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Are You Ready For Couples Therapy?

Whether you keep having the same fight over and over again, you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong with your relationship or you’re having a breakdown in communication, getting help from a therapist can be extremely beneficial for you and your partner.

Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy which helps couples improve their relationships and resolve conflicts. It is a powerful tool for improving communication, enhancing emotional intimacy, and strengthening the bond between partners.  But, how do you know if you are ready for couples therapy? Read on as we explore the signs which will indicate whether you are ready for couples therapy.

You are both ready to make a commitment

It may seem obvious, but the first sign you are ready for couples therapy is that you are both ready and willing to make a commitment to attend regular sessions with a couples therapist. Couples therapy requires commitment and effort from both partners, and it is essential that you are ready to put in the hard work. If you or your partner are not ready or open to make changes and put in the effort, then couples therapy may not be the best option for you. After all, the more dedicated you both are to the process, the more profoundly your relationship will grow and heal.

You know what your shared goals are

When you’re both on board for starting couples therapy, it’s time to land on your mutual shared goals for your time in session. Some of the below questions can be helpful to get started:

  • How do we want to grow as a couple?
  • Do we need to work on our conflict style?
  • Could we improve the quality or frequency of our intimacy?
  • Do we have shared goals, and what are our goals as a couple?
  • Do we need to work on listening to and validating each other?

 

You are willing to communicate openly

Communication is a crucial aspect of any relationship, and it is especially important in couples therapy. To get the most out of therapy, you must be willing to communicate openly and honestly
with your partner. This includes being open to listening to your partner’s perspective, expressing your feelings and needs, and being open to feedback yourself.

You are ready to take responsibility for your actions

Couples therapy is not about placing blame or finding fault in one another. It is about taking responsibility for your actions and working towards a better relationship. If you are ready to take responsibility for your role in the relationship and work towards positive change, then couples therapy can be very beneficial.

You are open to honest feedback

Couples therapy involves receiving feedback from your therapist and your partner. This feedback can be difficult to hear at times, but it is essential to improving your relationship. If you are open to
feedback and are able to make changes based on that feedback, then you may be ready for couples therapy.

You have realistic expectations

Finally, it is essential to have realistic expectations when it comes to couples therapy. Therapy is not a magic cure that will instantly fix all of your relationship problems. It takes time and effort to see
real change, and there may be setbacks along the way. If you have a realistic outlook and are willing to put in the work, then couples therapy can be a powerful tool for improving your relationship.

How we can help at Couples Therapy

Do you and your partner relate to the above? Do you feel like you and your partner are both ready to be open and honest with each other? If so, we are here to help you at Couples Therapy. It’s important to be on the same page with what you want to accomplish from therapy. Any fears or uncertainties about the therapeutic process should also be discussed before you attend your first
Couple’s therapy session.

Our team can work alongside you as you make the commitment to working on your relationship. Get in touch with our friendly team here to schedule an appointment.

If you would like to read more informative blogs on relationships, browse our in-depth range of topics here.

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Dr. Elizabeth Landau

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Melbourne
  • M.S. in Counselling from California State University Long Beach 
  • B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles 
  • AHPRA Registered Psychologist (PSY0002189205)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (California LMFT 119359)
  • Member of the Australian Psychological Society
  • Clinical Member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists 
  • Member of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy
  • Member of the Society of Behavioural Sleep Medicine

Dr. Elizabeth Landau

Psychologist & Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Elizabeth is passionate about emotional and relational wellbeing.  When there’s harmony and balance in our inner world and our relationships, the stuff of life can seem easier to tackle.  Using an empathic, collaborative, and holistic style, Elizabeth helps individuals and couples build long-term strategies for happiness and fulfilment.

In her work with couples, Elizabeth believes that a secure bond is what makes for healthy and resilient relationships.  She helps couples strengthen this bond through developing skills to clearly communicate needs, emotionally attune (resonate with your partner’s feelings), and trust being vulnerable with each other.  She guides couples in healing communication-style mismatches, periods of emotional disconnection, infidelity and mistrust, child rearing conflicts, separation and divorce, and step-family issues. 

In addition, Elizabeth specialises in treating individuals coping with mood and/or sleep disorders.  She helps clients develop sustainable strategies to better cope with and recover from constant worrying and anxious thoughts, feeling down, depressed, and hopeless, and periods of insomnia and hypersomnia.

She supports same- and opposite-sex couples, persons of all genders, cultures, backgrounds, faiths, and all relationship styles (including monogamous and poly relationships).  Elizabeth also regularly provides therapy for members of the LGBTQIA+ community for issues such as identity discovery, gender dysphoria, pre and post-op gender confirmation issues, stigma, and bullying and discrimination.

