Gottman Therapy, what we know about how to make relationships work...
For more than 40 years Dr John Gottman has been researching and writing in the field of relationship preservation and proving why some relationships can stand the test of time and some falter. John's work can accurately predict which relationships will survive and which will not work. His list of publications and the books he's published, are incredibly impressive. He's been publishing about making marriages work, since the 1970's. And then he decided to repartner and actually use his research practically in his own life.
He married Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman, who also has an impressive resume, with an amazing list workshop and couples therapy experience. Dr Julie Gottman has been a therapist throughout her illustrious career, and so her skills were in making the method work in her Practice. Together, John and Julie now lead the world in offering a therapy that is the gold standard in premarital counselling, ranks as the most referred therapy and has outstanding outcomes.
This therapy really appealed to me because it is so practical and do able. I've often found that one party wants to attend couples counselling and the other party may come along, because they want the relationship to continue. But if they are honest, they really didn't fancy attending couples counselling. But this couples counselling is different and is highly effective.
We are very pleased to now be able to add Gottman Therapy to our list of counselling styles. I attended the training in Denver and will use this approach in all of my couple appointments from now on. I also intend to continue my training in the method, as Gottman Therapy has advanced training in particular areas of group work and working with particular challenges.
My trainers were Don Cole and Carrie Cole, of Center for Relationship Wellness. They have been involved with the Gottman Institute for more than 15 years. Based in Houston, they travel widely to offer opportunities for professionals to train in this well researched approach. Not only have they trained me and offered me ongoing support, but I will continue to utilise their skills and experience as professional supervisors to ensure the highest standards of my relationship counselling.
Gottman Therapy is an ongoing process for professionals. One can train, as I have and then be qualified to practice. However, there is also the facility to continue to undertake higher levels of proficiency. It is intended that we will achieve certification in the future. Don Wyatt, will also undertake the training, as he is able to then co counsel in this field. Couples working in couples therapy, is a popular model in many Practices. We are hoping to offer that as soon as possible.
This is a field about which we feel passionately. Happy and healthy marriages take trust and committment and we plan to support others to have the best relationships that they can have.
What I love about Gottman Therapy is that it is structured and uses a formula, that has proven efficacy. I was nervous that it might make my work formal and stiff, because it is a specific practice and style, but that is not at all the case. Instead I found that it supported my work to be more succinct and tailored to the two people sitting in front of me. This amazing method has value added benefits to clients and counsellors alike. I'm really pleased that I am still able to build great rapport, share a joke, watch my clients with even greater skill and utilise everything that they bring to the session.
Don & Carrie have taught me well and even though this is a new style for me, I'm open to anything that supports couples to make their relationship better and stronger.
Obviously some couples aren't going to be able to make their relationship work. The sooner couples come for counselling, the better their chances. Most couples come to counselling at the point at which the relationship is in serious trouble. Prevention is much better than cure. But, we all know that when things are going well, you don't think of having counselling. However, even the best and happiest couples, can learn new skills and refine their interaction.
Gottman Therapy trained counsellors have access to a wonderful tool that makes a world of difference in assessing a relationship's health and future success. The Gottman Relationship Checkup. This tool really makes it easy to see the strengths and the areas that need a lot of effort and support. This clarifies the problem areas and allows the couple and the counsellor to work out strategies to improve day to day interaction and build a stronger foundation to help the relationship in the future. It can also predict irreconcilability. The Gottman Institute's research has shown that by examining the results of the Gottman Relationship Checkup, counsellors can develop a clear plan and make goals for each future appointment. The individual answers to the questionnaire in the check up are not shared, so that both partners can answer honestly, without fear of seeming disloyal or unkind, towards the other party. The answers are formulated into areas of strength and challenges and this assists the future direction of the sessions with the counsellor and the work to practise new skills at home.
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The Last Kiss
Just this morning my partner was leaving to do some shopping. We did as we always do, we kissed Goodbye. Nothing all that exciting about that. But it got me thinking about the quality of all of our interactions as couples, friends, parents and children.
What if that was the last kiss? Would you be happy with that last moment that you spent with that person? What if that person was you partner of many years and you kissed them as if they were nothing more than "your maiden aunt"? Is that the last kiss you want to remember or the last kiss you'd have them remember?
I'm not meaning to be morbid here. But let's face it, none of us know the future. Anything can happen, and we don't know when things might create a different tomorrow. As it happens this was not the last kiss, my partner came home safely with arms full of shopping to make our lives easier this week. But it did make me think about the quality of our goodbyes.
John Gottman talks about "a six second kiss", being "a kiss with potential"and I totally agree. Since I first heard of Gottman Therapy, and decided to delve into the literature, attended two levels of Gottman Therapy Training, participated in some workshopping and therapy and now plan to learn from the Gottman's directly, I know that Gottman Therapy is spot on! I no longer think of kisses as mere passing brushings of the lips of the people I love. I think of kisses as connections and promises of a future of loving.
When we first meet our special romantic someone, we cannot predict the course of our involvement. We may want to do that, but there are often twists, turns and inevitably changes along the way. Over time we change how we see this new someone. I believe I decided to love my partner. But I think that having kissed a lot of toads, I knew clearly what I wanted in my personal handsome frog. But lots of people don't make a conscious decision. Couples tell me that they did not decide, they just fell into a pattern. Other people found themselves in circumstances of needing to stay together due to other factors. Yet others were positive that this person was "the one" and were convinced of that for a considerable time. I've heard a lot of different versions of why couples became couples. In my case, we became a couple because we were incredibly compatible as friends and decided that that could be built into a sound long term romantic relationship. I am grateful every day for my partner, but it hasn't always been easy or smooth.
However, if today's kiss goodbye was the very last one, would I want that to be the lasting memory?
Gottman Therapy has taught us that we should think about the quality of our relationship and the quality of the moments that are added together to create our Shared Meaning. Just off to spend quality time together sharing our Fondness and Admiration.