Couples Counselling

Barry Kirker has over 10 years’ experience in Couples Counselling. During that time he has applied the knowledge from Workshops with renowned experts John and Julie Gottman, Bader and Pearson, and Sue Johnson. His approach to couples counselling combines aspects of various evidence-based models including enhancing communication/ resolving barriers, attachment, and emotionally focused work. Barry’s initial 90 minute session involves assessment of the issues, from which he suggests ways forward. Pre-session or take-home questionnaires are often completed as part of the assessment. Couples are generally seen together, though brief individual sessions can occur. Secrets are not held by the therapist.

Not all couples that attend sessions are committed to staying together. Sessions with a psychologist can be helpful to: determine motivation to continue the relationship including if it's best to separate, aid separating in an effective manner, and address how to best co-parent post separation.

Barry has a specialised interest in cross-cultural relationships. As well as working with individual mixed culture couples, he runs periodically a group programme as follows.

Overcoming Challenges in Asian-European Relationships

Programme for Improving your Cross-Cultural Relationship

This programme involves an initial assessment session, five group sessions, and a follow-up couple’s session. The group is co-facilitated with an Asian therapist. There is a minimum of 3 couples (6 persons), and maximum of 5 couples (10 persons) for the group. Assessment involves a one on one session with the couple together and then individually (30 minutes each). This is to identify their expectations about, and suitability for, the programme; and the issues couples wish to address, which can be covered in the group. Final couples’ session is a debriefing to bring things together, opportunity to respond to things not able to be raised in group, and has the outcome of a finalised couples’ agreement for going forward.

Contact South Auckland Psychology for details of programme costs and timing of sessions. Sessions are semi-structured; with an outline and goals for each session, while also allowing opportunity to work with whatever comes up. Couples do ‘homework’ each week between sessions.

For some general advice on managing cultural differences in a relationship click here.

Topics for the Group Sessions are as follows:

Session 1: General Issues in Cross-Cultural Relationships
Including culture vs gender, vs personality, vs socioeconomic; sources of conflict, expectations in relationships and parenting due to cultural backgrounds; maintaining culture of origin while being in NZ, isolation from family of origin, extended family and in-laws; cross-cultural attraction and reasons for choosing partner from another culture.

Session 2: Child Rearing Practices
Covering diversion of care and tasks, discipline, sleeping arrangements, indulging/ spoiling, role of in laws, strangers as baby sitters, and approach to education and teaching.

Session 3: Independence in relationships
Covering friends, money, careers, lifestyle balance and family priorities, individual vs collective responsibility and accountability.

Session 4: Communication
With use of videos and role plays to highlight different communication styles, covering manners and interpersonal approach, expression of shame and sorrow, showing appreciation, assertiveness, how love and respect is shown, and conflict management.

Session 5: Summarising and Actioning
Including developing a written plan for relationship survival; and what to accept and what to negotiate going forward.

Couples Counselling