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Techniques Used in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy

Techniques Used in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy

Flourish Psychology is a private practice in Brooklyn that offers couples therapy services, available for couples in any stage in their relationship. Part of identifying the best way to heal and grow your relationship is to determine what approach is most likely to provide you with the greatest benefit.

We believe that every couple is unique, and – rather than adhere to one strict and rigid approach – we try to find out what solution makes the most sense for you both in your marriage or partnership.

The Gottman Method

One of the techniques that we may deploy is known as the Gottman Method. It is a popular, extensively researched couples therapy approach that integrates many different techniques to rebuild a relationship.

There are many tenants the Gottman Method, but the simplest way to understand this approach is that it identifies signs of a struggling relationship through specific behaviors (criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt) that are often identified within therapy, and then tries to address those through a series of techniques designed around rebuilding love, affection, trust, and communication – known as the “Sound Relationship House Theory.”

The Gottman Method is also a conflict resolution technique, and designed to help reduce issues with perpetual conflict.

What Are Some Gottman Method Therapy Techniques?

Like most forms of both therapy and couples counseling, the Gottman Method is not one single technique but a series of different strategies that the couple will do together. The Gottman Method is also actionable – meaning, there are specific tasks that the couples are expected to complete. Some forms of couples counseling are more about thoughts, feelings, and understandings, but the Gottman Method has specific tasks for each couple.

Examples of these techniques include:

  • Creating Love Maps – Love Maps involve creating connections and mental space in your mind for all the details of your partner, like who they are, their life history, their experiences, their traumas, their goals, and even specific things like their opinions and quirks. The goal is to know your partner intimately enough that they are almost like a part of you.
  • Learning to “Turn Towards” – Within relationships, partners often seek out love and affection from their partner. It’s not uncommon in struggling relationships for the other partner to ignore this need or not realize what is being asked of them. This technique helps the couple respond in a healthier way when their partner needs them.
  • Share Fondness and Admiration – One unhealthy habit that couples can fall into is forgetting to emphasize and share their positive views of their partner, especially if the relationship has created more toxic communication habits. This technique makes it easier to share positive traits within a setting where the counselor can guide healthy interactions.

The Gottman Method is extensive, and there are far more techniques that may be used, such as conflict resolution strategies, self-soothing, creating shared meaning, and more. What is ultimately used depends on where you are as a couple and what we see is the best way to help you achieve a long lasting relationship.

Gottman Therapists in NYC with Flourish Psychology

The Gottman Method is an outstanding approach to couples therapy, and we have helped many couples find greater strength in their relationship through this methodology. But it is also only one approach of many, and sometimes, it helps to know you as a couple to determine what therapy is best. Please schedule a time to speak about your relationship, and let’s help determine what will be the best way to provide you with a stronger, longer lasting partnership.

Anxiety, Depression, and Couples Counseling – How Individual Mental Health Issues Can Be Affecting Your Relationship

Anxiety, Depression, and Couples Counseling – How Individual Mental Health Issues Can Be Affecting Your Relationship

Mental health is complicated. Relationships are also complicated. Sometimes, we are able to identify when we need help for one problem or the other. When we struggle with anxiety, we may seek out an anxiety therapist. When our relationships struggle, we may seek out a couples counselor. But, often, we do not always recognize the way that both can affect each other.

Individual or Couples Therapy?

Mental health can affect relationships and vice versa. For example, if someone within a relationship is struggling with issues related to anxiety and depression, it is likely to affect their relationship:

  • They may be more irritable, and more prone to conversational issues.
  • They may not lose some of their passion or willingness to try.
  • They may not be as social, or have trouble socially.
  • They may get overwhelmed easily or struggle to problem solve in a healthy way.

When one individual in the relationship is struggling with their mental health, the couples is often less intimate, less loving, and less likely to be able to handle conflict.

Similarly, our relationships have a direct effect on our stress levels and mental health. When a relationship is struggling, we may suffer from ongoing and persistent stress that can make us feel more anxious, more depressed, and more overwhelmed by other issues that happen throughout the day.

While we often try to identify as having one issue or the other, both mental health and relationships are not always so easily categorized. That is why it is so important for a therapist to get to know YOU. When someone really sees you and understands you, that’s how they can help you with your quality of life.

Identifying the Cause of a Mental Health Challenge to Treat it

Flourish Psychology, a private practice in NYC, offers both couples counseling and individual therapy to help patients and their partners get the help they need. We can schedule a consult for either one or both of you, talk to you about the struggles you’ve been having, and try to identify what approach to treatment and recovery makes the most sense for helping you improve every component of your life.

We also can treat your relationship issues as an individual. We can talk to you about your struggles within the relationship, see if there are ways we can guide you forward, and ensure that you’re receiving the individual care that you deserve.