Elizabeth also offers counselling in Spanish (ofrece terapia en español).

Elizabeth began her training as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2011.  Across the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, Elizabeth gained extensive experience in community and hospital clinics treating individuals, couples, and families impacted by a broad range of psychological difficulties.  Since moving to Australia in 2015, she has continued to support the mental well-being of folks in the Melbourne community through her Ph.D. training, research fellowships, and clinical work in private practice.

Elizabeth has published several scientific articles in leading psychology journals, presented research findings at national and international conferences, and has held fellowship positions at the Florey Institute and Monash University conducting clinical research trials for psychological interventions to improve mental health. 

Elizabeth is also the Founder and Director of Mahina Consulting, a corporate sleep consulting firm where she provides evidence-based sleep treatment intervention to businesses across Melbourne to improve employee sleep, productivity, and profitability.

Using evidence-based therapy techniques to help her clients, Elizabeth draws from Mindfulness, which focuses on staying present to your experiences; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which enables you to identify and explore the connection between thoughts, feelings, and actions; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which helps you identify your values and commit to actions which bring forth richness and meaning to life; and Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), which explores attachment bonds and helps couples have more empathy for each other so they can build deeper connections.

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • Graduate Diploma Family and Relationship Therapy, Williams Street Centre for Family Therapy, Perth
  • Graduate Certificate of Family Therapy, The Bouverie Centre and La Trobe University, Melbourne
  • Masters Social Work, RMIT University, Melbourne
  • Postgraduate Diploma of Arts (Editing and Communications), University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Arts (English Literature, French, Political Science), University of Western Australia, Perth
  • Membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
  • Professional Membership of the Australian Association of Family Therapy (AAFT)

Finn Nugent

SOCIAL WORKER & COUPLE AND FAMILY THERAPIST

As a therapist Finn is person-centred and emotion-focused, informed by an awareness of family-systems theories, attachment theory, mindfulness, polyvagal theory and the nervous system, trauma, Internal Family Systems therapy, social justice and intersectionality.

Finn enjoys working with couples at all stages in their relationship, including those navigating communication problems, family of origin issues, sexual issues, betrayals, grief, polyamorous situations, parenting issues and blended families. She is able to work with couples seeking to separate well or to navigate co-parenting after separation. She is an LGBTQIA+ ally.

As a therapist working with a family group, Finn seeks to make space for everyone’s perspective and to create the conditions that enable you to hear each other in ways that can be difficult outside the therapy room. The focus is on the qualities and dynamics of the relationships.

As a Family Therapy trained practitioner Finn considers your relationships and your relational context when working with you as an individual. She works with people seeking personal growth and change, on issues including depression and anxiety, stress, identity, sexuality, relationship problems, navigating life-stage changes, finding purpose, grief and loss.

Finn’s approach is informed by an awareness of our physicality and our spirituality and may draw upon elements of breathwork, visualisation and symbology. Finn believes that personal change is a multifaceted process and involves the dynamic interplay of the different dimensions of our selves.

Finn is a masters-qualified Social Worker with additional qualifications in Family and Relationship Therapy. Over the last 8 years she has worked with individuals, couples and families from all walks of life as a practitioner in the corporate and private sectors and in non-government organisations across Australia.

Naeem Rana

REGISTERED COUNSELLOR

Naeem is a registered counsellor; his qualifications include a Master of Counselling and Graduate Diploma in Psychology. 

Naeem has lived in Melbourne for the past 22 years. Being a counsellor, he thoroughly enjoys learning about people. He believes that there is something special that we hold within ourselves and that’s what makes us human. This special part of us is the source of our positive development. Naeem sees his work as a journey of growth; he learns from the people he works with and engages in ongoing professional development. 

In addition to his academic achievements, Naeem has specialised training in trauma-informed practice, suicide prevention, self-harm, and couple’s counselling. His way of working is very holistic and person-centred. He supports clients in focusing and accessing core emotions to identify and process them. His work with clients helps them develop deeper meanings of their thought processes. 

Naeem is empathic, he offers acceptance without judgments, and really believes in people and their capabilities.  He finds it fulfilling when he can witness his clients’ growth.  He has help clients deepen relationship, repair relationships and has also helped some couples through the challenges of separation.

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • B.A. Hons, La Trobe University
  • Bachelor of Social Work, Melbourne University.
  • Post Grad Dip Family Therapy, Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University
  • Masters of Family Therapy (couple therapy), La Trobe University.
  • A.A.S.W. Australian Association of Social Work
  • A.A.F.T. Australian Association of Family Therapy
 

Emily McDonald

INDIVIDUAL, COUPLE AND FAMILY THERAPIST

Emily McDonald is a Family and Couple Therapist, (Clinical Social Worker) with over 25 years’ experience working across diverse sectors such as mental health, specialist child and family relationship services, family law settings and private practice.

