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The Short Version: It’s not easy to face the fact that you may have contributed to your partner’s affair or breach of trust. It’s much easier to blame the other person for his or her behavior. South African Relationship Coach Paula Quinsee understands both sides of the equation. Using her own experience — and her training in Imago Therapy — she counsels singles and couples to take control of their lives through personal responsibility. Along with providing comprehensive online tools, Paula actively works with corporations to improve team dynamics and manage, skills that help both in the office and at home.
Intimacy issues are common in long-term relationships. Lust in the bedroom early in a relationship can steadily evolve into a partnership that revolves around dishes, groceries, and raising children — and things can quickly get stale. One person may be interested while the other isn’t, which can lead to resentment and further isolation — even outside the bedroom.
One couple living in South Africa visited Certified Relationship Coach Paula Quinsee with serious intimacy issues. It was so bad that the woman was ready to throw in the towel, but the man wanted it to work. As they met with Paula, they discovered that the problems were something different altogether.
“Once they unpacked what was going on, they found the issue was a lot deeper and included a lot of traumatic incidents that she had experienced in childhood,” Paula said. “Since then, their relationship has become stronger than ever.”
Paula used Imago Relationship Therapy techniques to help the couple. Imago Therapy involves helping people focus on how they contributed to the difficulties in the relationship, rather than blaming the other person.
She uses Imago Therapy throughout her practice and incorporates it into her extensive professional training portfolio. Paula has also created free tools for couples to use at home to rebuild their relationships.
In 2006, Paula was in a relationship that hit rock bottom. While attending therapy, their counselor recommended they attend a weekend couples retreat that used Imago Relationship Therapy.
“I was absolutely blown away by the impact that Imago Therapy had on me. I decided I wanted to teach this technique to people because life is too short to be miserable in our relationships,” Paula said. “It didn’t save my relationship at the time, one of the main reasons being I was blaming my partner for everything that had gone wrong because he had an affair. But then I had to look in the mirror and ask, ‘Hw did I co-create this?’”
Paula saw the exercise as beneficial because it helped her reflect on her own actions and hold herself accountable for adding to the relationship’s toxicity.
“I’m not condoning his behavior by any means, but I need to take responsibility for my contribution to the situation,” Paula said. “That was quite a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but it was an amazing insight, and I still use it to this day.”
She uses the skills she acquired in Imago Therapy training in 2009 to help others find their breakthroughs. When she first started her practice, she worked part time as a relationship coach while keeping a job in the corporate world. About four years ago, Paula began helping couples at her practice full time.
Paula describes herself as an empathetic listener who is also solution-focused. It’s a style that works for both couples and singles.
“I tune in to where the person is at that time, what is frustrating them, and read the dynamic of the relationship. Then I help them find a way forward, which is usually the middle ground between the two if I’m working with a couple.”
She wants her clients to come away with actionable advice on how to change their actions when facing a difficult situation.
“If I’m working with someone who has gone through a divorce or a breakup, I help them understand what went wrong, how they contributed to it, and what they can do differently next time to have more success,” Paula said.
Many of Paula’s clients own their own businesses or are in the corporate world — which she is familiar with. They are often ready to grow personally so they can improve both their romantic and professional relationships.
In addition to in-person sessions in her South Africa office, Paula organizes a variety of workshops and courses for singles, couples, and corporations. One of her most popular workshops is called Building Relationships.
“It’s a half-day workshop geared toward singles and couples, and it’s the basis of Imago Relationship Therapy. It helps individuals understand how your upbringing shapes who you become as an individual,” Paula said. “We discuss the blueprint we create in our minds for what love and relationships should look like, and then how we forge relationships with other people based on that conditioning.”
She also runs programs designed both for men and for women, with small-group master classes that meet every two weeks. She started with the men’s program, which includes working on values, personal and professional relationships, goals, and work-life balance. Many of the men in the group requested that she add a women’s version so their partners could benefit, as well. The programs were also featured on South African TV.
“Women have book clubs, friends, and networking forums, but the men wanted their partners to get the same information they were getting,” Paula said. “I kicked it off at the beginning of 2017, and the program has seen a lot of success.”
Paula also adapted those workshops for the corporate realm, where it’s less about personal goals and romantic relationships and more about team dynamics, conflict management, and relationship building. Corporate workshops help workers set goals and teach them how to find fulfillment in contributing to the organization’s vision.
Paula is planning a global expansion as the next phase of her practice and, as a first step, has added free tools to her website. She offers a Personal Development Assessment (PDA), which gives visitors insights into their core behavior competencies and shows them how they can develop through a six-week online coaching program. The free assessment can benefit individuals interested in their own personal development and can also be used to develop individuals and teams in the corporate world.
Couples who have questions about how they’re doing can use a Paula’s Relationship Evaluation Tool. After the assessment, couples can choose to work with Paula online or use the self-study options they can complete from anywhere in the world.
“I want to teach people to make shifts in their lives to help them get where they want to be. I am a source of support and strength in those moments. How do you leave a lasting positive change and impact? You help as many people in as many ways as possible — throughout the world.” — Paula Quinsee, Relationship Expert
“I am looking to have a positive impact on people’s lives no matter where they live, so I’ve taken my programs online. You have to meet people where they are in the digital world, and some people choose self-study online,” Paula said. “I want to be a source of support, information, tools, skills, and motivation.”
She’s also written books, including the popular “Embracing Conflict.” As a result, Paula has been a guest on TV shows, podcasts, and has been interviewed for many news articles. She was also a consultant for the show “Married At First Sight” in South Africa. Her mission is to help as many people as she can.
“I want to teach people to make shifts in their lives to help them get where they want to be,” Paula said. “I am a source of support and strength in those moments. How do you leave a lasting positive change and impact? You help as many people in as many ways as possible — throughout the world.”