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One family's experience

John and Mary have been living together for 8 years and have two children, 6 year-old Tina and 3 year-old Angelo. John and Mary would describe their relationship, family circumstances and general living circumstances as fairly typical of a working family living in suburbia. Over the past 18 months, the reality of juggling a hectic lifestyle of two working parents with two boisterous sons was beginning to take its toll on their relationship, and it had begun to affect their family’s wellbeing.

John and Mary had begun to argue more over the past year especially. They spent little time together, and when they did get opportunities to see each other, most of their discussions revolved around the practicalities of work and seeing to their children’s needs. Both parents were becoming increasingly concerned with their son’s fussiness and agitation at home, and recently Angelo’s day care had been reporting his growing aggression at school. Tina, who began school this year, had unexpectedly started to slightly lag behind other children with some aspects of her numeracy and literacy. Between the stress of John’s self-employment venture, Mary still adjusting to returning to work after maternity leave, Tina’s new schooling problems, Angelo’s escalating behaviour, and the growing strain in Mary and John’s relationship, the family decided it was time for help.


In therapy, Mary and John first took steps to identify and prioritise the multiple issues which they could see were getting in the way of their family’s functioning. The psychologist then worked with the family to come up with a plan to address these issues, making realistic and practical changes that didn’t further overwhelm the already struggling family. Some of the larger changes did take time, but Mary and John both agreed that the time and effort they invested into making those changes had been worth it.

In their final session with the therapist, Mary said, “I know we still have a way to go — and John’s business will always be a source of stress until it gets off the ground. But seeing the changes in Angelo and Tina over these past months, and feeling like John and I can once again talk constructively about those bigger issues over a quiet dinner… That’s what’s important to me”.

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