Contact us today to learn more.

Couples Therapy vs. Couples Counseling – Is There a Difference?

Couples Therapy vs. Couples Counseling – Is There a Difference?

It is important to have as healthy a relationship as possible. That is why so many partners seek out therapists that specialize in enhancing and growing relationships. Couples therapists, like our team here at Flourish Psychology, create a comfortable space for both partners to talk about their needs, desires, hopes, and goals, in order to be better understood and put on a path toward strengthening the relationship.

Within this field, you’ll often see several different terms used to describe this process:

  • Couples Counseling
  • Couples Therapy
  • Relationship Counseling
  • Relationship Therapy
  • Marriage Counseling
  • Marriage Therapy

You want what is best for your relationship, so it’s not uncommon to find yourself unsure about the differences between these services and which one is best for you.

Language with Distinctive Definitions

Luckily, for the average couple, these terms have no distinctive meaning. They are used interchangeably to describe the same process – a type of therapy that revolves around your relationship in order to help you grow stronger as a couple. Most of the time, couples counseling vs couples therapy (and most variations) refer to the same thing, and you’ll often find them used to describe the same process.

However, it should be noted that the word choice may have implications for the type of therapy and approach, particularly the choice between “counseling” and “therapy.”

Relationship Counseling and Relationship Therapy

When we use a phrase like “couples counseling,” we are talking about the idea of receiving guidance and feedback from a trained therapist that can help you grow your relationship. Couples therapy, while used in similar situations, tends to imply a more structured type of approach, typically provided by an experienced psychologist that has been trained specifically in effective modalities.

However, since all couples are different, a structured approach is not always best for every situation, in which case a less structured couples counseling may be used instead.

Contact Flourish Psychology for Relationship Help and Support

Most of the time, the terms couples therapy and couples counseling are used interchangeably to refer to the same or a similar process. However, relationship therapy has been extensively researched, and there are structured approaches that therapists – especially clinical psychologists – may use to help address your relationship struggles and concerns. No matter the term, our therapists at Flourish Psychology are available to support you and your relationship, helping it grow and giving you the tools you need to move forward. Learn more about our relationship counseling or get started by calling Flourish Psychology, today.

Can Having a Child Save a Struggling Relationship?

Can Having a Child Save a Struggling Relationship?

It is stressful to feel like your relationship is struggling. It is even more stressful to not know what you can do to help fix it. Sometimes, that stress leads to desperation. One way that couples try to solve their relationship issues is by choosing to have a baby. The idea is that bringing a child into the world will create something magical that will awaken a shared love as you watch after this new baby.

Will Having a Child Save Your Marriage?

Generally, this is not the type of question that can be given a “Yes/No” answer. There are likely some relationships that have been saved by bringing a child into the world, so a firm “no” is overstating the variability in relationships and personalities. 

However, in a general sense, having a child *in order to* save a relationship can be very risky. That is because:

  • Children Are Stressful – It is true that bringing a child into the world can enhance a strong relationship considerably. It is a joy that many couples share. But if a partnership is already experiencing some very heavy challenges, adding additional stress to those challenges can lead to further problems with less ability to solve them. 
  • Children Are Costly – Finances are the number one cause of stress in a relationship. If your finances are already a source of disconnect, a child is only going to make those challenges worse, which could lead to more arguments. 
  • Coparenting Requires Communication – Both partners are gong to want to parent differently. In order to make sure that there is harmony in the household with how you parent, you will need to make sure that you’re communicating effectively. Typically, a struggling couple is not communicating the way they need to, in which case coparenting can make it worse. 
  • Pregnancy Separates Couples Experiences – Both partners typically struggle to understand each other during pregnancy itself. One partner may not be able to empathize with the experience of the pregnant one or be able to show them they care, and the other may not feel well enough to meet their partner’s needs.
  • Having a Child Reduces Time for Physical/Emotional Intimacy – If you’re struggling with a lack of physical or emotional intimacy, it is not likely to improve with a child. It becomes more difficult to find time to connect, with a child taking up much of your alone time. 

In a marriage, two partners need to be able to talk, show and accept love, communicate in a healthy way, and find ways to overcome obstacles together in order to maintain intimacy and affection. If those are already struggles, bringing a new life into the world is unlikely to help and may make it worse.

Children Are Wonderful – But Not a Miracle Cure

It is possible for a child to reconnect two partners and strengthen their bond. But it also shouldn’t be something you assume will happen, or used to try to save a failing relationship. If you and your partner both want a child, but you also have your struggles, then it is always a good idea to consider couples counseling. 

