Ask the Expert: How to Have a Strong Relationship and Do Amazing Couples Counseling with Julie Schwartz-Gottman | POP 841

A photo of Julie Schwartz-Gottman is captured. She is the co-founder of The Gottman Institute and a clinical psychologist. Julie is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Are you a couple’s counselor? Do you want to design a couple’s therapy marathon session? What are some direct Gottman tips on how to become an effective and rounded couples therapist?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to have a strong relationship and do amazing couples counseling with Julie Schwartz-Gottman.

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

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Meet Julie Schwartz-Gottman

A photo of Julie Schwartz-Gottman is captured. She is the co-founder of The Gottman Institute and a clinical psychologist. Julie is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Julie is a co-founder and President of The Gottman Institute and co-founder of Affective Software, Inc. with her husband John Gottman. A highly respected clinical psychologist, she is sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert advisor on marriage, sexual harassment and rape, domestic violence, gay and lesbian adoption, same-sex marriage, and parenting issues. She is the co-creator of the immensely popular The Art and Science of Love weekend workshops for couples, and she also co-designed the national clinical training program in Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Visit The Gottman Institute and connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

In This Podcast

  • Create a space for “stress-reducing conversations”
  • The benefit of a marathon session
  • Helping couples at different stages
  • Treating couples in their second marriages
  • Julie’s advice for private practitioners

Create a space for “stress-reducing conversations”

If you have clients that are struggling with a problem that requires access to deep intimacy and honesty, for example, infertility, you need to guide the couple to a place where they can have a stress-reducing conversation about the topic, and how they feel.

What that means in the Gottman method is [that] one person is the speaker, the other is the listener, and what the listener is doing is asking big, open-ended questions of the speaker to find out how they’re feeling deep inside.

Julie Schwartz-Gottman

These types of conversations allow each partner to truly share what it is that they think and feel in a place where they feel safe, listened to, and where their total honesty is welcomed and encouraged.

This conversation works best when the focus is placed on the emotions that are felt.

Really zeroing in on the emotions of the other person and not trying to minimize those … or reassure the person out of the emotion [because] those emotions are real and valid.

Julie Schwartz-Gottman

Each partner is given the chance to ask questions and to listen to one another, allowing them to hear and empathize with their fears, worries, and experience.

The benefit of a marathon session

A couples’ marathon therapy session is typically spread out over three consecutive days which a therapist will spend with one couple, consisting of five to six hours of work each day.

The methods that you use in your session will of course complement the type of therapy that you provide each day. You do not need to be certified, but it does help.

Marathon therapies are very intense but the great thing about them … is that you’ve got momentum. Each exercise or piece of work builds on the next, on the next.

Julie Schwartz-Gottman

With the momentum that you gain with a couple through a marathon therapy session can lead to powerful breakthroughs.

The general process of a couples’ marathon therapy session:

  • Sending a questionnaire to the couple first for them to fill out.
  • The therapist will read through the scored questionnaires before the first session.
  • In the first session, on the first day, you go through the oral history interview with the couple.
  • Then you go through your clinical checklist for their report during the break so that both you and the couple have the same documents, and can begin discussing treatment planning.
  • Treatment begins in the afternoon of the first day.
  • The next two days work through those primary challenges.
  • There can be a follow-up session a month or two after the final session.

Helping couples at different stages

How can you treat couples when one partner feels that they have been “dragged” to therapy?

Firstly, validate the partner that doesn’t want to be there. Commend them on the courage for showing up.

You’re empathizing with that person deeply … so that they feel seen, heard, [and] understood and witnessed because non-volunteers [fear] being nailed, so you don’t nail them, you empathize with them. With both.

Julie Schwartz-Gottman

Of course, you will also connect with the person that wanted to come to the therapy. You need to show them both that you see them and appreciate them.

Treating couples in their second marriages

Explain to them that they may very well be bringing some unresolved or unhealed emotional baggage from their first marriages into their current one with each other. Explain to them that it’s completely normal as well as resolvable.

Basically, what I’ll do is look at the triggers for them. For example, if they have a bad fight or a regrettable incident, you use the [the Gottman] five-step process and use step three … which is about triggers.

Julie Schwartz-Gottman

Triggers are defined as feelings that come up during an incident that dates from before the current relationship that the two people are in.

Transparency, as a communicative and actionable tool, in the case of recurring triggers is a great method for teaching a couple how to separate what happened in the first marriage to the current partner.

1 – Identify the triggers from the first marriage and the stories that they come from

2 – Separate the first marriage from the current one

3 – How is this partner different from the person’s first partner

Julie’s advice for private practitioners

Take care of your body, not just your brain.

Dedicate time to exercising and being in nature to fully rest and give your mind a chance to switch off from the work and switch on creativity and the ability to be present.

Books mentioned in this episode:

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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