Emily’s practice combines experience and knowledge with care and compassion. Emily provides a strong client centred approach, working collaboratively with couples to identify priorities, support wellbeing and work towards positive change. Emily believes it is important that couples gain hope, relief and a way forward right from the first session.

In her work with couples, Emily uses a flexible approach designed to attune to a couples’ unique needs. Emily offers valuable tools to reduce stress and build communication confidence and competence. Emily also offers the opportunity to connect current relationship patterns with past life experiences, assisting clients to gain new perspectives, greater insight and empathy for themselves and each other.

Emily assists a wide variety of individuals and couples that span the life cycle, from diverse cultural backgrounds and couples from LGBTIQ+ communities.

Emily has extensive experience working with individuals and couples who may be struggling with anxiety, depression, anger, past or current trauma and abuse, grief and loss, relationships difficulties across the life cycle, parenting struggles, separation and divorce and other life transitions. Emily also offers stepfamily formation and transition work; recovery from experiences of family violence/ trauma and assistance to take responsibility for harmful behaviours in relationships.

Emily has a commitment to gain regular feedback from her clients, in order to create a safe and effective therapeutic relationship. Emily uses this feedback to inform her work and is able to employ a combination of evidenced based relationship therapies, such as Emotion Focused Couples Therapy, Gottman and interpersonal neurobiological methods. Emily is also able to employ Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), systemic and narrative therapies.

Emily is an experienced senior manager, trainer and clinical supervisor and has lectured in child, parent and family therapy at Mindful, Centre for Training and Research in Developmental Health, Melbourne University and La Trobe University. 

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne School of Computing and Information Systems.
  • AHPRA registration: Psychologist.
  • Member is the Australian Psychology Society (APS).
  • Post-graduate professional course in Family and Systemic Psychotherapy, at CSTFR, Rome, Italy, Research Centre of Family and Relational Therapy.
  • Post-graduate Professional Course in Clinical Sexology, University of Pisa, Department of Medicine, Italy.
  • Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, LUMSA University, Rome, Italy.
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

Francesco Cataldo

Psychologist/Co-director

Francesco was born and raised in Italy, where he trained to become a psychotherapist. After his degree in Clinical Psychology, he completed a post graduate degree in Family Psychotherapy. He has more than 10 years of practice in working with clients experiencing a variety of mental and relational health issues.

Francesco supports his clients by empathising and creating a warm and safe environment with a non-judgemental approach. He helps clients gain insight into their relationship and emotional communication patterns, and in working around all the hidden mechanisms which prevent clients from living a more fulfilled life. He fosters his clients’ necessities and goals, tailoring his method to their needs.

Francesco is aware of the importance of healthy communication and the role emotions play in relationships. Without effective communication tools and the ability to clearly express emotions, couples and families often face a vast array of difficulties. Francesco works with couples in the areas of building trust, navigating divorce, couple and family reunification, same-sex relationship difficulties, infidelity, sexual disorders and violence. He also conducts individual sessions in the following areas: abuse, eating disorders, gender identity stress, anxiety, depression, bullying, drug and alcohol addiction, panic attacks, grief, loss and traumas.

Francesco moved to Australia few years ago to pursue a PhD in Telehealth/Digital Health at the University of Melbourne. He is currently researching the impact of technology on Videoconferencing Psychotherapy. He has been involved in academia for more than 10 years publishing also several works.

He loves to diversify his interests in a variety of mental health issues and relationship conditions in order to support his clients in every stage of their lives. Francesco has gained extensive experience in public and private sectors and helps his clients to recover from different mental and relationship issues by harmonising theoretical and clinical understanding.

Francesco supports couples facing a range of emotional and relationship issues such as communication breakdowns, sexual disorders, loss of trust, parenting styles and extended family issues.

Francesco has been intensively trained to treat individuals, couples and families. He has had the opportunity to attend The Family and Relationship Therapy Centre which is led by some of the European pioneers of the Systemic Family approach. He stays up-to-date with the ongoing European therapy methodologies, bringing science and new models to his practice.

Furthermore, Francesco has also completed a post graduate degree in Clinical Sexology.  This allows him to competently work with individuals and couples through a wide range of sexual issues.

Francesco can also deliver therapy sessions in Italian language (Francesco conduce terapie anche in lingua Italiana)

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • Bachelor of Social Work, University of Melbourne
  • Diploma in Education, University of Gdansk, Poland
  • Masters in Economics, University of Gdansk, Poland
  • Fully registered with The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
  • Fully registered as an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, (AASW 443222)
 

Marlena Ziety

Therapist, Accredited Mental Health Worker

Marlena has a warm, empathic, and non-judgmental therapy approach, which she uses to create a safe and supportive space for you heal your relationship.

