Couples Counseling: Gottmans’ 8 dates

John and Julie Gottman wrote a new book “Eight Dates : The Essential Conversations That Lead to a Lifetime of Love”. Their big secret to creating a love that lasts and grows over time is simple: make dedicated, non-negotiable time for each other a priority, and never stop being curious about your partner. Four decades of research have led them to the eight topics that matter most to relationships — trust and commitment; conflict; sex; money; family; fun and adventure; growth and spirituality; and dreams. If couples keep talking together about these eight essential topics, they have the best chance of their own ‘happy ever after’.

Date #1: Lean on me

Date #2: Let’s agree about how we disagree

Date #3: Ignite the passion

Date #4: Time to talk about the cost of love

Date #5: It really is a family affair

Date #6: Be adventurous

Date #7: How to grow old together

Date #8: Live the dream

Brainspotting, Life Transitions, Parenting: handling birth trauma

One-third of women experience birth trauma, often during preventable situations. The experience can leave the new mother traumatized and unwilling to have any more children, even though she and her partner may have previously discussed having more.  A “one and done” decision after a harrowing labor and delivery experience isn’t uncommon among women who endure a psychologically traumatic childbirth. Birth is traumatic for 1 out of 3 women due to:

  • Lack or loss of control: 55%
  • Fear for their baby’s life or health: 50%
  • Severe physical pain: 47%
  • Not enough communication from provider: 39%

Brainspotting therapy can help women process the birth trauma and treat PTSD, so that they are no longer triggered by nightmares, fears, or difficult emotions of giving birth.

Couples Counseling, Financial Therapy: Julie Gottman on world peace at home

Here is a wonderful TEDx talk (20 minutes) where Julie Gottman gives an overview of Gottman Method Couples therapy and how it applies to dealing with perpetual and resolvable conflicts in the home. My clients will recognize the Gottman-Rapoport exercise based on principles of diplomacy and the Art of Compromise circles (or bagels, as Julie calls them) for successful negotiation and resolution. Julie reminds us how to state our feelings (without cheating) and that there is no such thing as too needy –

Couples Counseling: undiagnosed ADHD affects relationships

Troubled relationships are all too common among adults with unmanaged ADHD. Although ADHD afflicts millions of adults, it remains under-diagnosed – only about 10 percent of adults who met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD had been diagnosed and treated for it. While hyperactivity component of ADHD often declines with age, executive functions symptoms, such as difficulty with time management, organization, motivation, concentration, self-discipline, planning and follow-through, can linger into adulthood. Barkley and Murphy reported in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment that 89 percent to 98 percent of adults with ADHD are impaired in all executive functions. “There’s no domain of your life that this disorder does not interfere with. It produces more significant impairment in more areas of life than other outpatient disorders,” including anxiety and depression, Barkley says. “School, occupation, money, credit, sex, work life, raising children—it hits them all.”

Unfortunately, traditional marriage counseling often isn’t very helpful unless ADHD is diagnosed and treated. “Many people have tried going to therapists and marriage counselors who are not trained in ADHD and may overlook it as a source of potential problems in the marriage,” Murphy says. “Consequently, these well-meaning therapists may miss the boat, which is a major reason why many ADHD couples report prior attempts at traditional couples counseling to be unhelpful.”


Financial Therapy: living paycheck-to-paycheck

The sad situation described in this article is that a nationwide online study of 25,000 American adults found that while “just over two-fifths of respondents (41%) report spending less than their income, 36% spend about EQUAL to their income, and 19% spend MORE than their income.”

Only 35% are “certain they could come up with the full $2,000” if an unexpected need for $2,000 came up within the next month. Similarly, 40% claimed to have set aside 3 months or more in an emergency fund.

What happens when you consistently live paycheck-to-paycheck?

  • You go into serious debt if income stops coming in, and then you pay high interest on that debt
  • You are always stressed out about financial risk and hardship
  • You aren’t able to build sufficient emergency savings
  • You will never save anything for retirement and will be working until death
  • You will never achieve financial independence
  • You will not be able to save up for an occasional vacation, home improvement, education, etc.
  • You really can’t work towards ANY future goals that are reliant on saved assets

Couples Counseling: can therapy help with relationship problems?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of couples go into counseling in an effort to save their troubled relationships. But does marital therapy work? Not nearly as well as it should, researchers say. Two years after ending counseling, studies find, 25 percent of couples are worse off than they were when they started, and after four years, up to 38 percent are divorced.

“Couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy with their relationship before getting help,” said Dr. John Gottman, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington and executive director of the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle. “We help the very distressed couples less than the moderately distressed couples.”

Some studies indicate that couples who take marriage education classes have a lower divorce rate than couples who do not take the classes.

But Dr. Gottman, who uses marriage education workshops and couples therapy, has found that workshops alone are insufficient for 20 percent to 30 percent of couples in his research. These couples have problems — like a history of infidelity or depression — that can be addressed only in therapy, he said.

Here is an interesting article summarizing different perspectives on the success of couples counseling –

Couples Counseling: Gottman Method research findings

In sessions with couples using Gottman Method therapy, I often quote various research statistics from the Gottman Institute. For example, most relationship problems (69%) never get resolved but are “perpetual” problems based on personality differences between partners. For these types of problems, the couples work on improving their communication skills while accepting each other’s varying perspectives. For the remaining 31% of the disagreements, the focus is on understanding each other’s point of view and practicing the art of compromise.

Here is the link to the article with an infographic, highlighting some of Gottman’s most important research findings –