Couples therapy

The goal of couples therapy is to boost your relationship quality. When providing couples therapy, I will use different methods, with my primary focus on Gottman Method Couples Therapy (GMCT). GMCT is based on extensive longitudinal research on couples by John and Julie Gottman and their colleagues.

I work with couples with different sexual, racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, who are at different stages in their relationship (e.g., forming a new bond, strengthening friendship and intimacy, working through affairs, coming back together).

Mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, or a behavioural addiction, are no contraindication for couples work. In fact, in GMCT they are generally welcomed and addressed when appropriate.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy

GMCT integrates affective, existential, cognitive-behavioural, narrative, systemic, and psychodynamic approaches. 

Longitudinal research has shown that four factors within a couple relationship are highly predictive of relationship demise. These include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. One major goal of GMCT is to reduce these so-called Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and replace them with alternative behaviour.

What to expect?

GMCT starts with an assessment phase consisting of the following elements:

  1. one initial session which includes couple’s interview, 75min
  2. online relationship questionnaires for each partner
  3. one individual session with each partner, 50min p.p.
  4. one feedback/therapy planning session, 75min

Afterwards, we are ready to start with therapeutic interventions, during this phase we will most likely meet each week for 75(-90)min. How long therapy takes will largely depend on your past as a couple, your goals, and on how often you practice what you have learned in therapy.

In the intervention phase, we will work on different parts of your relationship. These are based on the Sound Relationship House and include Friendship and Intimacy, Managing Conflict, and Creating Shared Meaning which can be further divided into seven sub-categories (including Build Love Maps, Share Fondness and Admiration, Turn Towards, and Making Life Dreams Come True). Additionally, Trust and Commitment are strengthened and restored.

One of the aims of couples therapy should be to make you increasingly independent of the therapist and therapy process. As such, you will learn many methods that you can use in your day-to-day life on your own (e.g., methods during conflicts or stressful situations). That’s why is key to practice them often!

The therapy ends when you as a couple feel that you are ready to proceed on your own. If you wish, booster sessions (e.g., after 6 months, 1 or 2 years) can be scheduled to help you stay on track or get through specifically stressful situations.

Common topics in couples therapy

  • Conflicts
  • Lack of friendship
  • Lack of intimacy, feelings of sexual inadequacy
  • Working through an affair, lack of trust
  • Stress or abrupt changes
  • Personal dreams not met or seemingly incompatible
  • Effects of mental disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, substance abuse) or external factors (e.g., conflict with in-laws)
  • Escalations leading to regrettable incidents, such as emotional or physical abuse
  • Inconsistent parenting behaviour

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. You are the foremost expert on your own relationship and can best decide whether there are areas of significant dissatisfaction or not.