How can couples and marriage counselling work?

Given you have landed on this page, you are probably looking for a deeper understanding of couples and marriage counselling. The relationship you have with your significant other is commonly considered the most important relationship in our society. From the moment we are born, we are reliant on forming human connections and seeking love and fulfilment. However, while forming relationships is an instinctual part of humanity, making sure they are healthy and valuable is learnt.

If you are experiencing relationship problems and looking for answers, here is how seeing a relationship counsellor can help.

What is relationship and marriage counselling services?

Relationship counselling involves talking to a counsellor or psychologist about difficulties you are experiencing in your relationship. Built on the premise of open communication and trust, couple counselling is a fundamental practice that helps guide couples build strong, respectful and healthy relationships.

Couple counselling is not only for married couples. No matter the length or type of relationship issues you are experiencing – all kinds of couples can seek help.

Common types of relationship issues

A solid relationship can mean different things to different people. To build a healthy relationship it is important to learn and understand the key factors that contribute to both you and your partner’s wellbeing.

Every relationship experiences pressures and issues. Some issues can seem difficult to overcome; However, we can focus on how we respond to these barriers to provide and gain fulfilment from our relationship.

  • Clear communication
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Encouragement and support
  • Trust
  • Respect

Often if one of the listed components is not met consistently, we may feel issues beginning in our relationships. A relationship counsellor can introduce you to mindfulness practices and techniques which can help you and your partner feel understood by each other.

What are the benefits of relationship therapy?

Many couples will experience periods of conflict, anger, mistrust or unclear communication. This can be scary to notice previous ways of communicating aren’t working as well as they once did. When we don’t address these issues with communication and search for a solution, what often happens is we may lose the feeling of trust, intimacy and begin noticing repeated arguments.

Relationship counselling offers a space for you and your partner to clearly communicate, express your needs and seek professional methods of dealing with and solving the conflicts in your relationship.

Where can I see a couples therapist?

If you are looking for support to improve communication and reach a healthy point of your relationship, please feel free to call or email Counselling on the Coast to see if I am the correct counsellor to help, listen and support you through any relationship experiences including couples and marriage counselling Gold Coast.

Sarah Bergman provides counselling through the practice of Psychotherapy for individuals and couples at her Tweed Heads Practice. When you attend counselling with Sarah, you can expect to be treated to the highest standard in a warm and supportive environment. Visit

Depression Counselling – Coolangatta

Counselling Palm Beach – Family Estrangement

Family Estrangement

Counselling Palm Beach

Providing Counselling (Palm Beach) I am often reminded when walking along Palm Beach how important family is and how painful family estrangement can be. In a nutshell, family estrangement is when at least two family members turn away from, alienate or keep at a distance from each other. They are generally no longer on friendly terms and at least one of the family members found the relationship unsatisfactory or too painful to continue. Whether you are on the receiving end of estrangement or the one who instigates the distancing, estrangement often leaves a feeling of unfinished business like a wound that never heals.

Family bonds begin when we are born and continue through our most impressionable years. Our early dependence on our caregivers and other family members grows into strong emotional attachments. When there is persistent unresolved conflict or disappointment leading to estrangement this feeling or sense of emotional attachment often will exist long after the relationship has broken down. To belong and be included is a basic need and it does not go away, even when we are able to look after ourselves. Some people have described their own experience of family estrangement as living with a phantom limb. That is, when the sensation of the limb (often painful sensation) persist long after the amputated or missing limb. This excellent analogy shows the depth of difficulty often experienced by those trying to make peace with family estrangement.

Another reason the difficulty of family estrangement often persists is due to the common triggers that reopen old wounds and spike even dormant estrangement pain. For instance, being around another family member can highlight one’s own exclusion. Family celebrations like birthdays and the holiday season also provide a constant reminder of the continuing emotional loss, sense of failure, humiliation, shame from rejection, guilt or unresolved feelings. These reminders or triggers reignite the wound of estrangement allowing it to fester as unfinished business.

Silence is also a contributing factor to ongoing suffering around family estrangement. No-one likes to talk about their experience for fear of being judged or stigmatised by others. This silence can create a feeling of isolation and loneliness especially around the holiday season.

Family estrangement affects all family members and can go on to create an intergenerational rift that can persist for years and maybe even replicate itself in subsequent generations.

