Relationship Institute Australasia

Counselling and
Professional Training

Many people have questions about what will happen at the workshop. We have collected the most common questions and answers for your information.

Question No 1 - Do we have to publicly share our private business?

Answer: No! Absolutely not. This workshop is focused on education and learning skills. We will share information about what research over the last 40 years tells us about what makes relationships work and then we will give you an activity to do with your partner. You and your partner will then find a quiet place to sit together to do the activity together in privacy.

Question No 2 - How many people will be at the workshop?

Answer - Workshop sizes vary considerably depending on where they are held. In major cities around 20 - 30 couples usually attend. In regional areas we generally see 10-15 couples register. Either way every couple has the same opportunities to learn new skills and have their questions answered over the weekend.

Question No 3 - How much of the 2 days is just listening to lectures?

Answer - The 2 days are split up into 8 - 90 minute sessions (roughly). In each session we begin by discussing different findings from the research of Dr John Gottman and then giving couples an activity to do to help them build the skills they need to be about to put those findings into action. Over half of the 2 days is focused on you and your partner working together to build new skills, new understanding, new ideas and new plans into making your relationship happier, closer and more satisfying.

Question No 4 - How effective is the workshop?

Answer - Attending an ASL Workshop is shown to have similar benefits to that of 6 months of relationship therapy, and 94% of participants who have attended, report positive results moving forward.

Question No 5 - Who attends the workshop?

Answer - ASL is designed for couples of all ages, professions, nationalities, religions, abilities and orientations, who are in a committed relationship with one another. If you are already enjoying a strong relationship, this workshop will provide you with tools and skills to further your friendship, intimacy and trust. If you are experiencing some challenge or distress right now, this 2 days can provide a road-map for repair and understanding between the two of you.

Question No 6 - Can we attend the workshop if we are not married?

Answer - Absolutely. This workshop is designed for all couples who are in a committed and long-term relationship. Whether you are dating, engaged, living together or married, we encourage EVERY couple to attend and learn skills that will last you a lifetime.

Question No 7 - Is the workshop appropriate for LGBTQ/same sex couples?

Answer - Yes! All couples and all genders are welcome. The Gottman Institute conducted a 12 year study on same-sex couples and concluded that all couples, irrespective of gender and orientation, were subject to many of the same challenges and trials as well as successes as heterosexual couples.

Question No 8 - How can I convince my partner to attend?

Answer - Good question. A good place to start is to share some of Dr John Gottman's research and videos with your partner. Another would be to read The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. This ‘easy-to-read' book will introduce you both to the principles that are taught in the workshop as well as being an Amazon Best Seller with over one million copies sold.

Question No 9 - Do we have to talk in front of the group?

Answer - At no time are you asked to interact with the group or with any of the other couples. All exercises are performed with your partner only and we always make sure there is enough space to ensure your privacy.

Question No 10 - Do we have to share our personal information with anyone at the workshop?

Answer - No. Your privacy is respected and you will not be required to share any personal information with other workshop participants.

Question No 11 - Will we be able to get some individual therapy?

Answer - Our workshops are not designed to accommodate individual therapy during the 2 days, however our presenters and rovers are Certified Gottman Therapists who are available to help couples to stay on track with the exercises and to provide guidance during the workshop. If you are still seeking individual therapy after the workshop, we can provide you with contacts for Gottman Trained Therapists in your area via our online Therapist Database

Question No 12 - Who will be presenting the workshop and what are their qualifications?

Answer - Our presenters are Trish Purnell-Webb and John Flanagan.

Trish is a Clinical Psychologist, a certified Gottman Marital Therapist, Master Trainer & Consultant for the Gottman Institute. Trish was the first person in Australia to become certified as a Gottman Therapist and is currently the only person in Australia to hold the title of Master Trainer and Consultant with the Gottman Institute. Trish has over 20 years experience working with couples and individuals in private practice.

John is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker. He holds a Masters in Gestalt Therapy and is also a certified Gottman Marital Therapist, the first social worker in Australia to become a Certified Gottman Therapist. John is also a certified Presenter for the Gottman Institute for the Art and Science of Love Couples Workshop and Level 1 and Level 2 Therapist training Workshops. John is an experienced therapist having worked with community organisations providing services to youths, military veterans and first responders as well as having private practice experience specialising in couples therapy over the last 10 years.

More information about our presenters can be found here -

Question No 13 - Does the cost include overnight accomodation?

