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May Sahar Counsellor and Couples Therapist

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We are not fundamentally flawed or somehow ‘broken’ and in need of ‘fixing’. We are all a work in progress and have an innate potential to grow and change.

The Terrace (CBD) & Wilton
Monday to Friday
Evening appointments available
Individual Counselling by phone or Skype if it is difficult for you to access face to face counselling.

Contact NameMay Sahar
Address151 Wilton Road
North Island 6012
Mobile021 403 818
Email Make an Enquiry

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Why Are You Seeking Counselling/Therapy?

Do you want to have more joy and satisfaction in your life and get ‘unstuck’ from old patterns that are holding you back? Or has something more immediate happened that has thrown you off kilter and you’re not sure how to find your feet again?

There are hundreds of different reasons that people seek counselling and therapy. You might know clearly what the problem is or you might be grappling with the end result, not knowing how you got there, or what it means. Either way, if you are reading this, then you’ve decided you could use some help to figure things out or to work through what has happened.

What is the difference between Counselling and Therapy?

In theory, counselling addresses problems that are relatively amenable to change in short term work (up to 20 sessions), whereas therapy addresses longer-term issues, perhaps originating in your family of origin, that take more time to fully understand and change. But in practice, these often overlap. I think in-depth personal growth is invaluable, but I am also happy just to help someone get past a roadblock. I make it a priority to be available to former clients who want help with maintaining their gains under changed conditions, solving another problem, or taking the work to a deeper level.

How I Will Work with You

I will provide a confidential, emotionally safe environment where, together, we can examine the issues that you bring. I will guide you in reflecting on your life experience and your current distress so you can make sense of it. I offer my skilled support to help you develop effective tools for growth and change. Each person is a unique individual, and each couple has their own complexities, so effective counseling and therapy needs to be 'customized'. I encourage you to tell me what is helpful and what is not, and I adapt my methods to find the most useful approach for you.

I am trained as a Psychosynthesis counsellor. Psychosynthesis was developed by Dr Roberto Assagioli (1888 - 1974), who practiced as a psychiatrist in Florence, Italy. Assagioli emphasised that love, wisdom, creativity and will are all vital aspects of the human being. A basic premise of Psychosynthesis is that we all have a natural tendency towards growth and wholeness and removing the obstacles allows that process to unfold.

There is now a large body of brain science research that demonstrates that even brief periods of mindfulness meditation, when done regularly, brings about beneficial changes in the brain. Mindfulness does not require any particular spiritual or religious beliefs, or having the flexibility of a yogi! As a student of Mindfulness for over 25 years, I am able to integrate this into my work as appropriate to each person.

Is Your Relationship in Distress?

You and your partner can’t seem to agree on anything anymore. You fight about different things, but it feels like the same old argument. You don’t feel close anymore. You worry about the effect the conflict is having on your children. Sexual intimacy has become a battleground. You feel more like flat mates than life partners. You’re good friends, but where has the spark gone. You don’t know if you should stay or go. You are trying to recover from a breach of trust but you don’t know how.

Research now tells us that a secure and loving relationship has a positive impact on our emotional and physical health, making us better able to cope with all of life’s stressors. So it’s no wonder that when there is unhappiness, conflict, distance or insecurity in your relationship, you feel less able to cope in all the spheres of your life. Relationships are an ongoing work in progress; they need attention, time and care to keep them alive and flourishing. But you can easily get caught up in the busyness of life and your relationship gets taken for granted, or the difficulties get put in the ‘do it later’ basket because it feels too daunting.

How I Will Work With You and Your Partner

You may be at a point where you feel caught in a negative cycle of interacting that you can’t seem to break out of. You try to talk about a problem and only end up feeling worse, more bruised and misunderstood than when you started. You desperately want to be close but your partner feels out of reach. Couples often arrive at counselling wanting ‘problem solving’ strategies or for the counsellor to tell them who is wrong and who is right. But as you may have already discovered, these do not solve the problem. Gaining understanding into what is fuelling this cycle, and the deeper feelings and needs underlying it, can change the relationship dynamics in a deep and lasting way. Learning how to be open, attuned and responsive with each other builds a secure foundation and when you feel secure with each other and have no need for the armour of defensiveness, you can find solutions that will work for both of you, whatever the problem happens to be.

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)

My primary way of working with couples is Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy; EFT focuses on creating and strengthening the emotional bond between partners. EFT is recognized by the American Psychological Association as an empirically proven form of couple therapy. Rigorous studies during the past 15 years have shown that 70-75% of couples who go through EFT recover from distress, are happy in their relationships, and the results appear to be lasting! If you would like to read more about this approach you can do so in ‘Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love’ by Dr Sue Johnson. It is a very accessible and informative read, great to read together as a couple as well as on your own.
Affairs, Infidelities, Breeches of Trust

There are no easy ways to recover from these events, and sometimes the relationship may not be repairable. But it is often possible for the relationship to be rebuilt, for trust to be reestablished and to be able to go on with your lives. EFT is ideally suited to this process, because it aims to establish a secure bond for the couple relationship. EFT does not ignore the negative consequences such as deep hurt and betrayal, and it does not ignore the fact that people have responsibility for their actions. But ‘shaming and blaming’ either partner is unlikely to be helpful in coming to understand how you both got here. I provide a respectful and compassionate environment where I can help you both to understand what happened and to guide you in repairing your relationship, if that is what you wish to do.

