Older Married Couple

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Marriage Counseling in Kalamazoo


I am trained in the Gottman Method Couples Therapy. This is the approach that I find is the most helpful for the couples that I work with in marriage and couples counseling. I find this approach to be useful because it is based on research, it has a thorough assessment procedure so that I have an excellent understanding of the concerns in the relationship, and it has interventions that I have seen help improve couples’ communication and overall relationship satisfaction. Sessions are about 50 minutes long.

Session One (assessment)
Couple will be seen together to get each person’s perspective, talk about current relationship concerns, observe how the couple argues, discuss the history of the relationship and family as well as other background information.

Session Two (assessment)
I meet with each person individually to get to know them as an individual, to hear more about their individual perspective on the relationship, and to better understand how their background impacts their relationship. I require that couples sign a release to one another so that when we meet for the treatment planning session I can discuss anything that is therapeutically relevant that was discussed in the individual sessions.

Gottman Relationship Checkup Survey
As a part of the assessment I ask each person to fill out a survey called the Gottman Relationship Checkup. There is an extra $30.00 cost to complete the survey which is completed online and usually takes 1-2 hours to complete. I ask that couples complete this survey before we begin our treatment planning session.

Session Three (therapist observation, survey results, and educate Gottman Research)
The next session we spend discussing the results of the survey and educating the couple about detrimental relationship patterns that research has shown to be related to divorce, as well as the positive relationship patterns that Gottman’s research has discovered. Most couples that I have worked with have reported that the survey accurately depicts the strengths and areas of improvement in their relationship. I will provide you with some suggested goals for counseling based off of this survey.

Session Four (Treatment Plan)
The couple is beginning their treatment plan. In this session the couple will attempt to objectively define and agree with one another on what the problems are in their relationship. Then we will discuss strengths that the couple has to overcome the identified problems.

Session Five (Treatment Plan Continued)
I will assist the couple in developing a treatment plan which includes setting goals, objectives, and interventions to aid in improving their relationship. The treatment plan will act as a guide for counseling and will help to focus on interventions that will be the most helpful and effective for each couple.

Session Six and Beyond (Treatment and interventions)
This will be the part of treatment where specific interventions will be utilized to help the couple work on their established therapy goals.

Here is some information about the Gottman Method Couple Therapy as provided in the training manual.

Gottman Method Couple Therapy
The Gottman Method of Couple Therapy is based on Dr. John Gottman’s research that began the 1970s and continues to this day. The research has focused on what makes relationships succeed or fail. From this research, Drs. John and Julie Gottman have created a method of therapy that is a practical approach for improving clients’ relationships.

This method is designed to help teach specific tools to deepen friendship and intimacy in your relationship. To help you productively manage conflicts, you will be given methods to manage “resolvable problems” and dialogue about “gridlocked” (or perpetual) issues. We will also work together to help you appreciate your friendship’s strengths and to gently navigate through its vulnerabilities.

General Issues Working With Couples

I make every effort to be objective and neutral, and to avoid taking sides whenever possible while working with couples in therapy. One specific way in which I try to stay neutral is by avoiding colluding with one person by keeping secrets from one partner to the other. If a couple is seeing me in therapy and one or both partners needs to speak with me on an individual basis, I will share what is told to me in private with their partner if it is therapeutically relevant, provided a release is signed. Again, I do this to avoid taking sides and perpetuating family secrets that, in the long run, are generally devastating to family togetherness.

Affairs can be devastating to a marriage. For some marriages, it is the lying and the deceitfulness often associated with affairs that create more damage to the marriage than the physical acts of the affair. For this reason, if I am told by one member of a couple, in private, that he or she is having an affair, I will encourage that person to end the affair and disclose the affair with his or her partner. If the affair is not terminated immediately and the client who has had the affair has not disclosed the affair to his or her partner, then I will to terminate couple/marriage therapy and the client will have the option of working with me individually or being referred to counseling elsewhere. I will respect the confidentiality of the person who had the affair and not disclose it, but I will terminate therapy for a very general reason and refer the couple elsewhere. This is not done out of judgment to the person who has had the affair, but as a marriage/couple therapist my primary concern is with the relationship. As mentioned earlier, not openly disclosing an affair and / or not ending an affair is often detrimental to the relationship.

This same procedure will be used for members of couples who share very serious secrets with me in private such as, but not limited to: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, undisclosed credit card or gambling debts, secret internet pornography addictions. These rules are subject to change if the laws change. As a marriage and family therapist I do not keep secrets, as this is often detrimental to the marriage and to the family.