She feels honoured when her clients share their sensitive and vulnerable parts of themselves as they work towards healing their relationships.

With her authentic, curious, and gentle challenging style, Marlena encourages healing, relationship repair, and growth.

Marlena finds great pleasure in working with couples. Her personal and professional journey of healing and growth has shown her how essential healthy relationships are to happiness and wellbeing.

She believes that we all get a bit stacked at times and require support. Marlena recognises that relationships are complex and can bring both joy and hurt; and that it is through relationships that we heal, grow, and live satisfying lives.

With over 20 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families, Marlena has the expertise to help you heal.

She is trained in and works with a range of evidence-based therapeutic modalities including Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-based techniques, Motivational Interviewing (MI), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Choosing approaches uniquely suited to you and your concerns, Marlena will help you solve your problems whether you are an individual or a couple. She uses whichever techniques are most likely to bring you a more rewarding relationship and a happier life.

In addition to helping individuals and couples resolve relationship issues, Marlena has worked intensively with issues of trauma; depression; anxiety; various addictive behaviours, including problematic gambling and eating disorders, grief and loss, mental health, abuse, self-esteem, stigma, and parenting difficulties.

Marlena is bilingual and provides counselling in both English and Polish. She is also a registered Medicare Provider.

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • BA (Hons), Australian National University; Literature
  • MA, University of Cologne; Literature
  • Postgrad. Dip. Appl. Psych, Monash University
  • M-Psych (Counselling), Monash University
  • M-Crim (Forensic Psychology), University of Melbourne
  • Member of the Australian Psychological Society, Endorsed Counselling Psychologist
 

Catherine Lally

Counselling Psychologist/Director

After a long and wonderfully rewarding career as a counselling psychologist and relationship therapist, Catherine is now enjoying retirement in Hobart.

Although she is not working directly with clients anymore, she continues to collaborate with Emma in running a practice that provides high quality therapy at a reasonable cost.

Catherine still treasures being part of the amazing team that makes up CTM, and she continues to support team members through peer-supervision. 

Learning about Internal Family Systems therapy, IFS, has been the highlight in the later stages of Catherine’s career.  Catherine has completed several courses helping her become an Internal Family Systems (IFS) informed therapist, including Stepping Stones and Advanced Training with Derek Scott, and Applied Internal Family Systems Therapy (Adler Graduate Professional School) and Intimacy from the Inside Out (Liz Phillips).

Therapy Credentials and Professional Memberships

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University (currently completing)
  • Masters in Clinical Psychology, Cairnmillar Institute; Melbourne
  • Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology, Monash University; Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Science (Psychology Major), Monash University; Melbourne
  • Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy, Cairnmillar Institute; Melbourne
  • Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, MWT; Melbourne
  • Member of Australian Psychological Society

Emma Cholakians

Clinical Psychologist/Director

Emma has experience in private, not for profit, and public sectors, providing both short and long-term treatment for a range of relationship and mental health problems.

Emma has worked with various types of couples helping to foster more desirable and satisfying relationships. Couples have included same and opposite-sex couples, young couples, couples who are pregnant, couples in business, etc.

In couples therapy, Emma has helped her clients with secrets that have caused damage, including secrets such as infidelity (including cybersex). She also has experience with couples stuck in conflict; those with addiction issues; couples stressed by life transitions, financial issues, parenting conflicts, lifestyle differences; and those with conflicts in the extended family.

Emma is trained in several therapies that have been shown to help couples improve their relationships. These include the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy, Schema Therapy for Couples, and Relationship Therapy Methodologies developed by the Hart Centre.

All of these couples therapy methods help you become more aware of your problems, reduce your reactions to one another, and help you resolve differences. The goal is to help you connect more deeply with one another so you can have a more rewarding and lasting relationship.

Emma is bilingual (English and Armenian).

Emma is a registered Clinical Psychologist in Melbourne with a strong interest in helping individuals and couples flourish and have more rewarding relationships.

With her passion for working with couples, Emma helps you understand each other better, recognise and enhance your strengths, resolve conflict, break free of old patterns, and communicate more effectively.

Emma uses a client-centered approach, which means her clients’ needs, desires, and goals are of utmost importance. Her counselling work focuses on providing her clients with nurturance, education, collaboration, and research-based counselling methods.

Growing up between Middle Eastern and European cultures has shown Emma the influence culture has on relationship dynamics. The family unit has such a strong influence on the connection, happiness, and development of its members.

Being the parent of a 7 year old has taught Emma the importance of continuing to foster a close and loving connection with her partner despite the distractions a young child can bring into a relationship.