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What Is Intensive Couples Therapy?
Intensive Couples Therapy (Counselling) is ideal for busy couples, as the purpose of intensive couples therapy is to help couples fast track the communication or other issues that are occurring in the relationship.
Therapy Lounge counsellers are qualified Gottman Method Couples Therapy practitioners and we are excited to be able to offer this exceptional program to Brisbane couples.
How Intensive Couples Therapy Works
The Gottman Relationship Checkup assesses five areas of the couple’s relationship:
- Friendship and Intimacy: relationship satisfaction, emotional connection, romance, and admiration;
- The Safety Scales: trust, chaos, commitment, and emotional philosophies;
- The Conflict Scales: stress, relationship harshness, and conflict management;
- The Shared Meaning System: shared rituals, values, and goals;
- Individual Areas of Concern: individual issues, or concerns such as safety, sex, depression, drug and alcohol use, violence, anxiety, or anything that may require psychological or psychiatric help.
The Gottman Method for intensive couples therapy is based on over forty years of research on marriage and relationships, and is evidence-based in proven outcomes.
Over the course, therapy is based on the “Sound Relationship House” theory. Work will be done on each of the seven levels, which are described as follows:
7 Levels of the Sound Relationship House Theory
- Level 1: Build Love Maps – The first level or foundation of the “house” is the Love Map – formulating a road map of each partner’s inner world. By asking open-ended questions, the couple learns about each other. As each member of the couple changes and grows as an individual, partners will need to update this information regularly.
- Level 2: Share Fondness and Admiration – The second story is about building a culture of appreciation, fondness, affection and respect in the relationship. Instead of scanning the environment for you partner’s mistakes and then correcting them, the focus is shifted to looking for what your partner is doing right.
- Level 3: Turn Towards – The third level examines the couple’s emotional connection – do they turn towards, or turn away from each other, in the many small moments which make up daily life? Seemingly small choices, can have a huge impact on a couple’s relationship. Is the couple depositing or withdrawing from their “Emotional Bank Account” with each interaction?
- Level 4: The Positive Perspective – The first three levels form the foundation of the relationship “house” and together create level four. If levels 1-3 are solid, the couple will have a “Positive Sentiment Override” (PSO). If these lower levels are not working, the couple will have a “Negative Sentiment Override”. This override determines the atmosphere of the couple’s interactions. Unfortunately if a couple is in Negative Sentiment Override (NSO), even neutral or positive messages are perceived as negative; partners see each other as adversaries rather than as allies. According to the Gottman theory, is is not possible to change NSO to PSO, except by changing the quality of the couple’s friendship (levels 1-3).
- Level 5: Manage Conflict – Couples identify not only the core issues in their relationship, but also the triggers (eg defensiveness, criticism, contempt) for the negative cycles that they have fallen into. Part of this level is exploring the role each of these triggers has played in the person’s pastaqws. There are two main types of conflict which couples will face:
- Type 1: Couple problems that are resolvable. As part of intensive couples therapy, couples will learn about the “Four Parts of Effective Problem Solving” and how to apply them.
- Type 2: Couple problems that are perpetual and probably not resolvable. In order to avoid getting stuck, the couple will learn about establishing a dialogue with the perpetual problem.
- Level 6: Make Life Dreams and Aspirations Come True – When problems and conflicts arise, how can couples continue to have a positive emotional connection? Connection needs to be built by the couple intentionally every day, through play, fun, and exploration/adventure. As each partner helps the other to realise important life dreams and goals, it creates the basis for unlocking conflict gridlock.
- Level 7: Create Shared Meaning – The final level is the “attic” of the house. This is where a couple intentionally creates (or does not create), a sense of shared meaning in their life together. Shared meaning is made up of a couple’s history and philosophy, their emotions and how they express them, as well as their rituals, goals and roles – both in their own relationship, the family of origin, and within the larger community. Shared meaning influences how a couple prioritises their time and resources.