What to expect from your couple therapy
sessions with Dr. Stephen Madigan

Award Winning Couples Counselling and Marriage Therapist in Vancouver

Approach to Therapy

Dr. Stephen Madigan’s highly respectful approach to therapy recognizes how couple’s bring their relationship to therapy with the hope of finding pathways to rescue, recover, and return to many of the foundational values (kindness, respect, love, humour, adventure, fairness) their relationship once experienced and lived through. His philosophy of therapy applies to both couple’s who intend to stay together or separate.

Stephen views expressions of relationship conflict (arguing, distance, anger, disrespect, sadness, resentment etc.) are often expressions of:

1) A way of protesting the need to return the couple’s intimate relationship back to its best ways of being (kindness, respect, love, etc.),

2) A grief response to a significant loss regarding how solid and happy the relationship use to feel,

3) The couples desire to recover the values they value most ( fairness, honesty, understanding, hope etc.) that have been lost because of the present expressions of conflict (arguing, distance, resentment, disrespect).

Stephen does not hold ‘expert’ opinions on whether the couple decides to repair the relationship or separate. He feels whatever path the couple decides on, it is important to restore respect, care, and fair-mindedness.

Relationships are Relational

Stephen believes couple relationships are relational and shaped by a myriad of other important relationships, responsibilities, expectations, and cultural obligations.

He helps the couple frame their intimate relationship within all the many influences their relationship is embedded within – such as relationships to work, children, family, friends, cultural beliefs, religion, social media, physical and social activities etc. (whew!)

The other relationships are certainly necessary and life fulfilling however, they will often pull the couple away from their ability to care for their relationship in terms of time, care, support, intimacy, and love.

Stephen helps modern couples understand the influence and pressures of never ending responsibilities, expectations, and obligations. He then helps the couple by constructing a map on how the wish to maintain and care for their intimate relationship.

Therefore, relational conflict is much more than a simple explanation that it’s just about how one or both them have individually failed. Much more.

And just so we are perfectly clear – therapists who simply send couples out for 3 hour weekly ‘date nights’ as a solution to the complexities involved with relational conflict – are clearly missing the point and wasting your time!


Dr. Stephen Madigan’s work with conflicted couple relationships is internationally recognized as highly respectful, highly effective, and a common sense non-pathologizing approach to couple therapy.

During the initial 90 minute therapy session Stephen centres the couple as the experts in their own relational lives. Unlike other therapeutic approaches, he is not simply problem focused on the partial story of the present conflict.

Instead, Stephen finds it helpful for couples to begin by helping help him get to know and understand the full story of the couple’s pre-problem history of relational competencies, beliefs, values, skills, preferences, treasured memories, love, intimacy, commitments, and relationship abilities.

Rediscovering, remembering, discussing, and appreciating a couple’s unique historical values assists them in the process of finding an emotional common ground to address the present conflict in their relationship.

All first session meetings are 90 minutes in length. Following the first session, sessions are 60 minutes.

If you are looking for high level and long lasting change book your appointment with Dr Stephen Madigan MSW, MSc., PH.d