Tuned for life

We can all do with a little help at different times in our lives. Sometimes we take the step voluntarily, other times because of the bumps and potholes along our road. Whatever the reason, the best – and most fruitful – place to look to improve our lives, or our relationships, is within. We need a healthy relationship with ourselves before we can hope for a good relationship with others.
At the Marriage Garage, I work with individuals and couples (whether together or apart), facing a variety of difficulties and circumstances. I also offer family dispute resolution mediation.
My aim is to develop greater self-awareness so clients can make positive changes in their lives. With improved emotional and psychological wellbeing, we can all operate better at work and home. I also teach skills for managing life’s challenges with more confidence and resilience.
If you’re committed to change, I can help you to reduce stress, create psychological ease, become more empowered and generally feel there are fewer barriers to a happy, successful life.


Some people find the idea of counselling scary or confronting. It needn’t be. It’s simply a way to unblock the barriers to a more fulfilling life.

Counselling focuses on the individual’s internal world and relationships. I look at a client’s belief systems and find ways of drawing on untapped resources. My aim is to help maximise my clients’ potential by strengthening their relationship with themselves. That in turn strengthens relationships with others.

During the first session, I work out a contract, or set of goals. In subsequent sessions I help clients begin to understand themselves more and manage their problems better. Throughout this process, I check to make sure clients are getting results that will lead to the agreed outcomes.

The number of counselling sessions an individual or couple will need depends on the complexity of the problem or problems. Clients can benefit from as little as a single session, although this is not common.

I use principally two theoretical frameworks: narrative therapy and emotionally focused therapy (commonly referred to as EFT).

Narrative therapy works on the premise that for every dominant “story” a person has about him or herself, there is a different, overlooked “sub-story”, which is often a more encouraging view of the “self”. Narrative therapy also views the client as the best expert on him or herself. Clients are eventually shown how to externalise, or separate from, their problems so they can overcome them in a more emotionally detached way.

EFT is based on attachment theory. It works to provide a stronger, more secure bond between couples. By tracking and exposing the unhealthy cycles in which many couples get stuck, EFT identifies one person as the “pursuer” and the other as the “withdrawer”. Both roles are coping mechanisms arising from a sense of fear, anxiety, rejection, inadequacy or powerlessness. EFT moves couples from entrenched positions to more emotionally open, collaborative ground. Couples describe feeling more alive, more intimate and more connected with one another.

These therapies can be used separately or together.

Life coaching

We all have blind spots that can stand in the way of achieving our dreams. I can help you to clearly define your goals and formulate the steps to accomplish what you want in your personal life or career.

Greater self-confidence and happiness flow from knowing you are on the path to a more productive and integrated way of living. Depending on what you want to achieve and the number of real or perceived obstacles in your way, life coaching is a brief therapy model (two to six sessions).

Family dispute resolution mediation

Separation and divorce are stressful enough without a fight over the children. Family dispute resolution mediation helps separated parents to resolve practical, emotional and financial matters relating to their children. My role as mediatior is to provide a safe, confidential setting where parents or guardians can talk in a calm, respectful manner. The aim of mediation is to reach a parenting agreement that is well considered and in the best interests of the children.

Before setting a mediation date, I meet each parent separately to find out what he or she wants for the children. If parents agree, children can have a voice in the outcome. In that case, I see them on their own and hear what they have to say in advance of the mediation date. I tell them their views are important, but that it is the adults who ultimately make any decisions affecting their living arrangements and care.

About Steph

I am a counsellor and mediator with more than 25 years’ experience in areas as diverse as mental health (psychiatry), trauma, addictions, sexuality, adoption, family therapy, couple counselling, workplace stress and burnout, workplace relationships, critical incident debriefing and adolescent struggles.

I am committed to professional development and accountability, and also to providing a quality service through continuing education, skills development and supervision.

I am an avid believer that a person’s ability to live in the present, rather than the past or future, is the key to a harmonious life.

When not at work, I love hiking in the bush, cooking healthy food and finding new ways to lie on the couch without spilling a cup of tea.

I live with my husband, who is also my best friend. We have a son who has grown into an amazing young man, and also a miniature dachshund, who refuses to grow up.


  • GDipSc(Psyc) Victoria University
  • BSW University of Western Australia
  • BA Victoria University
  • Member ANZASW, Associate Member AMINZ (FDR List)


Successful Separation: A guide for separating parents is a common-sense, no-frills approach to what to do – and not do – during separation. Available from Amazon as an e-book here.

Make an appointment

Weekdays 9am-5pm

Workshops and seminars by arrangement

Office in Wellington CBD

  • Counselling and coaching

  • Mediation

    (See the Ministry of Justice website www.justice.govt.nz for funding eligibility)

Cancellation: there is no charge if a minimum of 24 hours' notice is given. Otherwise, a half-hour fee is charged

Email: steph@themarriagegarage.com