top of page


Jeff Saunders – Professional Profile
  • I’ve been a couple, marriage and family counsellor and therapist for over thirty years, specializing in helping couples and individuals with a wide range of difficulties, especially with relationships and conflict management skills.

  • For the past twelve years, I’ve been using primarily EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) in which I’ve received regular training, in conjunction with a style I’ve developed myself, Integrative Relationship Therapy (IRT) which brings together a range of couples’ modalities. I have now begun training other counsellors and therapists in this IRT model.

Lucy & Jeff’s Wedding


  • The IRT model also helps couples appreciate how their relating style will affect their children and teaches them how to relate optimally with everyone in the family.

  • EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) and IRT (Integrated Relationship Therapy) are very powerful experiential models in which couples gain insight into how they’re interacting, how attachment styles can cause differences which lead to conflict, how their interactive cycle is affected by facets of these attachment styles, how repressed emotion must be expressed constructively and how structured communication can heal rifts, even deep-seated ones.

  • The role of empowerment is a key component of IRT, and the dynamics of power are rarely seen or understood in relationships but play a big part.

  • When couples present to me, I help them escape difficult interactive patterns by training them to see how attachment patterning, empowerment or disempowerment styles, reactive emotional patterns originating from long ago, and improved communication can enable them to escape the Conflict Cycle they usually get trapped in.

  • At times, infidelity rocks the relationship boat and can be especially distressing, for one or both partners. About 25% of my work is in helping couples heal from issues of broken trust.

  • 10-12 sessions are usually necessary, often spread out over several months. Normally the first 4 to 6 sessions are required to help couples de-escalate the tensions and arguments that keep them stuck. Of course, counselling duration is very dependent on how engrained the problems are and how willing each party is to work on creating a new life together – one where their dynamics are consciously created rather than unconsciously destructive. Some couples check in every month or so just to fine-tune their family dynamics!


Training and Teaching Background

  • My general counselling and psychotherapeutic training are extensive, so here is a brief summary. I completed a Masters in Guidance Counselling in the early 1990s after earlier training in Transactional Analysis and Gestalt. I have also received training in person-centered Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and qualified in psychotherapy and hypnotism by becoming a Master Practitioner in Neuro-linguistic Programming. I’m familiar with a number of other schools of therapy also, but mostly use the above modalities in my work.

  • My counselling and psychotherapy training followed fifteen years of teaching Social and Physical Sciences in high schools. I began my counselling career as a high school counsellor, working with adolescents in that capacity for about a decade.

  • I also offer supervision to colleagues, counsellor trainees, and from time to time, managers, health professionals and others.

  • Currently, as part of my private practice, I specialize in counselling couples and families who are struggling with relationship challenges. I first began this work in the late 1980s as a high school counsellor helping families, and have also taught many relationships courses since that time. These courses have offered relationships help and advice in an educational setting.

  • In order to spend more time writing, I ceased my role training counsellors at Vision College in Christchurch some 12 years ago. Whilst at Vision College I taught Marriage, Relationships and Family Systems, Personal & Professional Boundaries, Lifespan Human Development and Counselling Skills & Dynamics. The latter involved teaching generic counselling skills for working with individuals, couples, families or groups.

  • I marked Massey University ‘Couples and Family Counselling’ master's papers for a time, and in 1992 completed a one year course specializing in working with couples and family systems.

  • I get to practice these skills myself in my own relationships and marriage. I’m married to Lucy and have a step-daughter in her late twenties. I live on Aynsley Terrace beside the Heathcote River in Christchurch.

  • Over the years, I’ve offered relationships, couples, marriage and personal development courses to the public, although recently I have put these on hold whilst completing my second book, “The Successful Couples Recipe Book”.

  • My first book “The 12 Choices of Winners” was written for the personal development market and appealed to those coming for individual counselling.

bottom of page