What is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy helps you and your partner express your relationship needs, worries, or conflicts in a neutral and comfortable setting. Many couple’s issues are rooted in poor communication or strained connection, which often leads to marital conflict, sexual issues, infidelity or emotional withdrawal. Therapy helps to restore open communication and to recognize and release the negative emotions that are getting in the way of your relationship.

  1. Are you feeling distant or avoiding each other?
  2. Do you feel like roommates? Is the affection missing?
  3. Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells or tired of having the same fight?
  4. Have you contemplated divorce or splitting up but aren’t sure whether to stay or go?
  5. Has an emotional or physical affair affected the trust in the relationship?
  6. Are you needing to work on the quality of the sex and/or communication you have with your partner?

Couples counseling can help you break the cycle, find common ground, and renew your relationship.

Rebuilding Connection and Repairing Conflict

Wendy is passionate about partnering with clients to overcome uncertainty and ambivalence in their relationships and break free from destructive inner turmoil and negative interactions. She utilize s Gottman Couples Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to enhance awareness and effective communication, as well as emotional connection between partners. She works with couples to help each partner feel better understood, strengthen the respect and love they have for one another, learn to communicate more effectively and ask for what each partner needs.

Together, we will assess the relationship past and present to gain new understandings and develop a path for moving forward including:

  1. Modifying “gridlocked” conflict patterns
  2. Repairing past hurts and injuries
  3. Improving intimacy and communication
  4. Restoring trust and stability
  5. Getting back into a vibrant, passionate commitment with your partner (and yourself)

Overview of Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Couples who enter into Gottman Method Couples Therapy begin with an assessment process that informs the therapeutic framework and intervention.

A conjoint session, followed by individual interviews with each partner are conducted. Couples complete questionnaires and then receive detailed feedback on their relationship.

Therapeutic Framework
The couple and Wendy decide on the frequency and duration of the sessions.

Therapeutic Interventions
Interventions are designed to help couples strengthen their relationships in three primary areas: friendship, conflict management, and creation of shared meaning. Couples learn to replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Interventions designed to increase closeness and intimacy are used to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and create changes which enhances the couples shared goals. Relapse prevention is also addressed.

Goals and Principles of the Gottman Method

The goals of Gottman Method Couples Therapy are to disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect, and affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations, and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship. Drs. John and Julie Gottman developed nine components of healthy relationships known as The Sound Relationship House Theory.

Build Love Maps

How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?

Share Fondness and Admiration
The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)

Turn Towards Instead of Away
State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship.

The Positive Perspective
The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.

Manage Conflict
We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.

Make Life Dreams Come True
Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.

Create Shared Meaning
Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.

This is the state that occurs when a person knows that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with this person is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it). It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.

Couples struggling with f requent conflict and arguments, p oor communication, em otionally distanced couples on the verge of separation and s pecific problems such as sexual difficulties, infidelity, money, and parenting can experience improvement.

Even couples with “normal” levels of conflict may benefit from the Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Gottman-trained therapists aim to help couples build stronger relationships overall and healthier ways to cope with issues as they arise in the future.

Goals and Principles of Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling

Created by Dr. Sue Johnson, the well researched and statistically valid, Emotionally focused couples therapy , is an intervention based on scientific study of adult love and bonding processes in couples. It is designed to address distress in the intimate relationships of adults.  Couples seeking counseling to improve their relationships may find this method a beneficial approach, as it can help people better understand both their own emotional r esponses and those of significant people in their lives.

Attachment Th eory, the concept that people are made healthier by emotional contact and need to feel safe in their connections to others, helped guide the development of this approach. Emotionally focused therapy is based on the concept that distress in intimate relationships is often related to deeply rooted fears of abandonment, as an individual’s emotional response to these fears may be harmful to relationship partners and put strain on a relationship. When intimate partners are not able to meet each other’s emotional needs, they may become stuck in negative patterns of interaction driven by ineffective attempts to get each other to understand their emotions and related needs.

The theory behind emotionally focused therapy considers the key principle in conflict among couples to be insecurity in the attachment one has with one’s partner. This insecurity may mean partners find themselves concerned by questions such as “Do you really love me?” “Am I important to you?” “Are you committed to our relationship?” “Can I trust you?” and so on. Emotionally focused therapy can help people address attachment-related insecurities and learn how to interact with their romantic partners in more loving, responsive, and emotionally connected ways, which can result in a more secure attachment.

The stages and steps of emotionally focused therapy are outlined below:

Stage One: Cycle Deescalation

  • Step 1: Identify key issues of concern.
  • Step 2: Identify ways negative patterns of interaction increase conflict when key issues arise.
  • Step 3: The therapist assists in the identification of unacknowledged fears and negative emotions related to attachment underlying negative interaction patterns.
  • Step 4: The therapist reframes key issues for the couple in terms of negative patterns of interaction, underlying emotions and fears, and each individual’s attachment needs.

Stage Two: Changing Interaction Patterns

  • Step 5: Individuals are assisted in voicing both their attachment needs and deep emotions.
  • Step 6: Partners are coached in ways to express acceptance and compassion for a partner's attachment needs and deep emotions.
  • Step 7: Partners are coached in the expression of attachment needs and emotions while also learning ways to discuss those issues likely to cause conflict.

Stage Three: Consolidation and Integration

  • Step 8: The therapist coaches the couple in the use of new communication styles to talk about old problems and develop new solutions.
  • Step 9: The couple learns ways to use skills practiced in therapy outside of session and develops a plan to make new interaction patterns a consistent part of life after therapy.

Contact Wendy today to see if couples counseling is right for you.

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