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A group of independent counselors serving Kingwood and Houston
Specializing in Gottman MethodTM Couples and Marriage Counseling

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Domestic Violence: Can Couples Therapy Help?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, so I thought I would shed some light on this grim topic.

John Gottman and his colleague, Neil Jacobson, studied domestic violence in couples at The University of Washngton.   They found that there are two distinct types of batterers in violent relationships: Cobras and Pit Bulls.

“Cobras”, like the venomous snake, attack their partner without warning. They have sociopathic, antisocial traits and a pathological need for power and control. Their behavior is calculating and sadistic. Cobras do not tolerate their authority being challenged, with anyone, not just their partners.   They tend to be more violent than pit bulls, yet abused women have a hard time leaving Cobras because of the power and control exerted on them. One unsettling finding that Gottman and Jacobson found in their research is that cobras get more physiologically calm as they get more aggressive, whereas pit bulls experience physiological arousal.

“Pit Bulls”, have stereotypical traits of a vicious dog latching on and not letting go. These men are emotionally dependent on their partners. They fear abandonment and are controlling, jealous and react violently to perceived betrayal. Pit bulls are generally viewed as charming men because their behavior is only directed at one person. Cobras, on the other hand, are aggressive towards everyone in their life, including pets. Abused women can be more successful getting away from Pit Bulls, but Pit Bulls are the ones that can be homicidal when they feel abandoned. When a woman leaves a Cobra, there is still risk, but the Cobra moves on to a new victim more quickly.

These two types are classified under the heading of “Characterological Domestic Violence” because there is clear control and dominance in the abuser and fear in the victim.   Couples therapy is contraindicated in these situations and the abused partner should be referred to a therapist for individual counseling, a women’s shelter and/or law enforcement.

But what about the couples that drinks too much on a Saturday night and end up in a brawl with one another? “Situational Domestic Violence” erupts when couples lack conflict management skills and as their fights escalate, they can turn physical. These couples do not share the traits of Pit Bulls or Cobras and often feel remorse for their actions.

When couples seek help for their relationship, we conduct a thorough assessment, including an assessment of domestic violence. If the therapist deems couples therapy is appropriate for situational domestic violence (not characterological domestic violence), we can work with the couple to learn how to de-escalate arguments. We can also work with couples to recognize and manage physiological arousal and practice self-soothing before arguments turn physical.

To learn more about domestic violence, read Gottman and Jacobson’s book When Men Batter Women.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC

Certified Gottman Therapist

 

Making Life Dreams Come True for Both You and Your Loved Ones

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

My son will be starting high school next year and he must select an area of emphasis to guide him in course selection, such as Law Enforcement or Science and Technology.   His initial reaction was to choose a path that matched his aptitude, not necessarily his passion.

This has generated plenty of discussion around the dinner table.  My husband and I shared how neither one of us followed our intuition or passion and initially wound up in unfulfilling jobs.

One of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer, often says “Don’t die with your music still inside you.”.  In his latest book I Can See Clearly Now, he details the twists and turns his life took and how he always followed his intuition and passion to create a life of purpose and fulfillment.

We all have music inside us and we all have dreams.  Careers should be full of passion, not just paychecks.  But passions also arise in many other areas, such as travel, adventures, sports, creative outlets . . . there is no limit when it comes to passion and dreams.  These are not just bucket-list items to be checked off, but things we feel called to do in our lifetime.

As I reflected on how I arrived in a career that I love, I felt a debt of gratitude for my husband.  He has supported me along the way in more ways that I can count.  And I have done the same for him.

In Gottman Method Couples Therapy, making life dreams come true is at the top of the Sound Relationship House because it is one of the necessary ingredients inSound house relationships that work.  In fact, Gottman believes it is the most important thing.

Initially I was surprised by this statement, but as I now reflect on it, I can see from personal experience that when partners support each others dreams it generates many positive feelings.  We feel heard and supported in our relationship, cherished by our partner and happier in our life.  And I believe the same is true for our children too.

My son’s music is just now emerging, literally.  While he may have an aptitude for math, his passion is creating music.  The teen years are full of inspiration and dreams, and how he navigates his adolescence will have a tremendous impact on the rest of his life.  Helping him to feel safe to explore his dreams and to feel the supported is one of the best gifts I can give him.

It’s my way of paying it forward.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC

Certified Gottman Therapist

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(281) 812-7529

Houston (Kingwood), TX

 

Fifty Shades of Foreplay

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Over the last few months I have had more than one person tell me that Fifty Shades of Grey has spiced up their sex life.

So out of curiosity I joined the ranks of people reading what is now being called “mommy porn”.  And that it is . . . erotica that goes to the edge of pornography, but not hardcore.  Women are exploring their sexuality and realizing they want to be more adventurous in the bedroom.

Erotic fiction is a way for women to explore their fantasies and they are getting turned on by the steamy sex scenes.  The use of sex toys, various positions, locations and submission/dominance scenes is offering some variety to dull sex lives.  In my opinion, probably the more important thing that Fifty Shades is providing is stimulating the brain and the vocal cords.  One of the biggest problems with dull sex lives is that couples do not think about, prepare for or get excited about sexual encounters with their partner like they did during the early phase of their relationship.  Typically during that phase sex is exciting.  Couples plan for it by buying sexy outfits, anticipate having sex and making sure that it happens . . . alot.   Over time these things wane as pregnancy and children enter the picture or as couples stop focusing on their relationship as a priority.

The book series is getting couples talking about sex.  Women are sharing the detailed sex scenes with their partners and talking about their needs and fantasies.  Having intimate conversation with your partner is one of the best ways to rev things up in the bedroom.  Talking to your partner about sex before, during and after the act is the best way to make sure your needs are met.  Sure, erotica can spice things up and be considered normal and healthy, but don’t lose sight of what is important in a relationship, and that involves lots and lots of talking.

Women often wonder what is normal and healthy regarding sex and don’t know where to turn to get answers.  John Gottman, relationship expert and bestselling author, along with his wife Julie, have developed a very good series on sex that guides couples to more intimacy and satisfying sex lives.  Check out www.gottsex.com for more information.  Dr. Laura Berman, psychologist and sexologist, also offers great information on her website and TV/radio programs http://www.drlauraberman.com/homepage

My mission is to help couples have the whole enchilada . . . an emotionally satisfying AND sexually satisfying relationship.

Mary Beth George, MEd, LPC

 

 


Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy Associates provides service to Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Porter, Fall Creek, Summerwood, North Houston and surrounding areas.

Couples Counseling & Psychotherapy Associates

2330 Timber Shadows Drive
Suite 106
Kingwood, Texas 77339
Ph: 281-812-7529

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