WHY I BECAME A GOTTMAN COUPLES THERAPIST
Goal to Help Children Led to Specializing in Couples Therapy
By Caralee Frederic, LCSW | Certified Gottman Therapist | Couples Workshop Presenter
I initially pursued a career in psychology and social work because I wanted to help children who were hurting, but quickly found that I could most benefit children by counseling with their parents.
In my passion to help children who were hurt, scared or lonely, I discovered that my weekly therapeutic session with them was like a whisper in a thunderstorm. The home environment was far more critical to the success of treatment plans than my one-hour meetings with patients.
I found that the strength of the parents’ relationship closely correlated with the success of the treatment plan for their child.
Some parents struggled in their own husband-wife relationship and, as expected, they were far too stressed to provide necessary support for their children struggling with serious issues such as depression, ADHD, substance abuse and panic disorders. But even parents with healthy marriages were taxed by the weight of helping their children with mental and emotional disorders. A commonality among nearly all the parents: They desperately sought to learn and acquire the skills needed to help their children.
SPECIALIZING IN COUPLES THERAPY
I decided to change the focus of my specialty from individual therapy for children to couples therapy. However, working with couples required a completely new skill set.
I needed to enhance my university degrees and licensure, so I reviewed and applied a variety of commonly used psychology perspectives, such as systems theory, cognitive-behavioral theory, psychoanalytical theory and narrative therapy. However, none of these clearly demonstrated superiority as a method for couples therapy and I felt I was flying by the seat of my pants more often than not.
In 2003, my search for the right method led me to a Level 1 Clinical Training workshop presented by Dr. John Gottman himself. He is renowned for his decades of research on couples. I had found what I was looking for: A therapy methodology based on science instead of often contradictory popular and anecdotal notions.
I completed my certification as a Gottman therapist, and I incorporate Gottman methods in my work as a private therapist for couples. I also present The Art and Science of Love, an educational workshop for couples and train other therapists in the Gottman method.
I center my work on helping couples attain important relationship skills to foster love and harmony in their relationship – the kind of skills I saw parents desperately seeking many years ago while working with children.
In all my endeavors, I am driven by the idea that relationships are the very essence of life. Grown-ups who feel safe and valued by their partners can successfully create loving and supportive home environments for their children.