A psychotherapeutic retreat is taking place soon in the comfort and discretion of a property in the rolling hills at the backdrop of our bay. It features a long weekend of group, individual, and couple therapy, interspersed with swimming, horse riding, ballroom dance lessons, wining and dining – and well, hopefully, after-dinner sweet treats stretching all the way to breakfast in bed.
This is the novel proposal of qualified psychosexual and relationship therapist Fabio D’Apice, founder of WorkingThrough.co.uk, a clinic that specialises in relationships dynamics and in supporting couples and individuals who are struggling with their relationship or sexual life. His method involves not just traditional psychotherapy, but also the practical, intense, engaging fun approach of marrying work and play, so that couples and individuals can turn a dull day back to their heyday.
Fabio explains how group work in this retreat is an added bonus to his usual couple therapy sessions, as his clients can help each other by reciprocating honest advice about what’s hot and what’s not in their personal experiences, leading to constructive criticism, offering perspective, adjusting objectives, and identifying negative behaviour, as much as they could do in a traditional one-to-one session in front of the therapist.
Fabio typically holds two-to-one sessions in his cosy high-ceilinged clinic in the heart of Gibraltar, with lilac and indigo walls, warm wooden floors and comfortable armchairs where clients can relax when baring their feelings. He sits opposite them both, and listens thoroughly to their issues, sometimes prompting them, or one of them, with relevant questions, to encourage them to explore and verbalise their innermost feelings, other times pinpointing the issue and eliciting a solution, or at least acknowledgement of what the bone of contention is and how it can be tackled.
He approaches sexual health as the hotbed of all tensions within a couple.
He mostly approaches sexual health as the hotbed of all tensions within a couple, because this is mostly what clients contact him for. He digs into its psychological aspect, when prescription alone fails to fix it, or when there isn’t anything, or little, wrong medically, or the medical condition sparks from state of mind, whereas psychosexual therapy can successfully be part of the solution.
Most couples seek Working Through as the last chance before throwing the towel on their relationship, but a few seek therapy at the beginning, in order to develop it, grow together, and leave behind unhealthy habits or emotional residue they might have brought with them into the new relationship from previous ones, including their family of origin.
Fabio was born in Milan, but his ancestors hail from the Neapolitan town of Pompeii, with its archaeological compound. He has practised in London for several years before moving to Gibraltar six years ago, after some globetrotting, including a lengthy spell in Greece.
Originally a chemical engineer by university degree and training, Fabio discovered psychotherapy when he was head of a team for an oil and gas firm, and realised how the human side of his job (i.e., keeping employees happy and motivated) was paramount to the success of the team.
So he decided to pursue what someone in-the-know described as his gift to professional level, and train in psychoanalytic and systemic approach for individuals and groups. Eventually he switched careers, down the path of his intellectually fulfilling vocation.
Upon realisation that most anxiety and depression issues within the couple are rooted in a substratum of often unrecognised sexual misinformation, untold grudges, unshared doubt, hardwired preconceptions, and unrealistic expectations, Fabio shifted his interest towards this little explored field. This arena has so much potential for progress, and of course healing, especially in Gibraltar, where he feels that couples shun addressing mental sexual health, or fail to identify where the problem lies.
“Acknowledging that there is a problem takes a lot of courage and it is the first big step to a solution.”
“Don’t get me wrong: I admire and respect my clients’ bravery for showing here and share some of their most intimate conversations. Acknowledging that there is a problem takes a lot of courage and it is the first big step to a solution,” he says.
In his line of work, discretion is key, and he is very strict on boundaries and confidentiality. Clients can come to him without the awkwardness or preconception due to pre-acquaintance, but at the same time he’s been steeped in the local community long enough to be familiar with Gibraltar’s culture(s) and social interactions.
Indeed sex, and sex therapy, is cultural, and Fabio works closely with other counsellors and some religious leaders to tailor his therapy to the clients’ beliefs and values, and reach the most effective outcome possible.
Fabio welcomes LGBT+ clients to his clinic, as well as youngsters who are unsure about their sexuality and need help in finding it. And singles? Fabio welcomes them too, if they seek his support in dealing with loneliness or relationship failure, so that they can adjust their aim for the next one to be if not the last, at least a lasting one. “I am currently in the make of a retreat for single people struggling on the dating scene, which, with the advent of technology, has been deprived of the direct human touch.
Fabio can be contacted via workingthrough.co.uk or email [email protected]