Before having a child, couples counseling can strengthen your relationship and make it easier for you both to withstand the stresses of parenthood. After you have a baby, couples counseling can provide the guidance you need to maintain intimacy, show love, and make sure that you’re responding to each partner’s needs.

If you’re interested in NYC couples counseling, call Flourish Psychology today. We are a Brooklyn based boutique private practice that works with couples throughout New York to strengthen their marriages and support their mutual growth. Learn more or get started by filling out our online form.

Brooklyn Couples Therapy: Benefits of a Safe Space for Both Partners

Brooklyn Couples Therapy: Benefits of a Safe Space for Both Partners

Flourish Psychology provides couples therapy and couples counseling in Brooklyn, NY. We work with couples at all stages of their relationship, whether dating, married, or in a non-traditional partnership.

We also know that it can sometimes be difficult to get both partners interested in pursuing couples counseling. Even if both partners know they have to work on their relationship, or that they’re having problems, there is often at least one partner that is hesitant about couples therapy, or may not feel themselves to be ready about the process.

That is why one of the things we emphasize most is the idea of objectivity and fairness – of letting the couple know that we are here to listen to both partners, and see the entire relationship as an outsider from an objective lens. If you’ve been thinking about Brooklyn couples therapy, and you’d like to talk about it with your partner, it is always a good idea to emphasize the idea that this is a judgment-free space.

Creating a Safe Environment for Both Partners to Share

Part of our goal here at Flourish is to create a safe, judgment free space where both partners are free to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. No matter who is “at fault” for specific problems in the relationship, the truth is that a relationship is made up of two people, and both partners need to be able to be ready for personal change and growth.

That is why we create an environment where both partners:

  • Can speak without being interrupted.
  • Are encouraged to listen to what their partner is saying.
  • Provide alternative explanations and viewpoints.
  • Have someone to help them find better words.
  • Recognize each other’s strengths.

When a partnership is starting to struggle, it is often linked back to communication. What we do with our couples therapy services here at Flourish Psychology is we make sure that both partners have the ability to talk to each other openly, and without fear that they’re going to be interrupted or misunderstood.

One of the reasons that people are hesitant about couples counseling is because they’re used to experiencing blame, or used to discussions turning into arguments. That is exactly the reason that couples therapy is so valuable – it presents an opportunity to communicate without that fear.

Learning About Each Other – No Matter Where You Are

Couples counseling is an opportunity to learn more about your partner and yourself, all in a way that is mediated by our experienced therapists. If you are looking for a way to enhance your relationship, please contact Flourish Psychology, today.

What Does it Mean to “Walk on Eggshells?”

What Does it Mean to “Walk on Eggshells?”

Much of our communication in our relationships comes before we’ve said a single word. We often have conversations and arguments in our minds and expectations about how a specific experience will go if it doesn’t happen the way the partner expects.

In couples counseling, one of the phrases we hear most that relates to this is the feeling that you are “walking on eggshells.” This phrase can be incredibly revealing about the relationship, and a sign that there are communication issues that need to be addressed.

What is “Walking on Eggshells?”

The exact origin of the phrase “to walk on eggshells” is unknown. But when we use that phrase, we’re typically describing a situation where we feel if we make one wrong move, and if we’re not cautious, our partner is going to respond in a negative way.

For a marriage to get to a place where one or both partners feel they’re walking on eggshells, it typically means there have been communication issues for quite some time:

  • They may be quick to argue.
  • They may feel they are treated unfairly.
  • They may believe that their partner sees them as a failure.

Often, if at least one partner says they’re walking on eggshells, it can indicate a lot about the state of the relationship. Not only does it make it sounds as though at least one partner feels like there is a lot of criticism – it also means that the partner that feels they’re “on eggshells” is already upset at their partner for a slight that hasn’t happened yet.

What We Mean By Communication in Couples Counseling

“Communication” is an often misunderstood term in couples counseling. Many assume we’re talking only about what you both say to each other, and whether or not you talk about your problems. Communication is much more than that. It’s how you talk. It’s what you don’t say. It’s body language. It’s how you feel when you talk. It’s even about what you’re saying in your mind when your partner is not even in the room.

What we work on in NYC couples counseling is this idea that a marriage is made up of two people, both of whom are trying to figure out how to be understood by their partner. During couples counseling sessions, if a partner says that they feel they’re walking on eggshells, we may ask both of you questions about your tone, your eye contact, your frustration levels, and any factors that affect your ability to communicate.

We want to help you reach a point where you both can share your feelings and needs with each other, and know that you’re being heard. We also want you to be able to hear your partner, as there are often uncommunicated needs and feelings that lead to this “walking on eggshells” feeling. If you’d like to learn more about our Brooklyn couples therapy services, please call Flourish Psychology, today.