Category: Couples Therapy

How to Write Letters to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

How to Write Letters to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

Reciprocal Letter Writing to Learn Calm Corrective Conversation

Often we get stuck in triggered and heightened communication conflicts and experience the same frustrating and often hurtful interactions that don’t seem to have any resolution. 

You may feel you cannot get through to the other person.  You or someone else gets so angry, upset, overwhelmed or shut down that hearing what the other is saying is not working.  That’s because we all ‘hear and see’ through our own filters or lens. 

These lenses are often set in childhood or past painful relationships. Sometimes it is the way our family communicated, and because the other person learned different ways to communicate from their experiences and wounds, it’s like you are not tuned into the same frequency – like a radio station, the signal sent out needs to be received by a receiver that can tune in. 

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What Kind Of Relationship Am I In - Healthy Relationships

What Kind Of Relationship Am I In – Is It Healthy?

If you think about your relationship as a medical metaphor, which one best fits?

Sometimes when my clients are stuck and indecisive about their relationship, whether that is an intimate one, family member, friendship or even a business relationship, I ask a fairly confronting question that encourages them to think outside of the square.  So here it is:

If you think about your relationship as a medical metaphor, which of these is the best fit?:


Is wound dressing required? – there is some muck to cleanse and some scarring may still remain, but with good wound management there is a strong chance it will heal well. OR


Surgery is required and you won’t survive without it. Some parts need to be cut away, others added, stitching up needs to be careful and recovery may take a while and will need to be managed carefully. It is worth doing the surgery but it may not have the outcome desired but is it worth the risk. OR


Palliative Care is required. Good care and a planned end with as minimum pain and collateral damage is what is needed, with the best outcome being ‘clean pain’ where there is nothing more to do, forgiveness or the ability to let go can occur and what needs to be said and done happens, operating out of the best of yourself. Remorse, guilt, blame, bitterness and unforgiveness can be worked through even though it is the end, but you want to choose a good end. Conversely, dirty pain isn’t really palliative, it becomes the ‘living dead’ and this is where we hang onto all the toxic stuff and it can slowly consume us.

Although a rather jolting metaphor, it really can put things into perspective.  If you sense any unease in examining this concept, I encourage you to make a booking with counsellor Sara Martin, at to unpack what thoughts and feelings arise.

Will My Relationship Survive

Will My Relationship Survive?

If you are asking yourself, “Will my relationship survive?”, it is well worth reading these relationship questions.

Relationships can be the growth engine that prevents us from stagnating and becoming stodgy or stuck. Often we see conflict or doubts as signposts that we might not be in the right relationship or can stick it out.  

I often say to clients that conflict and deeply exploring concerns or even being triggered or feeling so passionate about something that it hurts is NOT necessarily a bad thing.  

It could be a catalyst for growth and your relationship is getting in your face holding up a big mirror to the things you need to face in order to be happy.  And it’s not about whether you have conflict or concerns, it is whether you deal with that constructively and proactively and whether you can do repair well that matters. 


Here are some relationship questions to ask yourself if you feel like you can’t last the distance: 

  • Is it possible that I may be part of the problem and this relationship is holding up a mirror to things I don’t want to see?
  • Is it easier to project my issues on my partner than face the challenge of change? 
  • Could things become good again if I tolerate the pain of growth and work through these things? 
  • With challenge and growth can we become a better version of ourselves together – are we in fact a perfect partnership to challenge each other? (it’s just hard sometimes). 
  • If I don’t rise to the invitation to change within this relationship, am I at risk of transmitting the same issues to the next relationship because I can’t escape my shadow? 
  • Is part of the problem the season of life and I could feel different in seasons to come?  
  • Should I stick it out like in generations before where ‘no fault divorce’ didn’t offer an out, and many ‘golden oldies’ pushed through and are happy in their later years? Am I cutting my losses too early? 
  • Are there any parts of ‘Us’ that are worth keeping?


  • Could this feeling of ‘nothing left’ be an inner signpost that you have reached the end of the road and it really is time to move on?
    Maybe you are capable of change and growth but your partner is not and you’ve grown as much as you can and staying is causing stagnation. Could it be that what is happening to me is toxic and others are seeing that but I can’t because I’ve started to believe and internalise the negativity and am not the person I used to be or want to be?
    The question may then be “How do I extract with integrity, safety and as little collateral damage as possible?” 


Some of these questions and the related issues are painful and complex.

You may be able to explore these yourself or it may be safer and more productive to be scaffolded and reassured during this self-examination.  If that is the case, don’t hesitate to contact Brisbane-based counsellor, Sara Martin, at

Things to Consider BEFORE Leaving a Relationship

Things to Consider BEFORE Leaving a Relationship

For anyone thinking about leaving a relationship, whether that be an intimate partner relationship, friendship, family or perhaps even professional, you owe it to yourself to look a little deeper before making a decision. 


Here are some quick self-check-in questions:

If I leave, what am I going to?  

What things do I hope to gain? 

What in me will change?

Why will it be better?  

What do I want for my life now? 

Who am I outside of this relationship? 

If I can be someone else outside of the relationship, why can’t I be that person in this relationship – what is holding me back from being fully in my identity?

Am I holding myself back or am I being held back? 


If you would like to more objectively explore these questions and the related issues they may raise, discuss them with a close confident who tells you the truth or explore them in therapy.  To book an appointment with Brisbane-based holistic counsellor, Sara Martin, email with your enquiry.

