Overcoming Relationship Difficulties: Individual Consultations with a Skilled Melbourne Psychologist

Individual therapy can be an effective way to address relationship difficulties. Common issues that individuals seek therapy for include communication challenges, frequent conflict, emotional separation, sexual challenges, infidelity, financial concerns, and parenting challenges. We understand each relationship is unique. That’s why we use a variety of evidence-based therapy approaches and strategies tailored to your strengths and challenges.

Relationship problems and when to seek support

Struggling to achieve intimacy in a relationship is a common issue for many couples. There are various factors that can contribute to this problem, with a few common relationship concerns, including:

Communication Challenges: Poor communication can create a variety of issues within a relationship and prevent emotional connection. Learning healthy, loving, and non-judgmental communication is essential for intimacy.


Unresolved Issues: Past hurts, anger, resentment, lack of trust, or feeling unappreciated can all be major obstacles to intimacy, hindering emotional closeness.


External Stressors: Financial problems, job-related stress, family conflicts, and lack of quality time for each other can create tension that hinders intimacy.


Childhood Trauma: Traumatic childhood experiences, such as abuse impact the way individuals form relationships as adults. Such experiences can impair trust and emotional closeness in adult relationships, posing significant hurdles to intimacy.

criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (The Four Horsemen) predict early divorcing.

Gottman, 1994

What are the common indicators of a health relationship?

The Sound Relationship House Theory, developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, serves as a comprehensive model for understanding a healthy relationship. Using a metaphorical “house,” it encompasses vital components like communication, emotional intimacy, and conflict management. While primarily used in couples therapy, these concepts are also applicable in individual therapy sessions with a psychologist.

Four core components to healthy communication:

Understanding the core communication styles that can predict divorce is pivotal for fostering enduring relationships. Renowned expert Dr. John Gottman identifies these styles, known as the “four horsemen,” as critical indicators of marital success. Research conducted by Gottman highlights that 83% of marriages affected by these “horsemen” can stabilise if couples learn effective reconciliation techniques. By unpacking and addressing these communication patterns, couples can lay the foundation for resilient, enduring relationships.

1. Criticism: Criticism goes beyond addressing specific mistakes; it attacks your partner’s character. The key lies in differentiating between Criticism and Complaints – the former can erode relationships, while the latter addresses behaviours without attacking the person.

2. Contempt: Contempt arises from a deep-seated sense of superiority, or feeling like your partner is worthless and beneath you. Contempt is often fueled by persistent negative thoughts. Overcoming this toxic emotion requires acknowledging its presence and fostering empathy, essential for restoring emotional connection.

3. Defensiveness: Defensiveness, a common response to criticism, involves making excuses or shifting blame instead of taking responsibility. Identifying defensive reactions and replacing them with constructive dialogue paves the way for healthier interactions.

4. Stonewalling: Stonewalling manifests when one partner emotionally shuts down, refusing interaction with the other, typically a response to contempt. Recognising this withdrawal and establishing open, respectful communication channels is fundamental in rekindling intimacy.

67% of new parents experience a precipitous drop in couple satisfaction in the first three years of the baby's life.

Shapiro & Gottman, 2005

How can psychologists support in overcoming relationship challenges?

Psychologists utilise evidence-based approaches and strategies, incorporating Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy and the Gottman Method of Relationship Therapy, to establish therapy goals. Our psychologists focus on improving communication by resolving conflicts, fostering intimacy, respect, and affection. The approach may involve breaking down barriers that create stagnation during conflicts and cultivating empathy and understanding within the relationship. Relationships are interconnected; one person’s actions affect the other. Positive change starts with you.

Evidenced-Based approaches for relationship improvement:

At our Melbourne psychology practice, our psychologists are trained in a range of proven therapeutic methods to enhance relationships. This may include:


  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, promoting healthier communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT): Concentrates on emotional responsiveness and attachment, helping couples understand and restructure their emotional responses to each other.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT): Combines cognitive and behavioral techniques to enhance emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance within relationships.
  • Mindfulness: Integrates mindfulness practices with relationship skills, enhancing emotional awareness and connection.
  • Schema Therapy: Targets deep-seated patterns and beliefs, addressing the root causes of relationship challenges.
  • Gottman Method of Relationship Therapy: A comprehensive approach addressing communication issues, conflict management, intimacy enhancement, and overall relationship satisfaction.

How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology help?

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we understand the complexities of relationship difficulties and provide therapy approaches to help individuals address these issues and improve their intimate relationships.

Unexpected life challenges and transitions often bring stress, relationship strain, and self-reflection. It’s natural to question your path during transformative life shifts.  

Make an Appointment

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we offer flexible appointments with our psychologists during the day, evening, or weekends, both in-person at our Melbourne psychology practice or online via telehealth.

believe in change and reach progress with a Melbourne psychologist

Our team of psychologists hold full registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and adhere to ethical guidelines as mandated by the Psychologists Registration Board and Australian Psychological Society. Our clinical practice is grounded in evidence-based treatment approaches, ensuring comprehensive support for individuals to navigate relationship challenges.