I utilize the Pragmatic-Experiential Method developed by Dr. Brent Atkinson which draws heavily on the research of Dr. John Gottman's relationship research lab. The Pragmatic-Experiential Method translates new discoveries in the fields of neurobiology and relationship science into practical strategies for improving relationships.
While the ideal is that both members of the couple want counseling, it can still be very possible for an individual to bring significant change to the relationship by making changes in his or her approach to the relationship.
A series of landmark studies in the past three decades have identified what people who succeed in their intimate relationships do differently than those who fail. Researchers discovered a core set of emotional habits that are so powerfully positive that, when people have them, they end up having satisfying long-term relationships over most of the time. Most people believe their current relationship habits will enable them to succeed in their relationships, but available evidence suggests that this is wishful thinking. Studies suggest that most of us don't enter into our committed relationships with the prerequisites for relationship success. Most of us don’t have the habits needed to make our relationships succeed over the long haul. In fact, most people don’t even know what these crucial habits are. In couples counseling, I will help you and your partner more fully develop these emotional habits that are so highly predictive of relationship success.
The attitudes and behaviors necessary to succeed in relationships are easy to understand and learn, but can be very difficult to do because, at key moments, you may find yourself in a state of mind that isn’t compatible with the needed behavior or attitude. In order to change your thinking or behaviors, you must develop the ability to get into the right frame of mind for the task. Marriage researchers have discovered that when a marriage is distressed each partner generally reacts to the other during arguments in highly predictable and patterned ways. Thanks to some very helpful brain research in the past 15 years, we now know that this is because, across our lives, each of our brains gets conditioned to produce highly specific response programs. These are conditioned brain circuits that are pre-programmed so that, once triggered, they unfold as if they had a mind of their own, producing a predictable pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Brain researchers call these brain states “executive operating systems” or “intrinsic motivational circuits.” Ordinary people call them “states of mind” or “moods.” The important thing is not what they are called, but to recognize that these internal response programs can dramatically dictate how you interact with your partner.
To improve your relationship, you will need to become familiar with the specific mood state patterns that happen inside of you during key intimate situations. Your best shot at acting differently comes when you develop the ability to shift internal states when needed. My goal is to help you and your partner increase your abilities to shift out of mood states that often propel you into non-productive fighting.