Couples Counselling and Psychoanalysis in Edinburgh, and Online

Couples therapy can take a number of forms, from typical relationship counselling, to a more psychoanalytic approach studying perception and interaction.

Psychoanalytic Couples Therapy

Stuart has a psychoanalytic approach to couples work, focusing on perception, communication and the interaction between the partners. Often couples have very different perceptions of what certain things mean, how things appear or how their communication is received. Often mis-communication can lead to people talking or behaving at cross purposes, even when deep commonalities occur under the surface. it is not unusual for a “decoded” conversation to reveal that on the whole both parties want very similar things. Support is available for both existing couples, and clients getting ready to take their relationship to a new level, for example through marriage, or other commitments such as civil partnership, having children or adopting. This is often an ongoing support process.

Defense mechanisms in couples therapy

Often people project and transpose issues, emotions, and meaning onto each other and this can be due to a range of classic and non classic defense mechanisms. What this means in practice is that the person will behave or communicate out of pain or fear, and the message or behaviour is not sending the meaning they would like. Often the result is distorted, provocative or even aggressive.  Once the two meanings are identified: the practical meaning they need to communicate, and the underlying pain that needs expressing, the emotional and practical needs can both be communicated in a way the other party can understand and respond to.

Narrative in couples therapy

Often the narrative in couples therapy is subtly different for each party. The story, meaning and direction each person thinks of about themselves and the “couple”, can be very different and based on a false understanding of what the other thinks.  One party may try to “mind read” the other, get it completely wrong (as we often do), and as a result have a distorted idea of the narrative of the relationship.

The Dance in the relationship

Once issues have arisen in a relationship, arguments or unhealthy discussions can often take a familiar pattern. This can be like the steps of an old familiar dance, where one person’s comment or behaviour inevitably leads to the other person responding in the usual way, resulting in the next stage, over and over again. The whole argument therefore is like the steps of the same dance, often with familiar retorts, insults or topics thrown in. Behaviorally it is tricky but rewarding to find ways to disrupt the dance. Once achieved this provides opportunities to disengage,  reassure the other, express positive feelings, and as a result enable the other to reciprocate in kind. Often if one person makes a new comment such as “I can not agree with you, but despite that I love you and do not want to fight over this”, then the result can be a “step back” from the other,  and a deescalation.

The conditional apology

Once arguments are underway, no one wants to really “be wrong”.  Therefore there is a reluctance to take responsibility and apologise. Part of the reason for this is that apologies can seem unconditional, meaning “I am sorry for shouting, and for disagreeing and everything else besides”. Therefore conditional apologies are useful because they can enable deescalation without saying sorry for having an opinion. Therefore “I am sorry about being angry and upsetting you, I still disagree but I do not want to have an argument over it” enables apology for the anger part, but not having a different position. This may sound really obvious, but in the heat of an argument it is typical for this to be forgotten, and then in the aftermath for the apology to be all encompassing, leaving the person making the apology feel dis-empowered.

Stuart works with couples of all sexual preferences and backgrounds in a non judgemental environment.  Methods include psychoanalysis, coaching, language analysis and reflective counselling. Couples counselling and psychoanalysis are available in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Glasgow.

Unless stated otherwise counselling work is provided under the accreditation of the NACHP.

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Stuart actively works with and trains in LGBTQI* issues and cases.


According to Schmidt et al (2017) Relationship Therapy allows the individuals involved to develop their empathy levels. This can improve clients’ relationship through promotion of greater understanding of each other.

According to Nasershariati (2022) Couples therapy helps partners to be able to better understand their own and each others’ unhealed childhood wounds and unconscious processes. This can help promote empathy and a safe space for self – expression, this creating greater emotional proximity between individuals involved.

Schmidt, C.D. and Gelhert, N.C. (2017). Couples Therapy and Empathy: An Evaluation of the Impact of Imago Relationship Therapy on Partner Empathy Levels. The Family Journal, 25 (1).

Nasershariati, M. (2022). The Effectiveness of Image Relationship Therapy on Cohesion – Family Flexibility and Happiness of Couples with Emotional Divorce. Journal of Human Relations Studies, 2 (4), 22-31.

Key words: Psychoanalysis, couples counselling, couples therapy, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, psychotherapy, mindfulness, MCBT, CBT, CBA, NLP, hypnotherapy, psychotherapist, counsellor, psychoanalyst, hypnotherapist, hypnosis, hypnotist, mental health, talking therapy

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Primary Registration


UKAHPP registered psychotherapeutic counsellor (ordinary member: humanistic therapy only). Non clinical only

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