I sometimes hear clinicians saying, “I’m not sure that the Oral History Interview is a useful way to begin couples therapy”; or “Couples don’t want to talk about their history, they want to get straight into resolving conflict”. This is certainly not my experience. The Oral History Interview generally helps the couple to put their current issues into a larger perspective. I often hear couples say, “You know as we talk about this I’m realising that we have had a pretty good relationship”; or “Things between us have generally been good”. Of course there are also those who say things like “I’m really not sure why we stayed together.”
Tom and Evette presented for therapy 8 weeks after Tom had discovered that Evette had been involved with another man from her workplace. At the time of their presentation Evette has refused to discuss the affair with Tom, simply saying that “It’s over, stop going on about it.” Tom is understandably angry and hostile towards Evette. He is frustrated that Evette will not discuss the affair saying frequently, “I have a right to know!” Tom has hundreds of questions that he wants answers to while Evette is “scared” to talk about it because she is sure talking about it will make things worse.
As most couples begin to address the consequences of an affair their relationship does not feel safe and trust is completely destroyed. It is therefore critical that therapists working with these clients create a safe, trusting environment for them firstly in the therapy room and eventually in their own homes.
Marathon Therapy is fast becoming one of the most popular and successful approaches to helping couples through relationship crisis. It is an approach that I would recommend for all couples presenting with significant relationship distress. Marathon Therapy usually consists of 2 to 5 consecutive days of intense, structured, evidence based couples therapy. Marathon Couples' Therapy is a specific type of therapy that is short-term and intensive. Its purpose is to move couples quickly through their current crisis or specific perpetual issue. It is not meant as an on-going, long-term couples' therapy.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a clinician tell me they treat all their gay and straight couples ‘the same’ I’d be a rich man. Although it’s totally true that same-sex couples bring many of the same issues to their therapist’s offices, working with gender and sexually diverse individuals in relationships is anything but the same as working with their heteronormative counterparts.
While Christmas has a reputation for good cheer and joy, it is also the most stressful month of the year for couples, according to Seddons, a law firm in the UK. They report in their 2011 study of 3000 couples that more arguments occur during the month of December than at any other time of the year. It was reported that the average couple has 4 arguments a day during December, or a total of 124 arguments over the month.
Infidelity in a committed relationship—can severely strain the relationship and the individuals involved. One partner’s affair can leave the other person feeling devastated, alone, betrayed, jealous, confused, and aggrieved. Sometimes, an affair ends a relationship, and other times couples are able to repair the relationship on their own or with the help of a therapist, often making the relationship stronger as a result.
Michael Brown a Certified Gottman Therapist in the USA describes substance abuse as the “uninvited-invited guest” in an intimate relationship. He argues that at times substance abuse enters into a relationship like an uninvited guest. Other times, it is invited in by one, and unwanted by the other. Or in a third scenario, it is invited in by both partners. However, whenever it enters, it is like an unwanted guest that stays too long and interferes in the relationship. So just how does this “unwanted guest” impact relationships? Viewing it through the Sound Relationship House helps us to better conceptualise the issues.
Trish Purnell-Webb is a clinical psychologist in private practice. Trish was the first therapist in Australia to become a Certified Gottman Therapist. She is also the only person in Australia to hold the title of Master Trainer and Consultant with the Gottman Institute and is only 1 of 22 in the world. What does all this mean? Recently Trish was interviewed by a psychology placement student from Bond University asking her about this.
A summary of new information provided by Dr John Gottman at the Wellington, NZ Level 1 training, April 2016
The pathway to certification with the Gottman Institute is very well structured to assist therapists who have already developed micro-counseling skills and an understanding of therapeutic process, to be able to very successfully apply Gottman Marital Therapy (GMT) in a highly competent and successful manner.
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