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    The Gottman Method

    Couples Therapy

    I am passionate about working with couples from all backgrounds and walks of life. My dedicated training and experience have prepared me to work with a wide range of relational issues and degrees of relationship distress, from partners seeking a relationship tune-up to those stuck in long-term gridlock and negativity. 

    I am trained in the Gottman Method—the gold standard in couples therapy. This is the main road map for my work with couples, but I also integrate aspects of EFT, Collaborative Couples Therapy, Terry Real, Imago, IFS and/or trauma-informed therapies, depending on the needs of each partner and of the relationship. 

    My road map for couples therapy is based on Gottman’s Sound Relationship House theory (scroll down to read more about this theory). The theory put into practice looks something like this: 

    Phase 1*: Structured intake and treatment planning (typically 3-4 sessions).We need to understand where you are and where you want to go in order to create a useful road map to guide us in our work together. This phase is all about me getting to know each partner and the relationship, each partner completing online questionnaires, and developing a treatment plan together.

    Phase 2: Getting on the same page (typically 4-8 sessions). By the time most couples come to therapy together, they are struggling to communicate with each other and feeling pretty frustrated. This stage is all about helping you and your partner hit your own reset button, be safer emotionally for one another, and improve how you speak and listen to one another. In this phase, you will become more aware of negative patterns and more intentional about creating positive ones. To know your partner is to love your partner: if you have neglected your friendship, in this phase you will begin to nurture it with a greater sense of purpose and continue to do so throughout treatment and beyond. In this phase, you will likely begin to experience more positivity in and about the relationship. 

    Phase 3: Dig deeper: what are/were you fighting FOR? (typically 4-8 sessions). You already know what you’re fighting about. Sometimes it’s the same thing on repeat. Other times, it’s a different thing that still ends up feeling like the same old fight (or a familiar dancing around the conflict, if you are a couple that tends to avoid it). What is more interesting, important, and helpful to know about recurring, painful conflict is what you are each fighting FOR in that area of your life and about which you experience your partner as an opponent rather than an ally. By this phase of treatment, you will be ready to explore your patterns around conflict on a deeper emotional level, which is where lasting change really takes hold.

    Phase 4: What is the meaning you want for your life together? (typically 4-8 sessions). By this late phase of treatment, you will be better friends, be able to identify and support each other’s dreams, and have or be ready to plan rituals that are special and unique to you as a couple. At this point, you will work on becoming (more) intentional about defining who you are as a couple (and family, if you have children).With what shared meaning and purpose would you like to live out the rest of your life together? As part of this process, I will help you explore areas like: the roles you each carry out in/for the relationship, shared goals and values, symbols of your relationship, and the blended culture you create as a couple/family. 

    *Please be aware that phase one is the same for all couples, but phases 2 – 4 can vary, especially in length, depending on the relationship.

    Termination: Couples therapy ends when clients meet their treatment goals (one of which is to no longer need a couples therapist!). If both partners are committed to treatment and no new problems arise, then termination of therapy will coincide closely with the number of sessions outlined in the personalized treatment plan. Following termination of treatment, if couples ever get stuck on a new or old issue, maintenance appointments are an option.

    The Sound Relationship House Theory

    The Sound Relationship House Theory was developed by Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues at the Gottman Institute after decades of researching couples. The theory serves as a framework for therapists to help couples build strong, lasting connections.The following nine components form the “Sound Relationship House”, providing a roadmap for couples to cultivate and maintain a strong, supportive, and fulfilling relationship. To foster relationship satisfaction and longevity, this theory emphasizes emotional connection, mutual respect, effective communication, and shared goals.

    The Foundation/Lower Floors:

    1. Build Love Maps: This involves knowing your partner’s inner world, including their likes, dislikes, dreams, and worries. It’s about staying updated on their life and being genuinely interested in their experiences and what makes them tick.

    2. Share Fondness and Admiration: Expressing appreciation and respect for your partner is crucial. This includes noticing their positive qualities, celebrating their achievements, and expressing affection and fondness.

    3. Turn Towards Instead of Away: In everyday interactions, partners can either turn towards each other (acknowledge and respond to bids for attention, affection, or connection) or turn away (ignore or dismiss these bids). Turning towards fosters intimacy and connection.

    Middle Floors

    4. The Positive Perspective: This involves maintaining a positive view of yourpartner and the relationship, even during challenging times. It means giving yourpartner the benefit of the doubt and interpreting their actions in a positive light.

    5. Manage Conflict: Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but how they are managed is crucial. Effective conflict management involves listening to each other’s perspectives, staying calm, and working towards compromise and resolution.

    Upper Floors

    6. Make Life Dreams Come True: Supporting each other’s aspirations and dreamsis important for relationship satisfaction. This includes helping each other achievepersonal and shared goals.

    7. Create Shared Meaning: Building a shared sense of purpose and meaning inthe relationship strengthens its foundation. This can involve creating rituals, traditions, and goals together that reflect the values and aspirations of both partners.

    Load-bearing Walls

    8. Trust: Trust forms the basis of a strong relationship. It includes being reliable, honest, and maintaining fidelity. Trust is built over time through consistent actions and behaviors.

    9. Commitment: Commitment is the decision to stay in the relationship and work through challenges together. It involves prioritizing the relationship and investing time and effort into its growth and maintenance. For couples therapy to be effective for highly stressed relationships, both partners need to commit to closing the exits (e.g., not threatening to leave) for at least 6 months of treatment.