This does not need to be the way. Often as a Gestalt therapist providing Counselling (Palm Beach) area I have found that family estrangement occurs for various reasons, ranging from difficulty maintaining relationships due to interpersonal challenges, differing values and beliefs, intolerance, disappointment, major life events, change, or poor communication. I have found that when clients begin to make meaning around what happened, how it happened and what they may have done or not done to contribute to the estrangement, understanding emerges and a greater sense of how to move forward into reconciliation or acceptance of what is becomes evident.

If you are estranged from your family and you are experiencing difficulty from the loss, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out and speak to people you trust or seek professional counselling in Palm Beach.

Family estrangement is more common than you think.

Counselling Palm Beach…

Counselling Kingscliff – Perfect vs Imperfect

Counselling Kingscliff – Perfect vs Imperfect

Our preoccupation with absolute ends verses acceptance of       what is!

Providing counselling in the Kingscliff community I am often reminded by nature of the perfections and imperfections in life and that both states are required in order to experience the fullness of life.

As a counsellor (Kingscliff) I am very grateful for the privilege of being able to sit with and support people at their most vulnerable and confused. At these times I’ve often noticed that as humans we tend to have a preoccupation to absolute ends, contrary to what nature intends. That is,  we have a tendency toward having things complete in a certain way that hopefully suits us. Having things our way makes us feel in control and this in turn makes us feel safe and comfortable. However, we all know this is not how life works and so counselling does not always bring about change in the way we anticipate. Mostly the work is around awareness and acceptance of how things are firstly, and then from this place change occurs. It is not about making ourselves, others or situations perfect in order to suit us. It’s about learning to stay with the discomfort that life is not always perfect.

Life can be difficult and confusing at times and we may respond defensively by pushing and striving for perfection inside and out, hoping to gain some control.  Or we may spend our lives constructing ways to constantly avoid the discomfort of ambiguity and/or the dichotomy that exists in our experience of ourselves, others and situations. Some of us may allow perfectionism to take hold never allowing ourselves to rest, while others may become apathetic and give in to being pushed around by the environment.

How can we meet this dilemma?

It seems the answer is in reconciliation. That is, to restore friendly relations between the opposing forces within ourselves, others and situations. To realise on a deeper level that we need bad to truly appreciate good or to experience up we must have the contrast of down. We are not here just to experience the comfort of life but also the discomfort, how we choose to make friends with the more difficult sides of ourselves, others and situations will greatly affect how we respond to the perceived faults.

Nothing is perfect, everything has flaws, even nature and the beautiful Kingscliff community. We are all a messy canvas, making beautiful mistakes in the chaos of life. When we learn from our mistakes we evolve and we can only learn if we are receptive. To receive we need to let go of our preconceived ideas and discover each other, ourselves and situations as they are, rather than through the lens of how we think it should be? When we are forcing and trying to control we are missing the essence of things and we lose the opportunity to challenge our assumptions and expand our world.

Let’s let go of the pain of striving for the absolute end of perfection in ourselves, others and situations for it does not exist. The relief and beauty we are looking for exists in the acceptance of the imperfect. Turn toward, not away.

Life is painful and beautiful!

Counselling Kingscliff…

Where relationships go wrong – how to stay connected after baby arrives.

Where Relationships go wrong – how to stay connected after baby arrives.

Where relationships often go wrong is when the baby arrives.


Where relationships go wrong? Once the baby arrives your relationship changes very suddenly and without warning. Everything feels different, even your partner as you both try and adjust to this new stage in your lives, in your own way.  Life changes rapidly and disconnection often arises. It has been reported that 2/3 of couples become dissatisfied with their relationship within 3 years of having a child and dissatisfaction can last for years after that, if not resolved.

(I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden)


Where relationships go wrong – Top 10 difficulties and demands on the relationship

  • Limited time with each other and for your-self to connect in meaningful ways
  • Fatigue and stress
  • Raging hormones
  • SEX (men want at least a quickie vs women seeing it as another chore and no time or energy for anything more)
  • Money
  • Loss of spontaneity
  • Boredom
  • Domestic duties
  • Increased responsibility and sacrifices, less fun
  • Parenting styles

Understanding is key when you become parents, this is when you will find out who your spouse really is!  You will experience:

  • How they cope under pressure
  • How patient and understanding they are
  • How reasonable they are
  • Whether they are a good listener
  • How Responsible they are
  • Whether they are good at sacrificing
  • Whether they are team player

You will experience all sides of them. Remember to breathe!