Link to TED Talks:

Brene Brown on Vulnerability

Session Times and Fees

The Terrace (CBD) & Wilton
Monday to Friday
Evening appointments available
Individual Counselling by phone or Skype if it is difficult for you to access face to face counselling.

Clinic Location

Two days a week I work from Braemar House, Level 3, Suite 7, 32 The Terrace, right next door to St Andrews Church.

The other two days a week I am immediately opposite the Otari-Wilton Bush Reserve at 151 Wilton Road. There is a large paved area in front of the house where you are welcome to park. The downstairs front door, which has a green canopy above it, is the door into the clinic. Wilton Road is 10-15 minutes by car from the CBD. You can get to it a number of ways, either through Kelburn, through Wadestown or via Aro Street. Please ask me if you would like more detailed directions.

The First Session

It can be a little intimidating to come to counselling/therapy if you have never been before and it is important that you choose a therapist who feels like a good fit for you. The first session provides an opportunity for us to meet so that you can decide if you feel comfortable working with me and I can determine whether I have the right skills to help you with the particular issues you are bringing. At the end of the first session, I will check with you whether you wish to book further sessions. Please contact me by email, or phone if you would like to know more, book a session, or have a specific question I have not already addressed here.

If you are coming for Couples Therapy, I see you together for the first session, then I have one individual session with each of you, then we continue with the couples sessions.

Ongoing Sessions:

The number of sessions will be negotiated with you after an initial assessment period. Regular weekly sessions are preferable because this builds up some momentum and avoids too much of the time being taken up with reconnecting and catching up on what has been happening in your life in the interim, but fortnightly sessions can also be negotiated.


When you book a time and then need to change the time or date, would you please give me 48 hours notice (unless there is an emergency), or I will need to charge you for the session.

My Qualifications

I hold a BA (Psychology major), a Diploma of Counselling obtained from the Psychosynthesis Institute (Auckland), and have completed a three year course of psychotherapy training with the Institute of Transactional Analysis (Wellington).I was a counsellor at Relationships Aotearoa in Wellington for 2 years. I have completed training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to the level of Core Skills Advanced Training. I am a fully registered member of PAnzA (Psychosynthesis Aotearoa NZ & Australia Inc.), which has its own Code of Ethics and Complaints Procedures. and am currently in training as a Psychotherapist. Member of ICEEFT - the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.

My Background

I am a second generation Pakeha. Wellington has been my home, except for a few years in my early twenties when I lived and travelled overseas, one year of which was spent on a Kibbutz in Israel. I have two children, now young adults. I had a relationship of 25 years duration with my late husband. I have an ongoing interest in mindfulness meditation and Eastern philosophy and in how practices from these traditions may be used by Westerners, regardless of their spiritual tradition or beliefs, to foster self-awareness and personal growth.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves.
Do not seek the answers,
Which cannot be given
Because you would not be able
To live them.
The point is,
To live everything.

Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then
Without noticing it,
Live along some distant day
Into the answers. "

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Some Great Books To Read

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

By Dr Sue Johnson

Heralded by the New York Times and Time as the couple’s therapy with the highest rate of success, Emotionally Focused Therapy works because it views the love relationship as an attachment bond. This idea, once controversial, is now supported by science. In Hold Me Tight, Johnson teaches that the way to save and enrich a relationship is to re-establish safe emotional connection and preserve the attachment bond. With this in mind, she focuses on key moments in a relationship-from "Recognizing the Demon Dialogue" to "Revisiting a Rocky Moment" -- and uses them as touch points for seven healing conversations. Through case studies from her practice, illuminating advice, and practical exercises, couples will learn how to nurture their relationships and build a lifetime of love. (Adapted from Amazon Reviews)

Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships

By Dr Sue Johnson

A revolutionary new understanding of why and how we love, based on cutting-edge research. Every day, we hear of relationships failing and questions of whether humans are meant to be monogamous. Love Sense presents new scientific evidence that tells us that humans are meant to mate for life. Dr. Johnson explains that romantic love is an attachment bond, just like that between mother and child, and shows us how to develop our "love sense"--our ability to develop long-lasting relationships. Love is not the least bit illogical or random, but actually an ordered and wise recipe for survival. Love Sense covers the three stages of a relationship and how to best weather them; the intelligence of emotions and the logic of love; the physical and psychological benefits of secure love; and much more. Love Sense will change the way you think about love. (Adapted from Amazon Reviews)

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life

By Emily Nagoski Ph.D.

A New York Times Bestseller, and deservedly so. An in depth exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on the most recent research and brain science. Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never be the answer. But as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all.

