The therapist

My husband and I are high school sweethearts and are together for almost 34 years. We opened our relationship around 10 years ago. We have three kids, who don’t know about our relationship, and we prefer to keep it like that. The questions will come when they are ready, until that day, I work anonymously. Rhea Darens is a pseudonym.

As a therapist I’m practical, loving person with humour. EFT is a practical method, so it really suites me. I will lead you through the process but you will decide the pace. And it’s a beautiful adventure discovering yourself, your partner and your relationship on a different level.

I have a college degree and my background was operational and project management in large organisations. Half a year after opening the relationship, we tumbled in a deep relationship crisis, seeked help, and we were told, that relationship counselling was not possible unless other partners/lovers were banned. We couldn’t do that.  Despite the lack of understanding and the judgemental approach from the therapist, my husband and I managed to sail through this storm. It deepened our relationship. It also resulted in a career switch.

I started studying Psychology and have just handed in my thesis for my bachelor. In the mean time I discovered Emotionally Focused Therapy and two years later I became an EFT relationship therapist for couples in an open relationship. A year later I started seeing monogamous couples too. Resulting in an interesting mix of couples: 1/3 monogamous, 1/3 cheated, 1/3 had an open relationship. When my lover, who was the reason that we opened the relationship, died after six years, we tumbled in our second even worse relationship crisis. We didn’t see this coming. After six years we thought we mastered having an open relationship. We were wrong. This time my husband and I went in therapy individually. We also managed to sail through this crisis. Now, looking back, we realize it has brought us again closer together than before. We still fear the storms, but we know by now that we have learned how to sail.

I began writing a book for couples and relationship counsellors called “An open relationship is not for pussies” that got published in Antwerp in 2019 (in Dutch). I am having it translated now.

Also in 2019 I conducted explorative research on the open relationship couples I had had, with the informal and occasional help from a professor at the University of Amsterdam, discovering that 73% of the couples in an open relationship were still together when they left my practise. This equals the percentage of monogamous couples. It proves that a non-monogamous relationship does not have to be a contra-indication, as long as it is consensual.

In October 2019 I was allowed to give a lecture for my fellow EFT-relationship counsellors in the Netherlands. A big day, as EFT disapproves of non-monogamy.

When we needed professional relationship counselling it wasn’t there and I know how tough it was. It has been the reason to become a counsellor myself. And with great pleasure. I’m now a senior in my field and yet still a student when it comes to this subject. A delightful combination.

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