Learn to communicate clearly and show respect for yourself and others without defensiveness and conflict. Learn to meet your needs to connect, have fun, enjoy a sense of belonging, and share life’s meaning and purpose with partners, family, and friends.
In providing support for people who need help developing healthy relationships, I draw on a number of tools. These include Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman Method Couple Therapy, and cognitive behavioral strategies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
EFT draws on specific theories and methods including attachment theory, Gestalt therapy, person-centered therapy and systemic therapy. While emotions are an important aspect of our ability to adapt and thrive, they can also get in the way of our relationships if we’re unable to handle emotions. EFT focuses on using maladaptive emotions when they arise in therapy, as a starting point for transformation of negative energy into compassion and connection.
Research reveals EFT to be one of the most effective methods of couple’s therapy. Authoritative studies with more than twenty years of research show that 70-75% of couples recover with this method, and 90% show significant improvement. This approach has also been used successfully with families.
In 2007, Dr. John Gottman was recognized as one of the ten most influential therapists of the previous twenty five years. The method that he teaches is based on thirty-five years of research with couples in the “Love Lab” where he and his partner Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, studied couples. They’ve found that highly successful couples have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative responses to each other. The focus in Gottman therapy is on emotion, skills for managing conflict, skills for managing friendship, and creating shared meaning. The theory defines four destructive emotional reactions that are signs of a relationship in serious trouble. They include criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt. Therapy includes identifying these issues – and learning tools for overcoming each area of concern.
Through the Gottman method a couple can learn to build on seven areas to create a sound relationship: love maps; shared fondness and admiration; turning towards each other instead of away; a positive perspective; managing conflict; making life’s dreams come true; and shared meaning. These are all areas that would be assessed and built upon using Gottman tools and methods.
It’s human nature to desire love, acceptance and connection with meaningful people in our lives. ACT focuses on the core principle that when we accept that which we can’t control – other people’s behaviour, for instance – and commit to action that improves our lives, we maximize our potential for a full and meaningful existence. When couples clarify values and goals together, and apply the following core principles to their lives, the love and acceptance that we all desire can flourish.