gottman method couples therapy

There are many different types of couples and relationship therapy available. The type of couples counselling we will do together is called Gottman Method Couples Therapy. What attracted me to this particular type of therapy is that is it based on what successful couples do to maintain healthy relationships, rather than a theory or idea of what will work.

I have completed the live Level 1, 2 and 3 trainings in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and am on the Certification Track.  The Gottman Method integrates 40 years of scientific research on what makes relationships succeed or fail, into a practical “nuts-and-bolts” approach to improving couples’ relationships. I use the Gottman Method to provide couples counselling and marital therapy that is not only based on science, but also custom-tailored to your relationship.

“Relationships which work well lead to: healthier people who live longer and stronger; people who can cope better with adversity. Their well-being is higher.”

John Gottman

couples therapy – how does it work?

The process of Gottman Couples Therapy consists of five phases:

  1. Assessment
  2. Treatment
  3. Out of Therapy
  4. Termination
  5. Outcome Evaluation

Phase One: Assessment

In Gottman Couples Therapy, there is an assessment phase that will require you to take part in two interviews (first together, and then separately), fill out some questionnaires, and be videotaped talking about an area of disagreement for 10 minutes, during which we will use a finger pulse oximeter to measure your heart rates and percent of oxygen in your blood.

In my experience, most couples are eager to “get to work” right away, and this is completely understandable. Here, I ask you to consider the importance of assessment and evaluation from a medical perspective: How eager would you be to go into surgery before a specialist had examined you, completed blood-work analyses, formed a diagnosis, and planned the surgical procedure to be performed?

The assessment phase is crucial to successful intervention and therapy outcomes. Accordingly, genuine investment toward working in couples therapy must be made, and begins with a commitment to the assessment phase.

To learn more about the assessment phase, click through the slides below. 

Session One

Our first session is all about helping you to tell your own story as a couple, and most couples—not all—find this experience to be a lot of fun. We will talk about the history of your relationship, your areas of concern, and goals for treatment. I will also have a chance to get a basic idea of how you process conflict as a couple. At the end of this session I will send you a link to the Gottman Relationship Checkup. This is a series of questionnaires about your and your relaitonship – helping me to deeply understand where your relationship strengths and vulnerabilities.

Sessions Two and Three

In the next two sessions, I will meet with each of you individually for 45 – 60 minutes. These individual interviews may be scheduled back-to-back, or at completely separate times. In these individual sessions, I will get to learn a bit about your personal histories, families of origin, and also give each of you an opportunity to voice your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

Session Four

In the final session of assessment, we will review the results of your relationship questionnaires, my overall assessment of your relationship, and my initial impressions on the future of your relationship. Together, we will work to define mutually-agreed upon goals for your therapy.

Phase Two: Treatment

Most of our therapy work will involve sessions in which you will be seen together as a couple. However, there may be times when individual sessions are recommended. I may also give you specific exercises to practice between sessions.

The length of therapy will be determined by your specific needs and goals. We should have a basic idea of what to expect at the end of the third assessment session, but there are no guarantees on what new issues may be presented as your connection to one another grows closer and stronger.

A commitment to the best therapy possible requires ongoing evaluation of the methods used and client progress. In the course of therapy, we will establish points at which to evaluate your satisfaction and progress. Also, I will encourage you to raise any questions or concerns that you have about therapy at any time.

Phase Three: Application

In the later stages of therapy, we will begin to meet less frequently, in order for you to test your new relationship skills outside of our therapy sessions, and also to prepare for termination of couples therapy.

phase four: termination

Although you may terminate couples therapy whenever you wish, it is helpful to have a least one final session in which to summarise progress, define the work that remains, and say goodbye.

phase five: evalution

In the outcome evaluation phase, as per the Gottman Method, four follow-up sessions will be planned:

  • 6 Months
  • 12 Months
  • 18 Months
  • 2 Years

These follow-up sessions have been shown to decrease the chances of your relapse into previous, unhelpful patterns. The purpose of these follow-up sessions will be to fine-tune any of your relationship skills, if needed, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the therapy received.