Introduction

Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses. Some of these may have been around from the start of the relationship and others may have developed over time.

Whatever your situation, there may come a time when at least one of you feels the relationship isn’t working. Maybe you are considering breaking up or have resigned to distance and a lack of intimacy.

Perhaps there is recurring conflict, about something (seemingly) trivial like the dishes or something essential like parenthood or intimacy. For some couples there is unresolved pain, for example due to affairs or disappointments, others find that childhood themes get in the way.

As couples therapists, we work with couples who struggle. We look at what is happening between the two of you together, where you clash, which patterns are unhealthy, where your perspectives don’t match and where something is stuck at a deeper level.

We provide an environment where it is safe and productive to explore these issues, develop alternatives and heal old wounds.

But our focus is not exclusively on what doesn’t work. We also like to pay attention to things that strengthen the foundations of your relationship, such as friendship, intimacy and joy.

We explore how you can find more shared meaning together and contribute to each other’s life dreams. And we like to strengthen the commitment and trust between the two of you.

Thorough intake

We start couples therapy with a thorough intake of three 90-minute sessions. We are not yet concerned with interventions, instead we seek to obtain a good picture of what is going on and what you feel and need.

In the first session we will discuss what brought you to us, how your relationship has evolved over the years and how you deal with each other during conflict. After the first session, you will complete two comprehensive and scientifically validated questionnaires about your relationship.

In the second sessions each of you will talk to one of us. During this one-on-one we delve deeper into the relationship and look back at your personal history. This tells us how life has shaped you and whether there are things from your past that influence the relationship.

In the third sessions we share our findings and recommendations. You will be given a paper summary as well, so you can read this back home at your leisure. We will let you know what we see as the strong and weak parts of your relationship and how we will achieve your relationship goals. In that process, we tend to combine individual and couples therapy.

In-depth proces

For each couple we design a tailor-made process, in which we tend to combine joint and individual therapy sessions for optimal results.

A first step may be a joint session – with the four of us – on MBTI and the Enneagram, two approaches to personality type. This gives you more insight into yourself and each other, for example about how you behave in times of stress and how you prefer to communicate, make decisions, deal with feelings and organise your life.

In other joint sessions we work on solving relationship problems and strengthening your foundations. We tailor these sessions to your goals and needs.

Often we focus on intimacy, fulfilling needs, realising life dreams, and having honest and clear communication. We also look at strengthening trust and commitment, as well as friendship and shared meaning.

Sometimes it is necessary to heal old wounds, to talk things through in such a way that pent-up feelings are released and both partners can move on. We often teach couples how to have healthy conflict, so that it can lead to more contact, deeper conversations, and getting your needs met.

Individual sessions
We alternate between joint sessions and individual sessions, in which each partner works individually with one of us. We do this so that your own process receives maximum attention and we always use an intervention that is best for you.

During these sessions we tackle difficult feelings and behaviours whose source lies in the past. We draw on a wide range of therapeutic approaches and pay a lot of attention to the body and feelings, where these old things are often stored.

Our approach does not offer a quick fix and takes some time, but it does achieve sustainable results. Some clients become calmer, more present, and more loving, while others learn to stand up for themselves, take better care of themselves and communicate more clearly.

Gradually, our clients also learn to replace their unhealthy behaviours with better alternatives. They also find it easier to be true to their values, talents and needs.

When both of you follow this individual process, it has a huge positive effect on the relationship. You have more understanding, gentleness, and patience for each other, no longer push each other’s buttons and find it easier to connect.

The key to our approach is close integration between the joint and individual sessions. What you learn and heal individually feeds into the collective sessions, while what you do together is used in the individual sessions. This is a powerful way to grow together.

Do I really need it?
Some couples are surprised, even skeptical, when we recommend individual therapy in addition to couples therapy. After all, everyone has done some work on themselves, received coaching or done therapy.

We do not force anyone to have individual sessions in addition to couples therapy. However, we do believe this is a wonderful way to grow as a person and as far as we’re concerned, that process is never finished.

Life in general and relationships in particular are a rich source of inspiration. Plus, at different stages of life and with special events, such as illness and the death of a loved one, we are presented with new challenges. And when our partner changes, something else gets asked of us.

As mentioned, we notice that many relationship problems have their source in our past. In a way, our partner reflects those issues back at us rather than cause them in the first place. We also ding that people tolerate situations that are bad for them, out of habit, because they are not aware of alternatives and because it “doesn’t kill them”. While there may not be an acute problem, people do deny themselves the opportunity for a better life.

We believe that a personal process can add a lot of value, not only by solving problems, but also by making room for growth in hitherto unknown areas. We live by this and continually invest in our development, through therapy as well. We wish that for our clients too.

Als stel werken met stellen

Wij – Fleur en Ilja – kiezen er voor om als stel met stellen te werken. Onze cliënten geven aan dit zeer waardevol te vinden, omdat ze zo meer aandacht krijgen, sessies gebalanceerder zijn en er geen zorgen zijn over ‘aan wiens kant’ de therapeut staat.

Daarnaast voegen wij door onze samenwerking diepgang aan het proces toe. Hoewel we beiden getraind zijn in een breed scala aan therapeutische disciplines, zijn we verschillende mensen met complementaire talenten, vaardigheden en perspectieven. Dat brengen we in.

Fleur, bijvoorbeeld, heeft een beter begrip van het vrouwelijke perspectief op relaties en het leven, bijvoorbeeld als het gaat om grenzen, seksualiteit, vrouw-zijn, (stief)moederschap, en werk. Ilja heeft een meer mannelijk perspectief op zaken zoals intimiteit en emoties, boosheid, vaderschap, werk en seksualiteit.

Daarnaast putten we ook uit onze eigen ervaring als stel, dat al veelvuldig door het leven is getest. Ook vormt het diepe respect dat we voor elkaar hebben en het plezier dat we beleven in elkaars aanwezigheid, een veilige en inspirerende basis voor anderen.

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Practical

We do not work with health insurers and do not have a waiting list. In general, we can get started quickly.

We advise our clients to work with us face to face, because that is how we achieve the best results.

If distance is an issue or you have health concerns, we can work online.

Our clients are not bound to a fixed number of sessions or a never-ending process that no longer works for them. Your needs are leading: as long as you feel that you are learning and growing, you can keep going. When you feel you’ve had enough and the relationship is where you want it to be, we stop.

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