Welcome to Issue 364 of Institute Inbrief
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Issue 364 // Institute Inbrief
Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to Edition 364 of Institute Inbrief. If you are in a long-term relationship, you may find yourself reminiscing about the past and asking yourself: what happened to the joy we used to feel in the honeymoon period? In this edition's featured article, we focus on this question, and numerous strategies to help rebuild your romantic intimacy.

Also in this edition:
  1. Australian Counselling Service (ACS)
  2. Counselling Immigrants in Australia: Context and Clinical Considerations
  3. EMDR: Background, Structure and Applications
  4. Strategies for Creating (or Destroying) Habits
  5. Quotations, Seminar Timetables & More!

Enjoy your reading!

Kind regards,

Sandra Poletto
CEO, Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors.

Diploma of Counselling
Join one of the most personally enriching careers.

There is no more rewarding way to help others than by providing emotional support that assists people get their lives back on track.

AIPC is the largest provider of counselling courses in the country. We have specialised in counsellor training for over 30 years. We have proudly helped over 55,000 people from 27 countries pursue their personal and career interests in counselling.

Our Diploma of Counselling is a journey of self-discovery, providing deep insight into why you think and behave as you do. And when you graduate, you will be extremely well prepared to pursue a career in counselling – employed or self-employed – enjoying our strong industry reputation and linkage.

As a Counsellor you will:
  1. Be truly passionate about what you do.
  2. Help people every day overcome challenges and lead better lives.
  3. Enjoy job security in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.
  4. Have the freedom of owning your own business.

Ready to start your Counselling journey, <<First Name>>?

Community Services Courses
Helping You Help Your Community
By gaining a qualification within the Community Services sector, you will be contributing to an industry that serves a very important purpose: to assist those with personal or relationship challenges. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping others overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. And there’s no better time to do that than now!

Diploma of Mental Healthlearn more
Gain knowledge and skills to provide services to those with mental health concerns.
Diploma of Financial Counsellinglearn more
Do you want to help others who are facing financial hardship?

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management)learn more
Join one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the country!
Diploma of Youth Worklearn more
Do you want to positively influence the next generation?

Bachelor of Human Services - learn more
A flexible and affordable alternative to traditional tertiary education.


Australian Counselling Service (ACS)
Access high quality, affordable mental health care.

AIPC’s clinical counselling division, Australian Counselling Service (ACS), provides high quality – and highly subsidised – counselling services.
ACS’s mission is to make quality mental health care services available to everyone. They achieve this by delivering quality care from just $49 per session.

You can book your first session here.

Rebuilding Romantic Intimacy

If you are in a long-term relationship, you may find yourself reminiscing about the past and asking yourself: what happened to the joy we used to feel in the honeymoon period? What happened to lying beside one another in bed, awash with peace and bliss whilst looking into each other’s eyes? Why don't we speak as freely and as excitedly as we used to? It sounds a bit sappy, but it is experiences like these that are the hallmarks of romantic intimacy. They are the result and the product of a true connection with a significant other - a self-sustaining cycle of adoration and appreciation. All too often, we get in the way of this cycle's natural tendency to sustain itself, and we find ourselves estranged from our partners. As this happens, you might also notice your mental wellbeing and general vivacity for life becoming compromised – this is no coincidence. 

Marnia Robinson, the author of Cupids Poisoned Arrow, points out that reclaiming our ability to closely bond with our partners is a fundamental component of overall life fulfillment. This article will provide information for partners who wish to deepen their connection and enhance their mental health, and for counselors who want to help clients who are in those circumstances.

Romance: An Introduction

Before we can move forward, it is worthwhile to reflect on what romantic intimacy actually is. It is a term that has existed for many centuries - but not in the way that we might use it today.

The term is derived from medieval French vernacular, and referred to verse narratives and ballads that generally involved adventures, passion, and other idealistic concepts; consider the art movement of romanticism, and how it was used to express the emotional and imaginative nature of the human condition. 

The word didn't refer to love until the seventeenth century when courtship, chivalry, and love affairs were assimilated into the concept. Boris Shipov, the author of The Theory of Romantic Love, hypothesizes that romantic love arose in this time period in response to the church's expectation of monogamy, and people's desire to copulate with those that were unavailable to them; it was a product of the contradiction between sexual desire and the morality of the society at the time. Romance felt dangerous, adventurous, and passionate.  

