Couples therapy can be delivered in person or remotely. The focus is upon recovering a state of wellness in your relationship characterized by a deep level of friendship, skill in coming to effective compromises where both people feel heard, and confidence in authentically repairing missteps in real time. The goal is for all couples to be able to end therapy successfully and resume taking care of their own relationship! Obviously, many couples come to therapy after an extended period of difficulty and require some significant repair to their relationship under the supervision of a therapist. The Gottman Method is based upon decades of cutting-edge research by psychologists John and Julie Gottman exploring how couples fall apart and how they can re-unite successfully. The practical, results-based method that emerged begins with a joint couple's session outlining the history of the relationship and the onset of the current difficulties. The next step is for each member of the couple is seen separately in a second scheduled individual session to ascertain their point of view and personal history. Couples are also asked to complete a brief assessment by the Gottman Institute which can be extremely helpful in pinpointing difficulties and ensuring that the treatment plan, which is discussed in the joint session following the two individual meetings, provides an efficient and effective way to address each couple's needs. In therapy itself, couples typically wear a heart rate monitor on their finger so that states of distress that require an intervention to lower heart rates are easily identified.
The goal is for couples therapy to be primarily a positive experience despite the need to sometimes tackle difficult subjects. Therefore, the sessions are oriented so that the couples are talking directly to each other with the therapist guiding them, gently coaching them into soft and constructive dialogue. Most importantly, the therapist will interrupt at the first sign of criticism, contempt, stonewalling or other signs of defensiveness and guide the couple back into an effective discussion. Communicating effectively in a relationship is unfortunately not something that is taught very frequently in our culture. Many of us had poor or no models for how to do this complex activity. It's worth learning! So much good rides on the outcome!