Calgary Marriage Counselling and Therapy

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How The Gottman Method Helps in Couples Therapy

Melody Evans specializes in marriage and couples counselling. In addition to helping people deal with conflict, lack of communication, infidelity, betrayal, divorce, and separation, she assists with handling challenges related to money issues, co- parenting, extended family relationships and couples sex therapy.

Melody uses the Gottman method of couples counselling. What is the Gottman method? Developed by Drs. John and Julie Schwartz Gottman, the method relies on 40 years of scientific research about what causes the success and failure of marriages and uses this to deliver effective counselling to couples in need. The Gottmans’ research concluded that relationships last when couples become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes and dreams. The method teaches couples how to create the seven components of healthy relationships, which are outlined below.

The Sound Relationship House
The Sound Relationship House - Marriage Counselling Calgary

What couples will learn in therapy

1.  How to understand your partner’s inner psychology. Are you aware of the history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes that your partner is experiencing?

This is called the Love Map.

2. How to show fondness and admiration for one another; increase respect, affection, and closeness and gain an understanding of how to empathize with your partner and strengthen the expressions of appreciation and admiration.
3. How to state your needs, and become aware of attempts to create a connection, and respond when they feel misunderstood. Gottman believes that turning towards each other and focusing on small, everyday moments are the building blocks of any relationship.
4. How to maintain a positive perception of your partner, including problem-solving and repairing communication that has gone wrong. All marriages need these  “repair attempts” skills to survive and thrive.
5. How to manage conflict.  Conflict is natural in every relationship and has functional and positive aspects. But couples sometimes struggle with managing this conflict, including managing both physiology and psychology to deal with perpetual problems (the ones that never go away) and solvable problems (the ones that will). Couples will also learn how to keep conflict discussions calm and break through the gridlock to resolve conflict when they feel stuck.
6. How to make life dreams come true and create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk openly and honestly about hopes, values, convictions, and aspirations.
7.  How to understand important narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship and how to co- construct shared meaning to guide you through any life circumstance.
8. Trust means knowing that your partner always acts and thinks with your best interest in mind not just their own. In other words, trust is knowing that your partner “has your back”, which takes time and is built through moment by moment interactions.
9. Commitment: means believing, acting, and being with your partner on a lifelong journey, for better or for worse. It encompasses cherishing your partner, having gratitude for your partner, and being positive for your partner.

Gottman Couple’s Therapy: What to Expect in Sessions

Using the knowledge and wisdom gained from nearly forty years of studies and clinical practice, the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy helps couples break through challenges to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationship. The therapy is structured and goal-oriented, and interventions are based on empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s studies of more than 3,000 couples. What does this mean to you? We know the techniques that actually work to help couples achieve long-term happiness.

Tips & tools for healthy communication

Use “I” Statements. Stay away from using the word “you,” which is generally interpreted as a criticism and often causes people to become defensive.

Know when to stop. Couples and families tend to let arguments control them, rather than being in control of the argument. It’s important to take a break to calm down if needed. When we argue, we activate our body’s  stress response and we go into fight, flight or immobility. This is a process that researcher Dr. John Gottman calls DPA (Diffuse Physiological Arousal). A good trick when conflict gets too heated is to stop, take a break, and go suck on a Life Saver (example). It typically takes 20 minutes for your body to get out of DPA; by the time the candy has dissolved you will feel much calmer.

Practice empathy. This can be difficult when you’re upset with your loved one, but empathy is essential for healthy communication. Try to feel what your loved one may be feeling.

Avoid being persuasive. It’s  best to communicate understanding to your loved one rather than trying to problem solve or get them to see that you are right. Seek to understand before being understood.

Validate fears. Fear grows in the dark but dissipates in the light. Minimizing fear makes people feel alone causing them to either shut down or attack. Here are some examples of what not to say:

“Get over it!”

“Oh don’t worry”

“You’re just too sensitive”

Positive alternatives include:

“That sounds scary”

“Of course you’re upset. Can you tell me more about your concerns?”

” I am here for  you”

Love your partner the way they want to be loved, not the way you think they should be loved. These ideas are thoroughly described in The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts By Gary D.

Recommended Readings

Melody Evans, R., Psych, RMFT

FYI: Myths About Sex in Marriage
Ideas from the research of Dr. John Gottman
Couples Sex Therapy

Myth #1: Passion will never die if it is genuine

Wrong: In a long term relationship passion and romance does change.

How can therapy help? Couples can learn through therapy how to have intimate conversations to adapt to these changes and keep love alive.

Myth #2: Avoiding conflict encourages romance in your marriage.

Wrong: On the contrary learning to deal with conflict increases the passion and romance in your marriage.

How can therapy help? Most couples do not know that there are very specific skills that can be learned to deal with conflict in healthy ways. These skills can be learned in counselling.

Myth #3: Affectionate touching takes away from the erotic part of a marriage.

Wrong: Having lots of non-sexual affection, especially touch, can increase the romance in your partnership.

How can therapy help? Couples can learn how to create rituals of connection, which increase the connection and intimacy in relationships.


Contact Melody For Marriage and Couples Counselling in Calgary Today

Relationships can be difficult but I encourage people to not give up- there is hope. Call to book your appointment today (403) 808-9124.

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