At The Bondi Psychologist, one of our specialisations is couples’ counselling. Rachael Walden uses the Gottman Method of relationship counselling – a highly effective approach that is strongly backed by scientific studies.
Gottman Method Couples’ Therapy combines the knowledge and wisdom of almost four decades of research and clinical practice by the Gottman Institute. Through interventions and exercises, the Gottman Method helps you and your partner break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection and intimacy in your relationship. Gottman Method Couples’ Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically based therapy.
Gottman Method Couples’ Therapy was developed to help you and your partner to:
- Increase respect, affection and closeness
- Break through and resolve conflict when you feel stuck
- Generate greater understanding
- Keep conflict discussions calm and respectful.
What To Expect In Your Gottman Couples’ Therapy Sessions
First session – You and your partner
For your first appointment with your partner, we recommend that you book a longer session (80 minutes), so that everyone feels they have had sufficient time to talk and we can introduce some of the basic concepts of Gottman Method of Couples’ Therapy.
If you cannot do a longer session, a regular session (50 minutes) will do fine.
In that first session, your therapist will ask you some structured questions designed to gather a history of your relationship: the good times and times that were more difficult, a few questions about what you each consider to be a good relationship, and what the issues are now.
You will be introduced to The Sound Relationship House, The Four Horsemen, and the Gottman Relationship Checkup – all crucial aspects of the Gottman method.
The Gottman Relationship Checkup is an online questionnaire you each complete alone. Your responses give you and your therapist a snapshot of the strengths of the relationship and areas where more focus is required.
It asks A LOT of questions about all aspects of your relationship. You complete this in your own time at home and the results are sent to your therapist.
Second session: Individual therapy
After you have completed the questionnaire, you and your partner will then see your therapist for an individual session each (50 minutes) to go over the results. This is an important session where you can each build more of a relationship with your therapist, and tell your therapist anything else you feel is pertinent for them to know.
Third session and beyond: Couple therapy
After these individual sessions, you will return to couples’ sessions and your therapist will discuss a treatment plan with you and get started. There will almost certainly be some (quick, easy) homework given in this session if it hasn’t been given already.
From here, you and your partner will attend regular sessions on an ongoing basis.
Why The Gottman Method Works
Research shows that to make a relationship last, couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future.
If you’re like many couples, you and your partner argue in a way that inflicts pain on the other. Disagreements bring out meanness. Afterwards, you feel ashamed. This is not the person you believe yourself to be, and you have hurt the one you love. And yet next time you argue, you do it again.
On the flipside, you are also suffering. The pain you inflict is a result of the hurt you feel. The long-term cost of things said in the heat of the moment is a relationship characterised by criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.
Underneath, there is love. You just need to navigate your way back there.
The Gottman Method of relationship counselling allows you to replace your battlefield with a sanctuary. Remember how it felt to be on each other’s team? Even if you’ve never felt that way, you can move toward increased harmony. By rebuilding hope and positivity, learning to recognise and appreciate your partner’s expressions of love, and replacing combat with support, your relationship can heal and grow.
The Gottman Method for Healthy Relationships
Doctors John and Julie Gottman identified the following nine components of healthy relationships. Learn more about the Gottman Method here.
- Build love maps
- Share fondness and admiration
- Turn towards
- The positive perspective
- Manage conflict
- Make life dreams come true
- Create shared meaning