-- Regence, Group Health
In my private practice I work with both couples and individuals in either weekly sessions or intensive “marathon” treatment. At the core of my work is the belief that therapeutic change is only accomplished with compassionate care. I began a psychotherapy practice in 1974, working with individuals suffering from heroin and alcohol addictions, psychoses, PTSD, and depression. Over the years my practice with individual clients has expanded to include treating cancer patients and their families, incest and sexual abuse survivors, combat veterans, torture victims, and those struggling with poverty as well as those working on healthier life changes.
Thirty years ago, I also conducted research that compared the effects of lesbian versus heterosexual mother’s parenting of daughters in order to examine the commonly held judicial position that children of lesbian mothers should be removed from them for their own well-being. Prior to this study, no adult-aged children raised by lesbian mothers had been scientifically studied. No significant differences were found in sexual orientation, gender identity and social adjustment between daughters either raised by lesbian or heterosexual mothers. As a result of this research, I have served as an expert witness in lesbian mothers’ court custody disputes, and my practice includes seeing women and men of any sexual orientation.
My individual therapy methods are based on what my clients have taught me over the last 40 years of work together, plus my own theoretical leanings and relevant research findings. My individual therapy orientation is eclectic. I find it helpful to explore the historical roots of current problems, underlying thoughts about life purpose and meaning, and practical ways to create desired change. Cognitive restructuring work may also be included if appropriate. My specialties include treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, addiction, the problems of navigating life transitions, and the stresses associated with physical abuse, sexual abuse, and cancer.
I practice the Gottman Method TM of couple’s therapy that I co-created with my husband, Dr. John Gottman. It is based on our combined forty-five years of research in what makes marriages succeed or fail and what interventions work best to create healthy relationships. The research was conducted with over 3,000 couples who were followed for as long as twenty years, including a 12-year long study of gay and lesbian couples. Based on this research, John and I formulated a therapy that emphasizes a “nuts and bolts” approach to strengthening and restoring relationships. All interventions have been empirically studied and refined.
Prior to beginning couple’s treatment, three sessions are held to assess and pinpoint the relationship problems needing work. This prevents time and resources being wasted on unnecessary interventions. After agreeing on specific therapeutic goals, specific tools are provided to deepen friendship and intimacy, to calmly manage conflicts, and to process past regrettable incidents. The work may also include creating a shared sense of purpose and meaning for the relationship as well as for each individual partner. Generally, the therapy helps couples to appreciate the relationship’s strengths and to gently navigate through its vulnerabilities.
Along with treating relationship distress, my specialties in couples work include recovering after an affair, healing from the effects of addiction, trauma and other emotional problems, preparing for marriage success, and navigating cancer treatment together.
Marathon Couples Therapy
I also practice either individual or couples marathon therapy which is a special, intensive form of treatment. The client(s) reserves 5 to 6 hours/day for 2 to 5 consecutive days of sessions together. This therapy is designed to accommodate the needs of those who must travel to attend sessions, or for whom weekly sessions are untenable. This therapy works well with individuals and couples who either are in crisis, have specific issues to address, or who wish an intensive and rapid program of help.
Couples Group Retreats
Together with my husband, Dr. John Gottman, we offer small group, weekend couples retreats (there are no more than 8 couples in each retreat) in our Orcas Island home. These follow the format of our larger “Art and Science” couples workshop, but due to smaller participant numbers we can provide much more personalized support during workshop exercises. For further information, please visit http://www.gottmancouplesretreats.com/
As co-founder and President of the Gottman Institute, I co-designed Gottman Method Couples Therapy with my husband, Dr. John Gottman and have been involved in every clinical aspect of our Institute since its inception in 1995. I conduct couple and individual therapy privately, co-present the couples workshop, “The Art and Science of Love,” with my husband, give talks nationally and internationally, train clinicians, and have participated in numerous TV and radio programs. Since 1995, John and I have taught workshops for over 20,000 couples and for nearly 40,000 clinicians in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. I also co-designed and taught clinicians a curriculum for couples struggling with poverty to strengthen relationship and parenting, entitled “Loving Couples Loving Children,” which is currently being applied nation-wide.
In 2002, I received the annual Distinguished Psychologist award from the Washington State Psychology Association, and received the 2005 Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. Army. I have also authored or co-authored four books: The Marriage Clinic Case Study Book” (2004), Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, (2006), And Baby Makes Three (2007), Ten Principles for Doing Effective Couples Therapy (2014) and The Man's Guide to Women: Scientifically Proven Secrets from the "Love Lab" About What Women Really Want (2016). John and I continue to conduct on-going research studies of Gottman Method Couples Therapy for the treatment of situational domestic violence, addiction, and affairs.