Strategy-Based Relationship Counseling

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’ve been trying to find a relationships counselor who will teach strategies. I feel I’m not getting a fair go in my relationship and my partner calls all the shots due to my partner being angry, moody and controlling. I’ve done communication courses and attempt to communicate and negotiate using the formula that includes stating the facts, advising of my feelings, of my wants and needs, what I sense what my partner’s view is, posing solutions, asking what my partner thinks whilst using neutral and I language. He’s not interested in discussing how we can do some things together that we both like, going out together to build a community of friends (we have none locally) as everyone I meet is either a “snoot” or “not doing the things they should be doing”.
There are 2 govt subsidized relationship services that I can get to in Sydney Australia. Working full time I need to go either at lunchtime or at the end or beginning of the day so I don’t need to take too much time off work. In spite of explaining I work full time and can’t keep taking time off work one organization will book you in but say the time is to be arranged by you and the therapist so I take a day off work then find the therapist works 10 to 3pm so I have to go and wait again to repeat the process. I also feel that boundaries is an issue so tried the other organization saw a counselor and said I felt maybe that was the problem but I wanted to be taught strategies. She said I would have to leave and I explained that I would then be carrying the cost of 2 households. I went with a second counselor who said I don’t teach strategies you talk until you figure out the answer. I asked how long that took and it can be several years. As I’ve had cancer in the past and could have a recurrence I actually may not have a few years. Also according to her I “chased” my partner but had nothing to say when I said well what else do I do, we’re told communicating is the way to go, also she felt I had a problem for wanting to find some joint activities to do with my partner and also for wanting to build a community.
Are there counselors that teach strategies, go through boundaries? How does one find them? I’ll be looking at expensive private ones and can’t keep paying 1-2 sessions to sit down with someone to then find out they offer talk it through style therapies.

A: I am impressed by your resilience and the fact that you keep trying to find a way. Because of the logistical problems as well as the nature of the distress between you and your partner, I would highly recommend doing an intensive workshop together rather then try to coordinate ongoing therapy.

The Association of Imago Relationship Therapists Australia (AIRTA) is a very well-respected and recognized professional organization that has qualified therapists trained in a particularly dynamic approach for couples therapy. They also sponsor brief intense weekend workshops. I think this is your best bet so that you can put all the issues on the table in a short period of time.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Oct 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Strategy-Based Relationship Counseling. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/10/30/strategy-based-relationship-counseling/