David specialises in working with couples that want to enhance their relationship, or who have become gridlocked and are looking for a way to reconnect. He is passionate about helping couples have happy relationships.
He uses practical and effective methods of couple therapy to help his couples overcome difficult relationship dynamics and rediscover the love that once brought them together.
Here’s what David had to say about his counselling work when we spoke to him recently.
Tell us a bit about your practice- where it is, who you work with and the services you offer
I rent a room in an IVF clinic, which is interesting at times when one of the issues some couples are seeking counselling for is having another baby. There was a time when one husband thought he had been set up …but that has only happened once.
I work with people who are struggling in their life, their relationships have no meaning, they feel depressed or are drowning in stress. I help them to discover how to enhance their relationships, overcome their depression and reduce the stress they experience.
How did you become interested in counselling and working with couples?
I initially was a telephone counsellor for a crisis line as I did their training course and thought I should go on the phones for a while. While on the phones I found that I really liked helping people this way especially fighting for the life side of someone who was thinking about suicide.
I decided to do some study and became a financial counsellor working with people with debt issues and after a while I wanted to help them more so I went to Uni at 43 to get a degree. The university had a Graduate Certificate in Couples Counselling and I thought that would be a very practical study to do and I like working with couples but also no matter what happens in the counselling room with an individual – couples and relationship issues often creep in.
I was 36 when I got married and can see that being lonely as a single is a far better place to be than married and lonely, so my heart goes out to those who are stuck in bad relationships. I have been happily married for 13 years and passionate helping others to have happy relationships.
What kind of relationship issues do you work with?
The relationship issues I work with tends to fall into two broad camps; those who just want to fine tune their relationship or accept things are not going well and both agree they want it to work ,and the second group where it is almost over or it is over and they want me to help them separate and able to go their separate ways.
How do you believe couples change and what supports long-lasting change in a couple?
We change because we choose to – grudgingly, angrily, out of fear or we realise that it is not working and we want things to be better (and we do something about changing). Short term it is about stopping the fighting and rediscovering the other person – enjoying them for who they not what they don’t do etc.
Long term it is about spending time together and accepting that sometimes the other will annoy you, esteeming the other not expecting (or relying on) them to make you feel good, welcoming that both of you are different and being different is what makes you a great team which equals a great relationship.
Tell us about your approach and why you believe the way you work is effective in helping couples change
I use a number of approaches in my work with a couple Solution Focus/Narrative – looking for what works or has worked and using that to reconnect them and some of the principles David Schnarch (author of Passionate Marriage) – exploring emotional gridlock, other and self-validation and point of difference.
Telling a couple that they are normal because they are having problems and that wanting to make it work by seeing a counsellor is not normal sets the scene for my work with them. By exploring how they get to a gridlock and how they usually get out of it helps them understand how to resolve disagreements but also how to put in place to use this knowledge as ways to grow.
Once you stop the fighting and get it to more like a debate or discussion and re-start intimacy (not sex, but just enjoying the others company) then they have the tools to start enjoying being in a relationship.
I am only a facilitator the couple do the work and change will happen if they are prepared to do the work.
Tell us what a couple can expect to experience in an initial counselling session with you
In the first session I focus on listening to their story and not taking sides, asking them what brings them to counselling and what they require of me, exploring if the relationship still has a future – if yes then are you prepared to play your part – if no then what are you seeking from this session.
On a personal note, tell us something that you’re passionate about or love to do in your spare time
I like watching Star Trek, Dr Who, Stargate … I like sci fi as it allows me to escape and unwind and I like spending my time with the beautiful Annette (my wife).