This is a new experience for both of you and one that is going to last for a long time and more than likely become more challenging as baby number two, three or even four come along.

Getting to know each other on these new terms will take time and possibly a lot of patience. You will both have to be creative in how you reconnect with each other. It is not going to be like it was before the baby. SEX will change, you will change and your relationship will change.

How to stay connected after baby arrives.

Foreplay (not what you think):

  • Be understanding of each other
  • Listen to each other
  • Appreciate and respect each other’s difference
  • Accept it’s not going to be easy
  • Be gentle with the others vulnerability
  • Help each other
  • Choose your battles
  • Share and care
  • Talk to each other respectfully and honestly
  • Don’t take yourselves too seriously


  • Spend time together whenever you can, doing things you enjoy and that are novel. Give space and time for the enjoyment of sex and connection to arise naturally and without pressure.

Grow into your new relationship together, as a team!

If you are struggling in your relationship and need couple counselling contact

Sarah @ Counselling on the Coast 0422 620 151


We see clients from (Burleigh Heads, Palm Beach, Tugun, Coolangatta, Tweed Heads, Banora Point, Kingscliff, Casurina, Cabarita and Pottsville)



Loneliness support – why seeking support is crucial to your health

Loneliness support – why seeking support is crucial to your health

Loneliness support on the Gold Coast and Tweed Coast is crucial to your health. Following is the latest research found on the  physical and mental impacts of loneliness:

  • an inability when alone to feel at ease with what you are doing
  • overwhelming stress
  • disrupted sleep
  • unfocused, dissatisfied and easily distracted (loneliness drives us to search for something or someone)
  • health problems –  headaches, digestive problems, cognitive decline, weakened immune system, exhaustion
  • feelings of threat, insecurity, frustration
  • distorted perception
  • hesitant in engaging with others

Paradoxically, loneliness is becoming more prominent in modern society with the rise of social media. Rather than staying connected through face to face meetings, engaging in spontaneous conversation and sharing, people are opting to stay connected via social media. This choice is creating a culture of disconnection and is leading people into a greater risk of isolation on the beautiful Gold Coast and Tweed Coast.

The lonely can often feel like there is something wrong with them in the midst of others experiencing social abundance on social platforms like facebook. Social media however, often does not paint an accurate picture of one’s situation or feelings.

Culturally loneliness is often hidden and the lonely are generally reluctant to speak about there feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, fear and unease. These are difficult emotions to share especially when there appears to be an unfair and unhelpful stigma pinned to the lonely recipients, such as loneliness being their fault.

Loneliness is complex and can stem from many reasons and happen to anyone at anytime. Chronic loneliness is when it continues for years and something has gone wrong with connections. Connection is relational and it takes two to tango! So it is never just the lonely persons fault.

Sufferers of chronic loneliness crave companionship and yet paradoxically find themselves pulling away and falling deeper into loneliness. This is because the lonely can become more socially inhibited the longer the loneliness lasts. The world can begin to look like a threatening place especially when confronting it on your own. Thus the chronically lonely begin to perceive threat in social situations and/or intimate relationships and view them as risky. Hence they withdraw more into their own safety, familiarity and simplicity which in turn shores up their self reliance and keeps them in protective isolation. Even with a social network or emotional support the lonely can still feel inherently lonely and disconnected.

Loneliness Support – What to do?

It is important to understand that transitioning away from loneliness is a gradual process that takes  time. The lonely person needs to pace themselves in easing back and forth into social and intimate relationships whilst acknowledging that leaving their own familiar place will take courage, time and practice. Loneliness does not simply end at the start of a relationship, it is a skill to stay connected when disconnection has been the back drop of life for so long. As the lonely person eases back and forth they begin to recognize their tendencies to withdraw and can monitor their reactions. Ask yourself whether the sense of threat you are experiencing is realistic. Examine your urge to retreat and withdraw when needed.

Loneliness and disconnection is a difficult habit to break when you view the world as threatening and withdrawal is a natural consequence.

Emily White, Lonely – Learning to Live with Solitude is a great book on this subject.

If loneliness is a concern for you often a willingness to name loneliness as a concern and talk about your experience can be the beginning of moving forward into connection.

Help is available for loneliness on the Gold Coast and Tweed Coast by contacting

Sarah @ Counselling on the Coast on 0422 620 151

(Pottsville, Cabarita, Kingscliff, Tweed Heads, Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads)

What are Boundaries?

Symptoms of Stress