Marriage Counselling – Couples Therapy

Find the Right Marriage Counsellor for You

Marriage Counselling Couples Therapy Sydney

Bridges Counselling – Cross to a Better Life

Do you want professional help from someone objective?

Our team of 6 marriage counsellors has the experience and expertise to help resolve your issues.

When you contact us, we will help you choose the best match for your situation from our Masters degree-qualified couples counsellors.

We are open daytime and after hours, Monday to Saturday, including evenings.

Our couples counsellors

Team members are listed in alphabetic order.

David Bridges

David Bridges - Bridges Counselling Parramatta

David Bridges

Special interest: Couples therapy for complex issues

Registered Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, PACFA Reg. Clinical

M Counselling, Grad Cert Emotionally Focused Therapy, Dip Ed, B Sc

Book online with David


Christina Jonkhoff

Christina Jonkhoff - Bridges Counselling Parramatta

Christina Jonkhoff

Special interestWomen with complex relationship and trauma issues

Registered Counsellor, PACFA Reg. Provisional

M Counselling, B Psychology

Call to enquire about bookings.


Jenny FitzGerald

Jenny FitzGerald - Bridges Counselling Parramatta

Jenny FitzGerald

Special interest: Women with complex relationship and trauma issues

Registered Counsellor, PACFA Reg. Clinical

Grad Dip Emotionally Focused Therapy, Voc Grad Dip Relationship Counselling

Call to enquire about bookings.


Jessica Joseph

Counselling Parramatta Sydney

Jessica Joseph

Special interest: Women with complex relationship and trauma issues

Registered Counsellor, PACFA Reg. Provisional

M Counselling, Grad Cert Emotionally Focused Therapy (Cand), B Sc, B Com

Book online with Jessica


Ralph Holwerda

Ralph Holwerda - Counselling Parramatta

Ralph Holwerda

Special interestCouples therapy for complex issues

Registered Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, PACFA Reg. Clinical

M Counselling, Dip Com Serv & Welfare

Book online with Ralph


William Fernandes

William Fernandes - Bridges Counselling Parramatta

William Fernandes

Special interestCouples therapy combined with individual therapy

Registered Counsellor, PACFA Reg. Clinical

M Counselling, BA

Book online with William


Your FAQs about couples therapy

How can marriage counselling help couples?

  • A motivated couple can begin to explore their problems from a new perspective.
  • They can learn new ways to recognise and resolve conflicts as a result of the tools provided by the therapist.
  • Partners can improve communication that may have eroded the quality of their interactions. It’s common for couples to reach an impasse and lose the ability to be vulnerable and trusting of one another.
  • It can provide “neutral territory” to help couples work through tough issues or to put aside “baggage” that prevents the couple from moving on.
  • Couples can decide to rebuild their marriage and make a renewed commitment, or clarify the reasons why they need to separate or end the marriage.

In sum, for marriage counselling to be effective, both partners need to be willing to take responsibility for their part in the problems, to accept each other’s faults, and to be motivated to repair the relationship. It’s important for couples to have realistic expectations because it takes more than a few sessions to shed light on the dynamics and to begin the process of change.

The above is courtesy of Terry Gaspard.

Is there is hope for our relationship?

You may wish to deal with issues before they get worse. You may be struggling with early relationship adjustments, and differences in roles and expectations. Areas affected include work, parenting, money, time, sex and lifestyle. When issues can’t be resolved, hurt and frustrations get buried and accumulate.

For other couples, what has happened in your relationship appears like a train wreck. Verbal and emotional abuse has taken a foothold. This may have occurred gradually or through traumatic incidents. There is no doubt about the huge damage.

Whatever has happened, as counsellors, we always look for hope. We never tell a couple that we are writing off their relationship.

However, saving and healing a relationship takes work. It depends on two partners capable and willing to being open and making a commitment to personal change, whatever it takes.

Can too much damage have occurred? The reality may be that the couple cannot continue together without further emotional damage. The goal then becomes one of how to respectfully renegotiate the relationship, or how to have an amicable relationship while separated.

Brdges Counselling - Couples talkingWhat happens in a first session of couples counselling?

In a first session, your counsellor will ask a series of leading questions to gather an understanding of the issues you wish you raise. The first session is an introduction. It involves a balanced process of each of you to speak freely, so that all relevant issues are put on the table.

By the end of the first session, a foundation of understanding will be laid, and some goals and plans agreed.

What are the common issues in relationship counselling?