Answer - The cost to attend includes the 2 day workshop, all official materials (couples take home toolkit), morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on both days. All travel and accommodation is additional and at your own expense and organisation. However we find it a great opportunity for most couples to enjoy a bit of a ‘weekend away’.

Question No 14 - How do we know if it will work for us?

Answer - Every couple and every situation is different. However we find that if you are both motivated to learn new skills and then implement these changes on a consistent basis, you could join the 94% of couples that report a positive shift in their relationship after completing the workshop.

For more information about what is covered go to…/couples-workshops/

Question No 15 - Give me 3 reasons why I should choose this workshop and not another?

Answer - 1. This workshop is based on science and has been developed from over 40 years of research.
2. Dr John Gottman has been recognised as one of the 10 most influential therapists of the past quarter century.
3. Thousands of participants have rated this workshop with a staggering 94% positive feedback rate and 86% report ongoing improvements in their couple satisfaction when surveyed 12 months and 3 year later.

Question No 16 - What happens after the workshop - is there any other support?

Answer - We have set up a private Couples Support Facebook Page that you will be invited to join to get tips and ideas for continuing your development and growth as a couple. If you are seeking further therapy, we can assist you with finding the right Gottman trained therapist in your area via our online Find a Therapist service.

Question No 17 - Is attending an ASL Workshop better than going to therapy?

Answer - Attending an Art & Science of Love Workshop and seeking couples therapy for specific issues can very much go hand in hand with each other. While ASL is focused on psycho-education and skills development, research does suggest that attending can be considered equivalent to 6 months of couples therapy. We would not advise choosing the workshop over therapy and if you require additional support, we can recommend a Gottman trained therapist in your area via our Find a Therapist service

Question No 18 - Is there any risk for my relationship by attending this event?

Answer - Couples who attend our workshop tend to fall into two categories: enhancement and repair. As part of the registration process, one of our trained staff will schedule a brief call with each of you prior to attending. During this call, we can discuss any concerns you may have regarding your present situation. The preservation of your relationship is of paramount importance to us.

Question No 19 - Are there any ‘group' breakouts?

Answer - Whilst there is plenty of opportunities to work privately together as a couple during the workshop, there is absolutely no group interaction, conversation or activities. Our trained presenters will also be on hand to provide one-on-one assistance should you need it. For more information click here…/couples-workshops/

Question No 20 - Do any of the sessions get emotionally ‘heavy'?

Answer - As this workshop is focused on psycho-education and skills development and is not therapy, it is up to each couple how 'heavy' they want to get. Sometimes the connecting nature of the exercises can result in strong emotion. Our trained Gottman therapists are always on hand to provide support as you engage in all activities together. We mostly find that the tears that are expressed at the workshop are tears of healing and are highly positive and functional.

Question No 21 - Is there plenty of time to take a break?

Answer - Absolutely. We have scheduled breaks with morning and afternoon tea as well as a substantial lunch break to recharge your batteries. All food is supplied. There are also plenty of activities that you will do during the 2 days with your partner, that consolidates what you have been learning by putting it into practice immediately.

Question No 22 - Do our identities and professions remain anonymous to the group?

Answer - Yes. You will only be identified by your first name and any other information is completely confidential.

Question No 23 - Will we be offered ‘help’ if needed during the 2 days?

Answer - Our team are all Certified Gottman Therapists who have trained to present the Art and Science of Love workshop. They will be available to assist couples who run into difficulties during the exercises. Please remember though that the workshop is psycho-educational and skills development focused. You will NOT receive therapy at this workshop

Question No 24 - Will we be sitting right next to other couples?

Answer - Everyone is seated in couples with adequate room and opportunities to ensure your privacy.

Question No 25 - What happens if one of us gets emotional during a session?

Answer - We have occasionally seen this happen, and rest assured all our team are highly skilled to assist you deal with this, both respectfully and privately.

Question No 26 - Is there any pre-reading or preparation we need to do before attending?

Answer - As the workshop is self contained, there is no pre-reading required. However if you would like to get a head start, we recommend you read The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work which would introduce you to the concepts behind the program.


Thank you for your enquiry. We will get back to you soon.

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By submitting this form the information provided will be added to the RIA database and used to provide you with helpful hints on strengthening your relationship and advance notice on upcoming events and workshops in your state. All information will be kept private and not used in any way other than stated here.


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By submitting this form the information provided will be added to the RIA database and used to provide you with helpful hints on strengthening your relationship and advance notice on upcoming events and workshops in your state. All information will be kept private and not used in any way other than stated here.