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The Gottman Method Approach

Dr Karin uses the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy that is based on Dr. John Gottman’s research - begun in the 1970’s and still continues to this day. The research focused on what makes relationships succeed or fail. From this research, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have created a method of therapy that emphasises a “nuts-and-bolts” approach to improving couples' relationships.

 

This Method is designed to help teach specific tools to deepen friendship and intimacy in your relationship. To help you productively manage conflicts, you will be given methods to manage “resolvable problems” and dialogue about “gridlocked” or perpetual issues. We will also work together to help you appreciate your relationship’s strengths and to gently navigate through its vulnerabilities.

This method consists of five parts:

  1. Assessment

  2. Treatment

  3. "Phasing out" of therapy

  4. Termination

  5. Outcome evaluation

Assessment. The first session is with you both as a couple. Everything between us is confidential, but it is important to note that we do not keep secrets between partners. You can have a look at the counselling agreement here. Early in the assessment phase (after your first session), you will be sent a link to an online Gottman questionnaire that will help Dr Karin better understand your relationship. Both of you will need to complete this for us to work together. In the first sessions we will talk about the history of your relationship, areas of concern, and goals for treatment.

In the next session, Dr Karin will meet with you individually to learn of your personal histories and to give each of you an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings. In the final session of assessment, she will share with you her recommendations for treatment and work to define mutually agreed upon goals for your couples counselling.

Treatment. Most of the counselling will involve sessions where you will be seen together as a couple. However, by exception there may be a few occasions when individual sessions are appropriate (both of you will need to be OK with this). To optimise our work and cement skills Dr Karin will give you exercises or activities to practice between sessions (i.e., homework).

 

The length of counselling will be determined by your specific needs and goals. In the course of counselling, we will establish points at which to evaluate your satisfaction and progress. Also, Dr Karin will encourage you to raise any questions that you have about counselling at any time. Note that service provision is limited to clients in Australia.

Most couples, particularly early on, are seen weekly to fortnightly. In the later stage of counselling, we will “phase out” or meet less frequently in order for you to test out new relationship skills and to prepare for termination of counselling. Although you may terminate counselling whenever you wish, it is most helpful to have at least one session together to summarise progress, define the work that remains, and say goodbye. 

 

Phasing out. In the outcome-evaluation phase, as per the Gottman Method, four follow-up sessions are planned: one after six months, one after 12 months, one after 18 months, and one after two years. These sessions have been shown through research to significantly decrease the chances of relapse into previous, unhelpful patterns. In addition, my commitment to providing the best counselling possible requires ongoing evaluation. The purpose of these follow-up sessions then will be to fine-tune any of your relationship skills, and to evaluate the effectiveness of counselling received.

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