Exciting News for CRW Houston

CRW Houston is looking into expanding its media outreach. Right now we are working on a weekly tv show to be broadcasted via youtube. The show will include a question and answer session with Dr. Cole and Carrie Cole.

Although a podcast is also being discussed, it has not yet been decided whether or not the podcast will go into production.

Let us know what you think! Would you watch us on youtube? Or how about a podcast? Go ahead and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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Center for Relationship Wellness
1560 W. Bay Area Blvd., Ste. 270
Friendswood, TX 77546

Center for Realtionship Wellness does well in Seattle!

Don & I spent the weekend in Seattle a little over a week ago. The cooler temperatures of Seattle were a welcome respite from the sweltering summer heat of Houston. And it was good to re-connect with the many friends we have found in the Gottman “family”. Don and I often work with the Gottman Relationship Institute when John and Julie present the Art and Science of Love Workshop for couples. Even though we teach these workshops ourselves, we find it helpful to listen to John and Julie Gottman as they present the material. We always learn something new, and it is fun to listen to the wonderful stories they tell.

Stories are a good way to connect to others on an emotional level. We can grasp the emotional content in a way that we really understand when someone describes the events and details in story form. Our heritage has been passed down from generation to generation in just this way. The story links us together.

One of the things Gottman therapists do in marital therapy is to ask couples how they met. One of my favorites was told by a husband. He could remember exactly what his future wife was wearing all the way down to her white Nike high top tennis shoes. She had just applied to work at the little burger joint that he was working at, and he went in and told the manager to hire her. He thought she was the most beautiful, spirited, exciting girl he’d ever met. He got real excited about going to work from that day forward, hoping she would be on his shift. Many of us can relate to how he felt. We can recall the positive emotions that drew us to the person who became our life partner.

Sometimes in the hurried, stressed lives that we lead, we find ourselves disconnected from feelings of love and affection that drew us together in the first place. Attending a workshop like the Art and Science of Love can help reawaken those memories and feelings for many people. Our next one is coming up in October and we would love to have you consider being with us.

Written by Carrie Cole

Later this week, an FAQ covering the Gottman Method, and an in-depth post on the second level of the Sound Relationship House.

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Center for Relationship Wellness
1560 W. Bay Area Blvd., Ste. 270
Friendswood, TX 77546

Level Two of the Sound Relationship House

Today’s blog discusses the second level of the Sound Relationship House. Level two consists of sharing and nurturing fondness and admiration.

As time goes on in a relationship, certain things can come about that serve as barriers to a healthy relationship. Arguements, antagonism, contempt, and stonewalling, two of which we know as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (discussed in our Jun 4 2010 post). An important part of repairing a damaged relationship is sharing fondness and admiration. An effective way to do so is for the couple to recall their first date, and what triggered interest in the partner to begin with. According to Dr. John Gottman, “If a couple still has a functioning fondness and admiration system, the marriage is salvageable”. Fondness and admiration is a very important segment of the relationship that goes into a marriage. When this disappears, we no longer respect our partner.

Inquiring the couple’s past can be the best way to detect if there is a fondness and admiration system intact. This is because while recent months or years may be littered with negative emotion, often times the partners will recall positive emotions if asked to recount their first date or a similar instance in the past.

Positive recollection of the marriage is extremely important in determining the eventual success or failure of that marriage. So important that in Dr. Gottman’s research, he found that 94% of couples who had positive recollections could save their marriage. (Page 64, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”)

This powerful review of history can be a tool in preventing the deterioration of a marriage. By remembering positive qualities about your partner, even during an argument, can create a buffer of protection from thoughts of seperation. There’s no special formula here, simply talking with your partner about the “good days” can revive past feelings, and bring them into current times. Discussing these positive feelings can strengthen a marriage, which opens the possiblity of discussing troubling issues within a marriage and can turn the clock backwards until a generally positive image of the partner is restored.

Discussion: Tell us about a time you used these methods, knowingly or unknowingly, and tell us how it turned out!

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Center for Relationship Wellness
1560 W. Bay Area Blvd., Ste. 270
Friendswood, TX 77546

A Brief Interview with Dr. Don Cole

Q: How did you get your start as a therapist?

 

In 1985 I was ordained as a Lutheran pastor and began took a full time position as an associate minister in a church in Houston. Pastoral counseling and therapy had already been a big part of my background and so it was natural that I used that training in my work with people at the church. My work with my supervisor led to my enrolling in a doctor of ministry program in counseling. In 1992 I was licensed as a professional counselor in Texas and a year later as a Marriage and Family Therapist as well.

 

Q: With so many different fields in therapy, why did you pick marital therapy to be your specialty?

 

That evolved over time. While working with people over the years I began to notice that most of the people who came for help were really struggling with their relationships, mostly their marriages. When people came for help with depressed mood or anxious feelings it seemed to me that most of the time they were stressed over things that weren’t going well at home. So often it seemed that their problems with their kids, or their problems with money were at least in part due to feeling that they couldn’t work as a team with their spouses. Unfortunately when couples did come to me for marriage counseling, it seemed that the theories and techniques I used to try to help them left a lot to be desired.

Q: Having used the Gottman Method, what makes it different from other marital therapy systems?

 

I began to read John Gottman’s writings and research in 1995. I have always been drawn to the scientific method of observation and experimentation. As I started learning about Dr. Gottman’s research it was clear that his approach was very different because it was based on a good scientific approach. Most of what I had done with couples before had been based on theories and philosophies which sometimes were helpful to people and sometimes not. We now understand that successful couples operated well in three main areas: they have a strong friendship base, they manage their conflicts fairly well and they are building a shared meaningful life together. Gottman therapy and interventions are designed to help couples improve their relationship in all three of these areas.

 

Q: In your experiences, has the Gottman method proved useful in most cases?

 

I sometimes compare the Gottman method therapy I now offer with physical therapy. When a person sees a physical therapist to rehab and injury they don’t just talk about the problem but they actually do exercises to improve things. After learning the exercises with the physical therapist, they are sent home to continue the exercises to strengthen the injury. I think Gottman method therapy is very similar to that. We have specific discussions and exercises to help strengthen friendship or improve conflict management skills or enhance their shared meaning and then the couple is encouraged to continue those discussions at home. I think most couples benefit greatly from this approach and find the fact that they are actually doing something to make things better very encouraging.

 

Q: You offer both therapy sessions and the “Art & Science of Love” workshops. What is the major advantage of each of these services?

 

The Art and Science of Love© workshop is a two day, 16 hour experience where couples listen to presentations and then work with their partners on exercises designed to strengthen their relationships. This provides a fast, focused way for a couple to address issues in their relationship. This is a very helpful experience for most couples but it does require the couple to be able to discuss things with their partner fairly calmly and to work on things cooperatively. Some couples are too upset with each other to do that and so therapy is the only option for them. Of course, private therapy has the advantage of dealing with issues in a more focused way under guidance of the therapist. Many times couples opt for both.

We are pleased that we can now offer the workshop in Houston. Just a few years ago it was only available in Seattle but the Gottman Relationship Institute has trained a number of certified therapists throughout the world to offer the workshop in their communities. If anyone needs help to decide which is right for them, they should just give us a call.

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Center for Relationship Wellness
1560 W. Bay Area Blvd., Ste. 270
Friendswood, TX 77546

Accepting Influence

Some of the most powerful and influential leaders of our time can teach us some things about building relationships and rapport with others. When dealing with unrest and conflict, they will often consider what the other side has to say. They take it in, absorb it, and find out what it means and why this stance is so important. Influential people accept influence from others.

Accepting influence is finding a way to consider another’s point of view as valid. It means seeing the issue from the other person’s perspective and taking their feelings into account. This does not mean that one point of view is right and the other is wrong. Nor does it mean that we must give up our own position. Accepting influence is finding a way to say “Yes” or “That makes sense”. It is seeking understanding.

Interestingly, when an individual has a habit of saying “No” when approached with requests, people find ways to work around them. So instead of getting what they want, they end up being left out. Refusing to accept influence does not increase one’s power or control over a situation.

How easy is it for you to accept influence from others?

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Make checks payable to: 
Center for Relationship Wellness
1560 W. Bay Area Blvd., Ste. 270
Friendswood, TX 77546