Marriage, Couples, and Relationship Counselling in Nanaimo

“Helping You and Your Relationships Grow, Heal, & Thrive”

What would it be like if you were able to talk about differences without escalating into negativity or silence; if you could respond to stress proactively together; if you could find solutions to issues, big and small; and if your relationship was a source of passion, comfort, and joy? These ideals can become a reality through couples therapy.

“Short-term skills & tools based counselling for couples, with long-term positive results”

Many couples find that marriage counseling itself is a hard slog. Meeting weekly to rehash what is wrong does not a hopeful experience make. Other negatives include “canned” advice. I believe counsellors should provide a very different experience. My work with couples is about change–using effective skills to do things differently. This does not mean avoiding problems, nor does it mean deliberately stirring up issues, or taking sides. Rather, couples counselling is an active process of using positive skills to move from stuck problems to healing, communication, connection, and intimacy.

The best place for change to begin is in the counseling room itself. In session, I provide you with tools and interventions tailored to your issues. For example, gain the skills necessary to create, strengthen, or rebuild trust. (To see a few ideas of tools & skills, check out my blog.) I help you apply these skills in your relationship and provide structure to practice them in session and at home so that benefits carry over into your daily life. It is a light-switch moment for couples when they see they can communicate without personal attack, name-calling, defensiveness, or shut-down.

What does Marriage Counselling Involve?

  1. Relationship Guidance: As a relationship counsellor, my role is to coach you through real-time interactions with effective, evidence-based skills so that you can connect and communicate with each other in positive, relationship-affirming ways. I do not just sit and listen, nor do I give simplistic, one-sided advice. I do get you the skills you need to create real understanding and connection. This involves creating structure so that negativity does not overwhelm, and using good communication/connection skills.
  2. Emotional Support: The biggest cause of relationship break-down is the sense your partner is not there for you emotionally. All emotions are important; the challenge is how to express them in your relationship. I help with skills to express your needs so that you and your partner can communicate with a deep sense of emotional safely, understanding, and empathy. You can express your needs and have them met without stepping on each other’s toes.
  3. Positive Experiences: Couples counselling is more than simply pointing out each other’s flaws–stuck conversations about what is wrong. It is about creating effective positive connection, learning to deal with conflict, creating a shared outlook, mutual support of each other’s dreams, and finding real joy. Therapy should also be fun. As we work through tough conversations with new skills, the fun factor increases.

Format of Couples Counselling

  1. Assessment: Two sessions are spent assessing patterns of interaction, finding where your greatest needs are. Assessment leads to specific interventions to change relationship patterns in the most time-effective way. There is also a written component to the assessment process (evidence based, unlike a magazine survey). These three parts to assessment make therapy much more effective and efficient.
  2. Intervention: This is the core of relationship counselling, where I work with you on implementing skills to deal with relationship issues in positive ways. Goals can include slowing down interactions; ending contempt; dealing with gridlock (unsolvable issues), emotional withdrawal, over-the top arguments, lack of passion and intimacy, and disagreement. Benefits of therapy include effective dialogue about issues; filling-up your “relationship bank account”; and restoring EXCITEMENT, ADVENTURE, and PASSION.
  3. Strengthening: The final phase of couples counselling is learning how to maintain gains made in therapy. This includes planning for exigencies so that your new skills hold for the long-term. I help you become the experts in positive relationship enhancement–finding and fixing connection with every step.

“Within the worst relational conflicts lie the greatest opportunities for growth and intimacy.” –John Gottman

Why See a Marriage Counsellor?

“Mochi wa mochi-ya,” a Japanese saying translates as: “When you want something done right, see a specialist.” Marriage counselling is a very specialized form of therapy and it is in your best interests to see someone who has specific training, skill, and at least a decade of experience. Couples counselling is the primary focus of my practice, and, in addition to advanced certification, I have over 15 years of direct experience. I am in the process of becoming one of the first Gottman-certified counsellors on Vancouver Island (and in Nanaimo). Many marriage counsellors are generalists who do not have the training and experience needed for successful couples therapy. According to research (John Gottman & Bob Levenson), couples who see counsellors without evidence-based couples therapy training are actually more likely to end their relationship.

Restoring Relationships

Research-based; personalized in practice: I am a certified Marriage Counsellor, with extensive post-graduate training in this area. My training is through The Gottman Institute in Seattle, WA, the world’s foremost relationship research & therapy center (I have had direct training by John and Julie Gottman). And, I have experience with Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT). I am also trained in Solution-focused therapy, which means that my goal is to help you restore your relationship as soon as possible (in terms of weeks, not years). This does not mean therapy is run out of a textbook, however; I fit my approach to your needs, issues, and personalities.

Other Couples Therapy options:

  • Intensive Couples Counselling: A program of accelerated couples therapy geared towards out of town couples who travel to Nanaimo specifically to do intensive therapy work. It is also popular with couples where one partner works away, couples dealing with a crisis (such as infidelity), and couples wishing to re-vision their relationship through a shorter, more intense experience.
  • Marriage Tune-ups: Brief analysis of your relationship’s strengths and challenges, including useful suggestions.


“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” –George Bernard Shaw

Supercharge Your Relationship with Marriage & Couples Therapy: Resolve Conflict Peacefully, Build Intimacy, Deepen Your Friendship, and Create a Shared Vision of the Future