“My life has been full of experiences compelling me to see that at the heart of healthy relationships is collaboration and co-creation. This understanding has been foundational to my wellness” Sean Tonnet
Relationships are fundamental to our survival, growth, and wellness. They are a facet of everything we do. A myriad of manifestations permeating our families, work and friendships. Relationships are beautiful, complex, restorative and sometimes destructive… Essentially, from birth to death we are connected, and indeed, dependant, on others.
“Professional, Reliable, Established…”
Working with individuals, couples, families, therapists and organisations, my work as a relationship therapist, supervisor and trainer elicits transformation, expansion, and movement. I’m entirely committed to ensuring a safe environment that is caring and reparative
My hope is to support people to build healthier, authentic, co-designed relationships, that simultaneously promote personal awareness.
As you may imagine, supporting you with a life span of relationships requires a specialised skill set and some unique knowledge. With over 12 years and 7000 case hours direct experience in relationship therapy and training (and a further 18 years working in related human services), my reputed, recognised and respected services are highly sought after.
That’s why building some knowledge about a therapeutic process can be really important. When I first meet people I want to acknowledge this uncertainty; a place that absolutely requires safety, trust and care. A starting place for our work together.
There is significant evidence and research that Psychotherapy is effective in supporting people in their relationships and personal lives. Psychotherapy works to understand conscious aspects of your present lived experience as well as bringing the unconscious aspects into consciousness. A key element of the practice of most contemporary psychotherapy’s is the interpersonal relationship between the therapist and the client. The therapist/client interaction provides the relational encounter through which the client becomes aware of their repeated patterns and ways of relating and develops the ability to identify their needs and mobilise to meet those needs in contemporary life. Together, therapist and client may refer to personal story, experiences in family of origin, relationship history, imagination, illness as well as sexuality, spirituality, ethnicity and culture.
Trust is a critical element in any decision making and for this reason, it can be a tricky area picking a therapist. Let’s face it, it’s not cheap and there are a lot of us out there and many different approaches: Psychology, psychotherapy, counselling. For these reasons, most people rely on word of mouth and begin therapy with me because they have heard of my practice through family, friends or another health practitioner. Sometimes though, people are looking around or want to know more about me before making contact. Here are some questions I encourage people to ask:
Q.How much of therapy have you had (or are you getting)?
A. Continuously. I think it’s critical to know that your therapist has worked through or continuing to work through some of their own issues. Many therapist’s don’t.
Q.Am I a member of a peak body like PACFA?
A. Yes, I am. This helps orientate my therapy around qualifications, a code of conduct and practice guidelines
Q. Are you experienced or specialising in the area I hope to get support?
A. Yes. As you will see navigating around this website I have specialised my therapy practice around working with people in their significant life relationships.
Q. How will I really know if you’re the right therapist?
A. This is difficult. Sometimes people feel an intuitive connection or get a sense of me and my style when we get to talk and meet. Regardless, I encourage lots of opportunity from the first session to reflect on whether we are a good fit or not and to do something about it.
My core training is in Gestalt psychotherapy, so primarily I rely on this modality to influence the direction of my therapy practice. Fundamentally, that means that my work is about personal and relationship growth through awareness, where the quality of our therapeutic relationship is essential in facilitating change. It’s from the safety of our connection that you can build more understanding of how you are in your significant relationships and the world generally. Recognising, refining and practicing opportunities for you to think, feel or act in a new, positive way.
Intrinsically we are all striving towards balance and personal growth and facilitating this within my practice includes utilising a blend of traditional psychotherapy and creative experiential approaches working with art, somatic, sand tray therapy and more. I overlay this methodology with specialised training in mindfulness, Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples, Art of Relationship Training, Trauma-informed practices, Group Leadership and working with children/adolescents.
An important aspect of the way I work is that I see the therapy process as a verb. It’s not a space for ‘dump and run’, but rather an action where both the therapist and the client co-design the healing relationship. Although my therapy practice holds at its core a gentle, protective and empathic approach, it will also be, at times, a collaboration that is arousing and challenging.
Many people wonder what happens in the first session of therapy. Especially if they are coming to therapy for the first time. In essence, the first session is all about getting to know each other and laying the ground for any ongoing sessions. I encourage people to ‘check me out’ and make sure that they let me know if they are feeling I’m not a good fit. I will either adjust my style or refer them to another therapist whom I know may be more suited.
The first session often includes me:
Additionally, and depending on why you have come to me, the first session can include some education and training around aspects of your relationships or parenting that can help scaffold the work that we will do, the language we may use and provide an overall map for our session together. In couples therapy, this can often be a big out breath as couples start to see something different other than blame, contempt and defensiveness.
Finally, the first session sets us up for subsequent sessions. It’s often a place where you will find the confidence to work with me, gaining a sense of my style and a beginning place in trusting my process. Of course, it’s a space where we will also contract around the cost and rhythm of subsequent sessions.
For most people therapy can be important and helpful at some point in their lives. Often the signs or feelings are obvious and you will be confident in making a decision to get support. Although sometimes it can be a little harder to know and we could only become aware we aren’t our usual selves when our life is falling apart. For me, good indicators that I may need to get therapy is when I start to realise that there is a particular behaviour or thinking pattern that I am repeating that either doesn’t make me feel good about myself, impacts my health, my general energy level or functioning and importantly the connection with others that I desire. Sometimes, I’m aware of a set of life circumstances like grief and loss, changes to employment and of course, relationship difficulties that are impacting me strongly. In my significant relationships, I may start to notice a consistent and negative distance, neediness or conflict dynamic.
One of the misconceptions stopping people seeking therapy is that they feel like they have to acutely unwell or for their significant relationship on the brink of collapse before they seek support. For instance, some people can think that it is ‘weak’ to talk about emotions or you have to be ‘crazy’ to go to therapy. None of this is true and in fact, making a decision to get support when you are less distressed, even if at that time of the appointment you’re really unsure about the benefit, can be significant in reducing the duration and increasing the positive outcomes. For example, in couples therapy, there is solid research around the overall success of therapy when couples are seeking support before they are entrenched in high levels of couple distress
Regardless, if you’re not sure about whether to seek therapy or you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss the appropriateness of attending a session.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this tricky question. Some of my clients will see benefits straight away, and others have been working with me for many months and sometimes years. It will usually depend on the issues that people are attending therapy for and a combination of their life circumstances, types of relationship support and existing personal awareness.
It can take a little time to build the ingredients for effective therapy. Things like relationship trust and emotional safety can be something unfamiliar to some people. Generally, though, I often suggest that somewhere around 6 – 8 sessions is when most people will start to see some benefit from therapy. However, it is not uncommon for this to also a beginning place and session can continue from here.
I tend to suggest that a good rhythm for sessions is usually fortnightly. Although weekly appointments are also effective and important if things are critical. Hopefully as therapy advances and there are some changes and improvements for you, sessions can move to more maintenance of check-up appointments.