This blog post is the email response some have received from me after inquiring about couples counseling.
Yes, I do couples counseling and I do take insurance. I use a modified version of the methods developed by the Gottman Institute. This method focuses on appreciation, friendship and acts of connection instead of the traditional "Communication" method still used by most counselors. Gottman's method was developed after 30+ years of studying couples as they interacted.
Here is Gottman talking about what the Love Lab is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E94xTxEydN4
And Here is a short video about how he sees work happening:
This is a really great overview of his process. It's a Prezi (like powerpoint) so maybe go over it with your significant other. Prezi: 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work
I don't follow it exactly (we stop at whatever stage is the most troubling and spend time focusing on cognitive changes we can do to create a new relationship with that issue) but it lays out what the process is and why it's so important to avoid the old "communication" style of counseling.
So, here's a thought game: I arrive home after a long day at work, park the car in the driveway and walk to the front of the house. There in the front yard is my wife, with a shovel standing over a hole in the ground with a jet of water streaming up 15 ft into the air.
Do I need to use proper language with her? ("When you sever our water line, it makes me feel like you are impetuous.")
Or do I need to love and appreciate her enough that I automatically believe she is a good person, worthy of my kindness in spite of the water line rupture?
For those geeks out there, let's put a chart in to give the perception of scientific validity:
Love and Connection
This is why the Gottman method just works better. If I have focused on how much I care about and appreciate my wife, I will automatically join with her in the problem and not blame or criticize her for the "accident" no matter how much at fault she was or how frustrated I am. Even if she says she wanted to see what happened when she busted the water line, I will be able to still value her and be there as her partner instead of judging her, having contempt for her (lack of) intelligence, or, more commonly, use this as a validation of all the other ways I feel upset at her. We do damage by working to push how important we are and we repair relationships by working to remind ourselves how important our partner is. As you can see, this means we need to work together or else one partner will end up being marginalized. This is why we need to first establish that both people are invested in strengthening the relationship instead of just getting a therapist to prove they were right all along.
Anyway, maybe this is more a blog post than an email (and actually it will be in 5 minutes) but I think it's a fair overview of what my perspective is and what would be expected from you if you want to come in.
Ps. This method also has been found to be more gender neutral. The "communication" method tends to favor the style of couples work that women are already socialized to be more proficient at, meaning therapy sometimes comes off as an attack on the male partner. The Gottman method works equally well if you can figure out a way to care about your partner as they can receive it.
Thanks for reaching out.