Couples Therapy

How can couples therapy help?

Couples come to therapy at different stages in their relationship and it can be incredibly beneficial in many different ways.


Some couples start therapy because they notice unhelpful themes or patterns in their relationship and find themselves stuck having the same argument over and over again. Other couples come to therapy because they are approaching a significant life event – like getting married, becoming parents or the children leaving home – and want to navigate that change in the best possible way.


Many couples don’t make it to therapy until they reach “breaking point”. And although it can be helpful in these situations too, ideally it’s best to come as soon as possible. This will enable you to understand how you’re both feeling and make meaningful changes before things get to a more challenging place.


What happens in couples therapy?

The main goal of couples therapy is usually to understand the dynamic of the relationship and what patterns are at play. When two people come together, they bring both themselves to the relationship but also their past experiences. Very often these vulnerabilities are easier to tolerate in the earlier stages of a relationship, but over time, they become more entrenched causing a lot of unhappiness in the process.


In couples therapy, we work to unravel how these patterns came to be and what underpins them. Once we’ve identified this, we look at ways to exit these patterns and discover new ways for you to be together that facilitate connection. The aim is always to help you both meet each other’s needs and find healthier ways of responding to each other.


As with individual therapy, there are different modalities in couples therapy. Depending on which approach your psychologist works with, there will be different types of exercises. This may involve some imagery work, connection exercises or homework between your sessions to help you better manage difficult situations when they arise.


Frequently asked questions

Couples therapy can be short-term if you’re looking to work on a specific issue in your relationship. In these cases, therapy might take about 6 months. However, a lot of the time, these types of patterns are more firmly entrenched and they take longer to work through. For this reason, on average, couples therapy tends to take a year.
This is a classic myth of couples therapy. Your therapist will never take sides or look to blame one partner for the problems in the relationship. Their role is to guide you in better understanding each other and resolving your own differences.

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Dr Stacie Tay

Dr Stacie Tay attained her BSc (Hons) Psychology at the University of Nottingham and worked as a psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore, before returning to the UK to complete her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University College London.   

Dr Tay has worked in a variety of settings within the NHS for more than eight years, including primary and secondary care, specialist psychological services and forensic inpatient settings. She currently works as a Clinical Psychologist at the North East London Foundation Trust.  

She has extensive experience working with individuals and groups, providing evidence-based psychological therapies including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) and Mindfulness-based approaches as well as Schema-informed therapy.   

Dr Tay’s clinical experience involves working with people who present with a range of mild to severe mental health difficulties. This includes depression, anxiety (OCD, social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, health anxiety, phobia-related disorders, PTSD), stress related issues, low self-esteem, complex trauma, interpersonal difficulties, grief and bereavement, and long-term health conditions.