The first lesson in this essential, transformative book by Dr. Emily Nagoski is that every woman has her own unique sexuality, like a fingerprint, and that women vary more than men in our anatomy, our sexual response mechanisms, and the way our bodies respond to the sexual world. So we never need to judge ourselves based on others’ experiences. Because women vary, and that’s normal.

Second lesson: sex happens in a context. And all the complications of everyday life influence the context surrounding a woman’s arousal, desire, and orgasm.

Cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines tells us that the most important factor for women in creating and sustaining a fulfilling sex life, is not what you do in bed or how you do it, but how you feel about it. Which means that stress, mood, trust, and body image are not peripheral factors in a woman’s sexual wellbeing; they are central to it. (Adapted from Amazon Reviews)

SexSmart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What to Do with It.

By Aline P. Zoldbrod Ph. D.

Whether your problem is lack of desire, difficulty with sexual functioning, sexual pain, sexual addiction, anxiety, sexual inhibition, or fear of sexuality altogether, your life growing up as a child in your family may be partly to blame. Fully a third of us grew up in homes where our sexual development was terribly derailed, due to alcoholism or drug abuse, mental illness, witnessing spousal abuse, experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or just plain neglect. For others of us, the family problems were so subtle we never recognized them. Sex Smart is the award-winning book praised by America's top sexologists as an essential guide for understanding your sexual self and solving your problems.

''Sex Smart is a wonderfully written, clear account of the many factors that shape and influence our sexual selves. Unlike most self-help books, which focus on aspects of sexual performance, Dr. Zoldbrod takes a broad, integrative view. With great skill and warmth, she weaves a tapestry of complex non-sexual events in our past that determine the ways in which we relate sexually. Complemented by rich clinical vignettes, her book will be welcomed by those wishing to understand the nuances and mysteries that contribute to our sexual being.''
--Derek C. Polonsky M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Adapted from Amazon Reviews)

Dancing With Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships

By John Amodeo, PhD

Winner of the 2014 Silver Independent Publisher Book Award in the relationship category and winner of the Spirituality and Practice Award as one of the best spiritual books of 2013. The search for inner peace is often met with what seems like a conflicting path - the irresistible pull of love and connection with others to which we are drawn. Reconciling these opposites, John Amodeo shows how spirituality and vibrant relationships are identical. He says that Buddha's concept of the root of suffering is misunderstood. It is not desire that causes suffering; desire is the fire that springs from the basic life force. Drawing upon the science of attachment theory, Amodeo illuminates how the root of our suffering is disconnection from ourselves and others, which is fuelled by clinging to what doesn't serve us.

In a conversational tone, Amodeo presents relationship as sacred experience. He teaches how to welcome desire mindfully rather than suppress it and how to overcome fear of failure in relating. He also discusses meditation as self-intimacy and holding ourselves with loving-kindness. Lastly, he explores the role of community in spiritual awakening and the issue of whom to trust--our guru or ourselves? (Adapted from Amazon Reviews)

After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful

By Janis A. Spring

This is extremely helpful reading for any couple who has experienced the violation of trust as a result of an affair. It addresses the experiences of both the betrayer and the betrayed, in a way that helps both people move forward from the initial shock and hurt. After the Affair offers proven strategies for surviving the crisis and rebuilding the relationship. Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., is a therapist and acknowledged expert on infidelity, and this revised and updated version brings this classic into the 21st century, with a new section dealing with online affairs in cyberspace. (Adapted from Amazon Reviews)

It’s Not You, It’s What Happened To You:
Complex Trauma And Treatment

Christine A. Courtois

I often see people in my practice who have no idea that the things they endured in their childhood have shaped them in ways that are causing ongoing problems in their adult lives. They think there is something fundamentally flawed or broken or inadequate in themselves, when in truth, they were forced to develop ways to cope in an adverse environment. The paradox is that these very essential coping strategies, when continued into adult life, can prevent the satisfaction and enjoyment they long for in their lives now.
A universally acknowledged leader in this emerging psychotherapeutic field, Dr. Courtois provides here an abbreviated (100 pages) and easy-to-read explanation of what complex trauma is, how it develops, the ways in which it manifests, and how it can effectively be dealt with.
The book opens with an explanation of trauma in general—providing historical perspective, examining the various types of traumatic experience, and looking in-depth at the chronic, repetitive, and layered forms of trauma that often build upon and reinforce one another to create complex trauma. Next Dr. Courtois discusses trauma-driven emotional turmoil, and trauma’s effects on memory, self-image, relationships, and even physical wellbeing. She then provides readers with a basic understanding of the ways in which complex trauma is diagnosed and assessed, with an explanation of all common trauma-related diagnoses—including stress disorders (such as PTSD), dissociative reactions and disorders, and frequently co-occurring issues (addictions, self-injury, sleep disorders, etc.)

The image on this page is a painting by the New Zealand artist Ian Hamlin (1986)

Service Categories
Counselling, EFT, Mens Health, Womens Health

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