feel that you are growing apart or lonely?
  • Are there trust issues or infidelity issues?
  • Communication or honesty problems?
  • Frequent arguments without resolution?
  • Being critical or being criticised all the time?
  • Unhappy in your relationship but don't know why?
  • Do you feel misunderstood?
  • Do you feel you are contributing more?

How do you connect in your relationship, or connect with family or friends? Do you often find yourself in conflict? Do you feel alone or misunderstood? John Gottman suggests that we make "Bids" for love. Through Bids we ask for support from those we are close to. Bids are the way we connect with those we love. How we respond to these Bids over time leads to the relationships we have today. Through relationship counselling, I can assist you to identify how you are responding to Bids.

Gottman identified three ways in how we respond to Bids, "turning towards them, turning away from them, or turning against them." An example is turning towards your partner; when your partner states they are feeling isolated. You may respond by putting your arm around them and acknowledging their feelings. An alternative understanding of Gottman’s Bids comes from Karen Horney. Horney suggests that there are three relationship coping strategies that people use. These are; moving towards, moving away, and moving against. Horney suggests that moving towards is being compliant, moving away is distancing, and moving against is aggression or assertion.

When a person only employs one coping strategy in their relationship it may lead to dysfunctional behavior. Types of dysfunctional behavior may include, always being compliant with your partner’s wishes. Or they may include constantly being aggressive with your partner.  Horney suggests that to maintain a healthy relationship, all three relationship coping strategies must be employed at different times.  We all understand the need to be compliant with our boss at work. But being constantly compliant in your intimate relationship may lead to depression. As a relationship and couples’ counsellor I assist you to identify how you may be connecting in your relationships, and how to improve these connections.


Identify Where and When Communication Has Broken Down


During relationship counselling, my focus is on identifying where and when communication has broken down. Couples often find that their worst behaviour comes out with those that they love. They fall into endless circular arguments that begin with a minor disagreement and then rapidly escalate into abusive confrontations over the same issues with no resolution.

John Gottman suggests that it is not the argument that is the problem, but the way we argue, that leads to the break down of relationships. Arguments can stimulate relationships, solve problems, and air differences. When you are arguing, be respectful of your partner’s feelings, values and beliefs and opinions. Gottman suggests that if an argument starts badly, by either being critical, name calling or eye rolling, then the argument will end badly. Regular bad endings will eventually lead to a couple separating physically and emotionally from each other.

Let's break through the argument cycle to a happier life.

Christopher Swane has been a relationship counsellor and psychotherapist for over 6 years in Sydney and Europe before moving to Wellington New Zealand. Christopher Swane developed a multi-disciplinary practice with other health professionals in Europe. During relationship counselling, I assist couples to identify the style of argument that they are engaged in. I discuss the different roles that they may be taking on, and how to change or manage them in a healthier constructive way.

As a relationship counsellor Christopher Swane assists clients to examine and recognise their different needs, how to get them met, and how to respond to their partner's needs in a non-aggressive manner.

Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand