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Gottman Method Couples Therapy Addresses Frequent Issues

Peggy Walsh

Peggy Walsh

Peggy Walsh, a board-certified clinical nurse specialist, offers Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy in Fort Myers. Walsh is experienced in counseling that is based on Doctors Julie and John Gottman’s knowledge and wisdom. “Gained from John’s 40 years of clinical research studying more than 3,000 couples and Julie’s years as an expert therapist, the Gottmans saw the basis for a lasting couple relationship as a strong friendship. Their model of seven practical principles that make for a healthy, lasting relationship is captured in the image of a Sound Relationship House,” says Walsh.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy involves building love maps (knowing a partner’s world), sharing fondness and admiration, treating the small moments of everyday life as the building blocks of relationship, learning to listen and validate each other, turning toward each other’s bids for attention, establishing reliable ways to repair their relationship when there is conflict or disconnection, and distinguishing when conflicts are solvable and when they are perpetual. It proposes that 69 percent of every couple’s issues are perpetual, meaning they cannot be solved, but can be understood, appreciated and lived with.

Walsh agrees with relationship expert and author Alison Armstrong’s perspective that giving a partner the benefit of the doubt and assuming that a disturbing behavior or communication has some good reason. “In the Gottman Method, we call this being in positive sentiment override. This is wise, but harder than it sounds if a couple or one partner is locked in negative sentiment override. When a person is in this frame of mind, it feels like the partner can’t do anything right. For example, if they ask what you want, you are annoyed that they don’t know by now. If they don’t ask, you are angry that they only think of themselves and not what you want. It is a no-win situation,” explains Walsh.

“In the Gottman Method, we point that out the negative sentiment override, but don’t go after it directly, as it doesn’t change that way. The real remedy comes from verbalizing appreciation and giving acknowledgments. This is what slowly begins to shift it. It is an emotional state that feels like a legitimate way of thinking,” notes Walsh.

“In order to move couples into positive sentiment override, we also work at rebuilding the friendship and have the couples do things together that they like. We encourage fun. When the couple focuses on what they appreciate and like about each other, the negativity softens and they realize that they need to accept the whole package,” clarifies Walsh, who finds it personally meaningful to use the short-term cognitive/behavioral therapy and psychodynamic principles that she is trained in to help individuals.

“We work together on building and restoring friendship, mastering constructive conflict, identifying shared goals and meaning as well as life dreams. Couples learn communication skills, self-esteem and boundary setting. Since nearly all of life takes place in relationship which requires good listening skills, I particularly enjoy helping them learn to listen, as well as paraphrase and validate each other so that they both feel they were heard. This allows them to work as a team to create the life they want,” says Walsh.

For more information or to make an appointment with Walsh in Ft. Myers, call 718-208-6986 or email PWalshFlorida@comcast.net.

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