As time passed, the word 'romance' came to refer chiefly to courtly love; today, it is rarely used in other contexts. The current definition stands that romance is a feeling of strong attraction and affection for another person, and the courting behaviors that are undertaken in an expression of this. It has become a staple concept in the global zeitgeist (i.e. romantic-comedies, romance novels), reflecting that it is a common desire and motivation amongst humankind.

Here are three key components that are requisite for the maintenance of romantic intimacy:

1) A focus on the 'We'

When it comes to romantic relationships, the 'we' is more important than the 'I'. This means that when you think about your partner, you should be thinking about what they would like or need, rather than what you would like or need from them. Research into positive psychology has found that providing favors or services for others is more rewarding than seeking personal gains (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008). When you are with your partner, you should be thinking about ways in which your actions will make them feel good, and this in turn will bolster your own wellbeing. When you pursue what makes your partner happy, they will want to reciprocate the favor. It is this back and forth that sustains the cycle of adoration and appreciation.

2) Intimacy combines the physical and emotional

When it comes to romance there are two different types: emotional intimacy, which involves sharing thoughts and feelings, and physical intimacy, which involves engaging your bodies with one another. Emotional intimacy requires communication skills, whilst physical intimacy requires trust between partners; both are equally important for romantic intimacy to be maintained. Even though physical intimacy might be a more obvious avenue for immediate connection, it is actually the interaction of both of these types that contribute to genuine romantic intimacy. Consider the following: you have just been through a difficult day, and rather than talking about your feelings, your partner gives you a back rub - in this moment, you are made to feel relaxed and cared for. This experience is a momentary positive affective state that has arisen from physical intimacy (touch) and emotional intimacy (attending to their feelings) combining together in harmony.

3) Intimacy has an upwards trajectory

Finally, romantic intimacy needs to be propagated by people who actively pursue behaviors and mindsets that increase the overall levels of intimacy within their relationship. This means that partners need to be vigilant in building and maintaining intimacy. If this is not done, intimacy will slowly atrophy over time due to trying circumstances causing stressors that become difficult to manage. For example, if the two people in the relationship get into a fight, there may be a general sense that the issue will be resolved after time. However, if partners do not take care to repair the damage caused by this fight (for example, by apologising or offering gestures of forgiveness), resentment may build up over time, and intimacy may decline as a result. A downward trajectory of intimacy can also occur when life is too easy; partners might not actively pursue one another romantically because they are too comfortable with one another. In this scenario, partners need to renew their connection by doing new things together and finding new ways to learn about each other's needs.

The Benefits of Romantic Intimacy

Romance has been demonstrated to facilitate a range of positive outcomes including life satisfaction, relaxation, and mental health in the long term. It encompasses feelings of connectedness in relationships and in one's broader life. For example, studies have shown that romantic partners who are more satisfied in their relationships also report lower levels of anxiety and depression (Zaider et al., 2010).

Dr Michael Krychman, gynecologist and sexual health specialist, espouses the many physical and mental health benefits that romantic and sexual intimacy can offer us. One such benefit is a boost in oxytocin - the love hormone - which helps to lower anxiety, build trust, and facilitate a positive mood. In addition, Krychman has found that intimacy may affect your immune system and blood pressure, lessen chronic pain, and aid high-quality sleep. It has been found that those with healthy connections with their partners tend to live longer due to the positive physiological effects of intimacy (2020).

Why Romance Tends to Burnout

So, if romantic intimacy is beneficial for our health, how come the honeymoon phase tends to burn out after a few months? Well, it's mainly to do with dopamine. This neurotransmitter is released in response to novel and rewarding stimuli, and motivates us to seek that stimulus out again and again. Anthropologically, a new relationship is interpreted by our brains as a new and advantageous opportunity to mate and propagate our genes; the problem is that this effect tends to last for about 12 months (enough time to become impregnated and ensure the safety of the offspring for a while after birth). After this, our brains say "Well, that's done. Time to go and seek a new mate." The result of this is that we become less infatuated with our partners, more irritated and less satisfied with them, and generally less stimulated in their company (Robinson, 2010). We feel as though our needs are ceasing to be met, and we blame our partners for this, resulting in resentment and a decrease in trust - when in fact, it is merely a neurochemical trick. 

Dopamine operates in cycles of excesses and deficits - it has a 'what goes up must come down' principle to it. The higher the spike in dopamine, the more drastic the ensuing crash is likely to be. Since relationships are a novel and rewarding stimulus for the brain, their neurological effect could be compared to an amphetamine. Initially, these drugs are extremely efficient at producing dopamine in your brain, but as time goes on, it takes more and more of the drug to get the same effect; eventually, you reach your capacity, in which case, if you stop taking it, you will experience a dopamine deficit that is comparable to the excess received whilst taking it. This manifests in relationships because when couples start to lose interest in one another, they often decide to spice things up in the bedroom and elsewhere in order to keep the relationship novel and stimulating. This works for a while, but as mentioned, what goes up must come down.