Post Relationship Breakup Questions

Post Relationship Breakup Questions (To Help You Move On)

Here are some reflective questions to assist with moving on without bitterness and wounding from a relationship break-up: 

  • Do I have all of my heart back or have I left some parts behind? What parts do I need to re-claim?
  • Can I encourage my heart to love again?
  • Can I forgive?
  • Can I choose which conversations I will participate in? (to others and in my head and do these conversations empower me or drag me back?)
  • Do I determine how much respect is in my communication and relationships (operating out of the best of myself, holding myself and others to account)
  • What boundaries can I set?
  • Does my YES mean YES, and my NO mean NO (or am I flagging that I can be manipulated or malleable)?
  • Do I decide where I spend my time, talent, energy and resources? (intentionality)
  • Do I know how to keep my love, joy and peace on at all times? (spiritual integration)
  • Am I good at identifying the feelings and needs that I have (Honest self-reflection and facing my truth)
  • Am I good at valuing those feelings and needs? (identification is first, then prioritising)
  • Am I good at communicating those feelings and needs? (letting others know and not expecting mind reading or letting others get away with not respecting your feelings and needs)
  • Do the people I choose to be in a relationship with know how to do the same? (iron sharpens iron)
  • Do they value me?
  • Do they value themselves?
  • Do they control themselves?
  • Have they forgiven those they need to?

(Based on questions posed in the Relationship Breakup Mediations on “Soul Time” App by Danny Silk)

Gottman Couples Counselling

16 Ultimate Gottman Couples Counselling Concepts

When couples decide to embark on couples counselling, they often hear about a method of counselling called Gottman Couples Counselling. 

Dr. John and Julie Gottman are world-renowned for their work on marriage stability and divorce prediction based on forty years of research with thousands of couples. John is the author or co-author of over 200 published academic articles and more than 40 books. 

His focus is a scientifically based research approach and aims to assist couples to improve communication and increase their level of understanding, empathy, connectedness, intimacy and interpersonal growth by identifying and addressing the defences that prevent effective communication.  Observation and analysis of couple conflict is a key intervention to disarm conflicting verbal communication.  

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couples therapy

Top 20 Couples Therapy Questions To Explore

Couples therapy questions based on the work of Esther Perel.

I recently did a professional development run by Esther Perel,  a world-respected Couples therapist, based on her podcast “So where should we begin”. During this training, I collated a number of very interesting questions that came up in her sessions that are helpful to examine your relationship.

If you are a couple who can explore difficult questions and do conflict well, you may be able to have some therapeutic conversations with each other unguided. However, these questions may seem quite stark without any ‘therapeutic scaffolding’ around them.  Given what may open up with some of these questions, you may consider having some facilitated sessions to contain your dynamic and cautiously delve deeper. Either way, I think these are thought-provoking and worth exploring:

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group counselling online

Differentiation Based Couples Therapy: Can I Be Truly Loved?

As a couples therapist, I follow the work of Dr David Schnarch, a Differentiation based therapist. Schnarch is critical of love and relationships based on Hollywood-style notions of romantic infatuation, which is time-limited once you truly get to know someone where it becomes more personal.  He says that marriage is a people-growing machine and an opportunity to become more capable of loving authentically on life’s terms, creating realistic patterns of marriage instead of romantic notions (Schnarch, 2012).  

What Is Differentiation Based Couples Therapy

This points to the concept of healthy differentiation.  A well-differentiated person is able to balance autonomy and intimacy: being close and being themself.   Schnarch defines differentiation as “People’s ability to balance humankind’s two most fundamental drives: our desire for attachment and connection, on the one hand, and our desire to be an individual and direct the course of our own lives, on the other.

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How To Deal With FIFO Relationships

How To Deal With FIFO Relationships [Top 10 Tips]

In Fly In Fly Out relationships emotional and relational investment is just as important as the career and financial investment you work away from your partner and family to gain, don’t lose one over the other – you can have both! Read on to learn how to deal with FIFO relationships.

The effect on the relationship with your partner and on families when working away varies according to the length, predictability, and frequency of shifts. Conditions of employment; personalities; children’s ages; special needs of members of the family; access to services; support networks such as community groups, friends and extended family;  and education services all play a role in whether you feel like you’re going to ‘lose it’  or ‘keep it together’. 

Managing what is best for you, your partner and your family is as individual as the personalities within it. An important way to resolve issues is to have an open conversation to identify the key concerns and jointly work out how to manage the unique challenges of your own relationship dynamics and family needs. 

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marriage counselling

Couples Counselling: Aren’t you and your partner worth investing in?

People come to couples counselling for all sorts of reasons – arguments; distancing and avoidance behaviour; coping with major changes; sexual concerns; resolve conflicts; addictions and habits;  infidelity; trust issues; extended and blended family concerns; coping with major differences; parenting styles and the list goes on. 

Sometimes it is because they recognize they’ve grown apart and want to understand why and work on rekindling.  Some couples come for pre-marital counselling to establish a foundation or ensure they are making the right decision to get married.  And others come because they want to separate but want to facilitate that process civilly, outside of a legal or mediation process because there is still enough love, respect and concern for the affect on their loved ones – it’s about ‘clean pain’ versus ‘dirty pain’.

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How to Write Letters to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

How to Write Letters to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

Reciprocal Letter Writing to Learn Calm Corrective Conversation Often we get stuck in triggered and heightened communication …

What Kind Of Relationship Am I In - Healthy Relationships

What Kind Of Relationship Am I In – Is It Healthy?

If you think about your relationship as a medical metaphor, which one best fits? Sometimes when my clients are stuck and …

Will My Relationship Survive

Will My Relationship Survive?

If you are asking yourself, “Will my relationship survive?”, it is well worth reading these relationship questions. …