  • Anger management
  • Affairs and Infidelity – discovery and rebuilding trust
  • Building better relationships
  • Commitment issues
  • Dating
  • Domestic violence (perpetrators and victims)
  • Communication issues
  • Conflict resolution
  • Decision making
  • Emotionally abusive
  • Extended family and in-laws
  • Internet, pornography and other sexual addiction
  • Intimacy and sexual issues
  • Family mediation
  • Parenting issues
  • Premarital counselling
  • Separation and divorce
  • Step family and extended family conflict
  • Step family parenting issues
  • Trust issues

Do we stay with the same counsellor?

In most cases, the couples counsellor you start with for relationship therapy is the one you continue with. You always have the right to discuss a change of counsellor. We find that this happens rarely as our intake process ensures that a good match is made at the time of booking.

Sometimes, one or both partners request their individual therapy for their own particular issues. They may attend for a one off session or maybe be a block of sessions. The couples counsellor may do this individual work, or it may be decided that someone more independent provides the therapy. Sometimes, the partner already has their own individual therapist.

Should we see a male or female counsellor?

Our answer is that it really depends on what the couple prefers. Most couples don’t mind. If one partner has a strong preference for a male or female counsellor, we try to honour that in the interests of finding the best match.

What if my partner doesn’t want to attend couples therapy (yet)

This happens. Our advice is to go through the options. For example, are there ways to explain the process of counselling, or persuade your partner to get individual support? Maybe they can have their own session with the couples counsellor.

Or is it better for you to seek your own individual therapy, to sort out your side of the issues. There is the option that the partner joins later, perhaps in the second or third session.

If you end up doing a longer block of your own individual therapy, and later on your partner wishes to try couples counselling, it would be best you both started with a fresh counsellor, so that you both enter it on a level playing field.

Individual therapy may help you to:

  • Understand the impact of past relationships or your family or origin
  • Improve your reactions so that they are considered, respectful and authentic
  • Find the assertiveness and courage to deal with an abusive relationship
  • Work through whether you wish to persevere or leave the relationship

Many of your couples counsellors use Emotionally Focused Therapy. How effective is that?

Racheal Tasker writes:

There is no magic formula that can fix a broken relationship, but many therapists have had incredible success using a type of therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT.

Bridges Counselling - EFTWhen asking “does marriage counselling work?”, statistics show that the answer is usually yes when couples use EFT. EFT works by helping a couple understand and reorganise their emotional responses to things. By working with their emotional cycles, a couple can come to a greater understanding of each other, and this can help them create new cycles of interaction.

When couples turn to EFT, 90 percent of them report significant improvements in their relationship. Between 70 and 75 percent of couples who are in distress are able to move into recovery using EFT. Essentially, EFT helps a couple foster their attachment in healthy and productive ways.

How is marriage counselling different from couples counselling?

Marriage counselling is a subset of couples counselling. Married couples have generally made a more specific commitment to each other. The stakes are higher.

More often than with couples counselling, children and step children are involved. Because married couples have been together for longer, the issues in the marriage may be more entrenched and complex.

Marriage has a whole world of meanings attached to it, depending on family, cultural and faith backgrounds. Those meanings are deeply formed from our family of origin, our personal values and previous relationships.

Questions unique to marriage therapy include:

  • Why did things change for the worse after we got married?
  • How can my spouse have an affair after all these years of marriage?
  • How can we continue in a marriage when we are just pretending?
  • Do we just stay together for the sake of the children?

Can mediation help me when I’ve had a falling out with a family member?

Sometimes, relationships break down between siblings, in-laws, children and friends.

You seek an objective third party or a neutral person outside the family to act as a mediator. A qualified relationship me is in a good position to work out a strategy to help guide you to successful mediation.

What training should I expect in a couples therapist?

Elisabeth Shaw MAPS, psychologist in private practice, writes about competency to practice:

“Couple and family therapy is quite commonly practised by therapists with little or no specific training. It seems to be thought that if one is individually trained, then it is not a great stretch to see other family members.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Issues surrounding relationships (violence and abuse, family law matters, sexual concerns, infidelity and other betrayals, severe attachment disruptions) all render this work highly complex and specialised.

Without core training, duty of care is potentially breached.”

All of the couples therapists at Bridges Counselling have a Masters degree in Counselling, or equivalent, and postgraduate training in couples therapy. We set a higher bar for practice. All our couples counsellors have:

  • Completed an integrated sequence of postgraduate course work in couples therapy
  • Training in couples work over a period of at least 12 months
  • Clinical supervisors with extensive experience in couples work
  • Professional Registration with ARCAP (except for Intern Counsellors)


Are there any question we have not answered? Please call us today for your free phone consultation.