How to Make Romance Last

What can we do about this? Stop being reliant on dopamine for relationship satisfaction, and start playing a new game. As mentioned earlier, oxytocin is our love hormone, and it bonds us to people in very powerful and lasting ways; it is what bonded us with our mothers when we were babies, it is what bonds us to our dearest friends, and sometimes even our favorite hobbies and belongings. 

Oxytocin is released abundantly when partners engage in certain bonding behaviours - actions that facilitate attachment, which can include affectionate touch, caregiving, grooming, and eye contact. These are things that we all do whilst in the honeymoon phase, but cease to maintain once that initial dopamine hit has subsided; this is one cause of intimacy dissolving. Research has shown that almost all durable monogamous relationships are rich in bonding behaviors, and the mental and physical health of those involved is bolstered in response to this (Krychman, 2020). Author and intimacy specialist Marnia Robinson compiled a list of bonding behaviors in her book Cupid's Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships. Some of these are as follows, and it is recommended that partners set aside dedicated periods of time to engage in these behaviours:
  1. Smiling, with eye contact
  2. Skin-to-skin contact
  3. Providing a service or treat without being asked
  4. Giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments
  5. Gazing into each other’s eyes
  6. Listening intently, and restating what you hear
  7. Forgiving or overlooking an error or thoughtless remark, past or present
  8. Preparing your partner something to eat
  9. Synchronised breathing
  10. Kissing with lips and tongues
  11. Cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso (works well on a couch, or pillows)
  12. Holding, or spooning, each other in stillness
  13. Wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
  14. Stroking with intent to comfort
  15. Massaging with intent to comfort, especially feet, shoulders, and head
  16. Hugging with intent to comfort
  17. Lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to the heartbeat
  18. Touching and sucking of nipples/breasts
  19. Gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with the intent to comfort rather than arouse
  20. Making time together at bedtime a priority
  21. Gentle intercourse

It is important whilst engaging with these bonding behaviors that they are not merely foreplay for sex; if the behaviors are goal-oriented towards sexual climax, then you are still riding the dopamine cycle, and this will inevitably burn out. The idea is that you should strive for feelings of mutual relaxation, feelings of safety and trust, and a release of tension.

Other Strategies for Rebuilding Intimacy

In addition to practicing the bonding behaviors outlined above, here are a selection of practical tips that can be enacted easily to maintain romantic intimacy in relationships:

Establish daily routines

Our brains need consistency in order to stay comfortable, and this is the major reason why we feel more upset when our routines are disrupted. We need to ensure that our daily lives are organized around each other, otherwise we will experience anxiety and irritability in the absence of that routine. If you have trouble developing new routines together, look at the previous behaviors listed above; you can use these to create an ongoing routine that provides consistency.

Be supportive

This is one of the most important things, especially for couples with children. One of the biggest reasons for a couple’s ability to grow close and stay close is their degree of empathy towards one another. No matter what our partner has said or done, if we can understand his or her perspective, and put ourselves in that person’s shoes, we can feel more connected to them. To maximize this effect, do not minimize your partner when you talk (e.g. “It’s not like you did it on purpose!”), but rather try to see things from their point of view (e.g. “I know it was frustrating for you; did you think about my feelings at all? Do you see why that might have hurt me?”).

Cuddle more

This is the easiest and most effective act of intimacy you can do. It may seem silly, but studies have shown that people who cuddle together when watching TV or reading a book actually report more satisfaction with their partners than those who do not cuddle (Levine, 2020). Cuddling is a very visceral experience, and when done thoughtfully, it can be excellent for bonding.

Be nice to each other

This is another very basic way to increase cohesion in a relationship; negativity will drive away your partner much faster than any positive behavior will bring him or her in.

Tell each other what you like about the other person

Even though we’re supposed to be objective, it is still good to give each other our positives. You can do this in a number of ways; for example, if you like your partner’s sense of humor or company, tell them. When you notice wonderful things about them - their eye color, how delightful they are, or their shoes - tell them! When your partner has complimented something about you, tell them how it makes you feel. This exercise will increase feelings of love and connection; when done over the long term, studies have shown that positive feedback can even increase physical attraction in couples (Cai et al., 2018).


