If you went to a doctor and they asked you to roll up your sleeve and receive an injection without doing any tests first or asking questions about your medical history, wouldn’t you be alarmed?
As much as you might want immediate help, you would probably want the doctor to thoroughly examine you before deciding which treatment option was best for you. Once they had carefully diagnosed the source of your ailment, their chosen remedy would stand a far better chance of helping you than a blind stab at a cure. The doctor’s injection is what many of us do with troubled couples. We assume we understand their needs, and we inject our cure-all particular brand of psychotherapy before we know the precise challenges the couple in front of us faces.
You may feel like you’re cheating the couple if you start by doing an assessment of their relationship instead of immediate intervention. You see two people in pain and you want to help them. We understand.
With that said, if you work with couples, we urge you to take the time to do a careful assessment of the relationship before beginning treatment. We also urge you to then give feedback about their relationship, formulate goals together for treatment, and talk about where to begin and how the therapy will work. We teach therapists how to do this in Level 1 Training.
The time will be very well spent. If you don’t know where to go, it doesn’t help to drive faster. If you take your time and assess the couple’s relationship, you’ll know which way you’re driving, where the bumps are in the road, and what turns you must take to best serve your clients.
Dr. Julie Gottman explains the importance of assessment in this short video from a presentation at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium.
So what do we assess in Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
In 1980, John Gottman set out to design a set of written assessment questionnaires. He wanted them to reflect how a couple was doing on each level of the Sound Relationship House, not how they thought they were doing. He then statistically evaluated each questionnaire for reliability and validity. They measure things like friendship, intimacy, emotions, conflict, values, and trust, as well as parenting, housework, and finances. New research findings over the years have led to refinements in the questionnaires, but their basic format has held up over time.
We’ve made assessments simple with the Gottman Relationship Checkup. Have your clients fill out the questionnaires online and an analysis of the relationship is automatically generated for you. You don’t need to be trained in the Gottman Method to use the Gottman Relationship Checkup, and you don’t even need to be a therapist. There is no cost to sign up and the first assessment is free.
We believe that assessments can make a huge difference between grasping in the dark, heading nowhere fast, and following a clear roadmap towards relationship recovery. We’re excited to be working with SimplePractice to help you save time, stay organized, and improve your therapy outcomes.
The Gottman Institute is a SimplePractice Affinity Partner.