Articles by Alex Ryder, Couple's counselling, Uncategorized

What to expect from the Gottman Method and why it is Good for Couples Counselling

Many couples come to Sydney Couple and Family Specialists knowing of the Gottman Method, and wanting to work in that method. They have often heard or read about Gottman Couples Counselling because it has a relatively high profile as a successful couples counselling methodology. 

If you’re new to the Gottman Method, here are some of the things you can expect from Gottman Couples Counselling:

  1. Improved Communication Skills
    You’ll very quickly learn which aspects of your communication style are damaging your relationship. You’ll also learn how to short-circuit the conversational dynamic that leads you and your partner down that well-worn path. Most importantly, you’ll practice ways to generate goodwill in your relationship through productive communication.
  2. Rapid Goal-Oriented Results that Create Momentum
    Gottman Couples Counselling is not a passive approach. Couples say they feel safe and looked after, but also challenged as they work with the new skills they are picking up (‘work’ being an important word here). It doesn’t take long for those skills to make a difference; with most couples feeling positive and mutually supported quite early in the process. That’s a great base from which to do deeper work if it’s needed. 
    Gottman Couples Counselling has a built-in assessment tool. It’s a series of questionnaires the couple completes out of the session. It helps the therapist make sure the work with a couple stays on target, and is efficient and effective.
  3. Something your partner can engage with  
    Many people worry that their partners won’t buy into Couples Counselling. However, I’m yet to find a resistant partner who doesn’t end up engaging fairly comfortably with the Gottman approach. It has a balanced and non-blaming structure that ensures both people feel heard and understood. And the simple concrete concepts are easy for everyone to understand and apply. 
  4. Practical Skills to Implement Immediately
    Beyond the communication skills you will be practicing, you can also expect homework assignments specifically designed to help you and your partner feel like you’re on the same team again.
  5. Improved intimacy and closeness
    As positivity, better communication and safety return to the relationship, you’ll feel more respected by your partner and a whole new level of empathy from them. Intimacy, and feelings of closeness consequently improve.
  6. To move beyond gridlock 
    Part of what sets Gottman Couples Counselling apart is the way it tackles conflict. You’ll learn how to disarm conflictual communication and remove barriers to repair when hurtful communication occurs. You’ll also learn how to approach those issues that seem to be the source of ongoing and repetitive conflict in your relationship.
  7. A way to build trust 
    If your trust has been betrayed or damaged, a Gottman therapist can help you understand the fundamental basis for trust in your relationship and provide you with practical ways to foster that trust.
  8. An empirically validated approach  
    This is one for scientists, data analysts and those of you who like some metrics behind your therapy. You’ll be pleased to know the Gottman method is empirically supported across a huge variety of relationship issues and circumstances. It has been found to be effective regardless of race, religion, sexuality, socio-economic status, and relationship maturity.
  9. …and it’s not just for relationships in crisis 
    The practical communication skills acquired will strengthen and galvanise an already strong relationship. The skills are also designed to help set up a new relationship to avoid the pain and pitfalls so many people in relationships encounter (learn more about that here). 

I am fortunate to be one of the few Couples Therapists in Australia trained in the Gottman methodology. If you think your relationship could benefit from the support of a Gottman trained therapist contact us at Sydney Couple and Family Specialists

About Alex

Alex is an accessible and compassionate therapist.  His clients appreciate that Alex listens with the intention of genuinely understanding them.  He’s lovely with adolescents, who seem to warm to him immediately, and he creates a space in sessions for any or all participants to have their say and feel heard.

Alex’s particular strengths are in the area of working with couples and he has extensive experience and training in this area.  He is both Gottman and Systemically trained and draws on practical ideas that clients can immediately make use of to enhance their relationships.

Alex comes to Sydney Couple and Family Therapy Specialists from backgrounds as a Lifeline Crisis Line Counsellor and Trainer and Therapist at the highly-respected Jansen Newman Institute.  He has supported individuals and couples through trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and adolescent struggles.

Alex has helped many people through intensely frightening and painful life events – and to a place where they have the skills and confidence to carry themselves forward.

Alex is married with a young family and therefore easily relates to the stress and struggles that many couples and young families face today.

“It takes a lot of courage to share a moment of crisis with someone you don’t yet know.  Even more so, to entrust your intimate relationship over to them.

I have been in the fortunate position to be trusted with that responsibility many times and have helped people – through their own bravery, honesty and effort – to transcend their suffering and improve their key relationships.”

Alex also runs the pre-marriage counselling course at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists

Qualifications and Professional Membership

Alex holds a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy from Jansen Newman Institute Sydney, and a Bachelor degree from the University of Sydney.  Alex also holds a Gottman training certificate.

He is a member of the Australian Association of Family Therapy, the Counsellors and Psychotherapist Association of Australia, and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

Why see a Couples Counselor?

Are you wondering if couples counselling is for you? In this interview Alex Ryder answers common questions we hear from people who want to understand more about this process.

And remember, if you are a new client you can book a free 15 minute telephone session with Alex.

“We really like your approach. The other couples counsellor we saw left us stuck in negativity.  Right from the start we felt hopeful with you.  Your positive approach helped us out of the slump, so we could address the real issues.” – Murry (36) married to Tasha (39); One Child (3) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling.

“I’ve wanted to refer you to so many people.  Obviously I haven’t given the circumstances, but we are huge fans and are so grateful for your help.” – Tom (49) married to Sarah (43). Two children; 15 & 13 – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling following an affair.

“I think we told you in our first session that you were the last couples therapist we were going to try. Everything was on the line.  So thank you for… well everything.” – James (55) married to Philippa (53) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship Counselling

If you feel as though you could benefit from talking with a Therapist please contact  The Sydney Couple and Family Specialists on 02 8968 9397 or email

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