Hopefully, you can see the importance and simplicity of maintaining intimacy in romantic relationships. It is simply a matter of not expecting your partner to be a source of absolute joy, excitement, and novelty all the time; but rather, bonding with them in meaningful and sustainable ways. Relationships will not always be fun - they will often require a lot of work, and it is a case of choosing who you would like to do that work with. You'll both be better off for it.

  1. Cai, J., Zheng, Y., Li, P., Ye, B., Liu, H., & Ge, L. (2018). The Effect of Romantic Relationships on the Evaluation of the Attractiveness of One’s Own Face. I-Perception, 9(2), 204166951876554. doi:10.1177/2041669518765542.
  2. Levine, B., Swan, S. H., Levine, B., Sullivan, K., Upham, B., Migala, J., . . . Pearson, C. (n.d.). Healthy Sex, Intimacy, and You. Retrieved from Website.
  3. Norton, M., Aknin, L., & Dunn, E. (2009). From wealth to well-being: Spending money on others promotes happiness. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e621092012-053.
  4. Robinson, M. (2009). Cupids poisoned arrow: From habit to harmony in sexual relationships. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  5. Shipov, B. (2019). The Theory of Romantic Love. Independent.
  6. Zaider, T. I., Heimberg, R. G., & Iida, M. (2010). Anxiety disorders and intimate relationships: A study of daily processes in couples. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119(1), 163-173. doi:10.1037/a0018473.
Counselling Immigrants in Australia

If you are a counsellor, you will always be faced with the challenge of counselling someone who comes from a different culture. So, what do you do if you feel you are unequipped to take these clients on? Will it be too difficult to work with someone who speaks a different language, or who comes from a vastly different culture? How can you be sure that you are giving them the assistance they require? Should we avoid these clients, or refer them elsewhere?

EMDR: Background, Structure and Applications

In this article, we explore what Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is, how it works, which conditions are being treated with it, and what’s involved in each of its eight phases. A companion piece offers a snapshot of research conducted so far, outlines the main effects the therapy induces, and notes the requirements for EMDR certification, should you decide that it would be a useful tool in your therapist’s arsenal of techniques. 


More articles: www.aipc.net.au/articles
MHA Credential Courses
Take a deep-dive with some of the world’s leading mental health & wellbeing experts. Learn new skills. Connect with peers. Earn a Digital Credential.

MHA Credential Courses are self-paced, deep-dive, content-rich (20+ hours of learning) programs led by internationally-renowned experts.

Each course is meticulously crafted and contains a range of learning resources including video lectures, peer-reviewed articles, case studies, workbooks, assessments, practical activities, and more. Credentials are 100% self-paced and accessible on-demand, so learners can start at any time and progress at their own pace.

Upon completion of an MHA Credential Course, you are issued with an MHA Digital Badge (an internationally-verifiable digital credential) and a professional development (CPD) Certificate of Attainment.
Currently offered MHA Credential Courses include:
  1. Disaster Mental Health Counselling
  2. Applied Positive Psychology: Finding Mastery & Flourishing
  3. Science and Practice of Wellbeing
  4. Evidence-based Parenting: Raising Children to Thrive

Have you visited Counselling Connection yet? Our official blog has over 500 posts counselling, psychology, self-growth, and more! Make sure you too get connected. Below is a link to one of our popular blog posts.

Strategies for Creating (or Destroying) Habits

In a previous article, we defined habits, looked at how they are formed (through the lens of Duhigg’s and Clear’s models), and then outlined the science behind them. According to James Clear’s Four Laws of Behaviour Change (2018), there are four steps to establishing a habit: cue, craving, routine, reward (Clear, 2018). This article is about how we turn the above steps into practical actions/advice that can help clients not only alter the way they do things, but also make the changes stick.


More posts: www.counsellingconnection.com
"When rain falls, it flows downhill. If desired, you can collect the rain in a bucket and carry it uphill, but the natural tendency of water is to flow toward the lowest point. Most situations in life have a tendency—a direction in which things want to flow. You can choose to go against the flow (just as you can choose to carry water uphill), but your results tend to be better when you find a way to work with the gradient of the situation. Position yourself to benefit from the external forces at hand and you will get more from the same unit of effort. Energy is conserved and results are multiplied."

~ James Clear
Many students of the Diploma of Counselling attend seminars to complete the practical requirements of their course. Seminars provide an ideal opportunity to network with other students and liaise with qualified counselling professionals in conjunction with completing compulsory coursework.
Seminar topics include:
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  7. Brief Interventions and Loss & Grief Support
  8. Individualised Support and Working with Mental Health
  9. Advanced Counselling Techniques

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