Couples Therapies & The Best Approach for You

Quick Training Overview: Watch & Listen with Jacqui

About the Gottman Method of Couples Counselling

TGI Logo

The Gottman Method Couples Therapy, developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, is a research-based approach focused on strengthening relationships and resolving conflicts.

Grounded in decades of scientific study, it emphasises fostering friendship, managing conflict constructively, and building shared meaning in relationships. The method involves assessment tools, interventions, and exercises designed to improve communication, deepen understanding, and enhance emotional connection between partners, ultimately aiming to promote long-term relationship satisfaction and resilience.

Jacqui has completed levels, 1,2 & 3 of the Gottman method training, and has also completed the Treating Affairs & Trauma course.

“I use the Gottman’s comprehensive couples assessment tool when working with all new couples. It helps us all get clarity on the relationship dynamics at play, and it’s key for us to use our time wisely together.

And by identifying areas of strength as well as weaknesses, we can tailor our work together, so you can keep doing what’s working well, and also focus on where we need to, and get the improvements in your relationship sooner.”

Gottman Sound Relationship House

About Relational Life Therapy - Terry Real

Terry Real is known for his innovative approaches to couples therapy and relational healing.

Terry created Relational Life Therapy and it’s designed to transform relationships by addressing underlying patterns of power, with a focus on relational skills to improve intimacy, and communication. There is also a focus on trauma and self-esteem, and how that affects the relationship. The trauma work I find especially useful when helping couples navigate deep-seeded issues from the past.

RLT is a refreshing style of therapy, and the concepts are often easier for couples to grasp than Gottman’s approach.

RLT has an emphasis on dismantling defensive postures, and building emotional honesty, while promoting accountability within the relationship. Through relational insights and practical techniques, RLT helps empower individuals and couples to create a fulfilling relationship grounded in trust.

Terry has written many helpful books for couples and therapists as well.

Jacqui has completed levels, 1,2 & 3 of  Relational Life Therapy. Jacqui has also completed many of the additional RLT modules that focus on specific themes, including: ‘Working with Infidelity’ ‘Working with Men’ ‘The Relational Brain’ to name a few.

“Including Terry’s approach in the work I do has been game changing for couples. From deep trauma-recovery work to communication tools like the ‘Feedback Wheel’, it’s a warm and effective approach that couples appreciate.”

“Terry’s training has been a great addition to my Gottman training, and I can adapt how I work, based on the couples needs.”

Terry Real - Relationship Grid
Terry Real - Relationship Grid

Developmental Model of Couples Therapy

The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy by Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, is a therapeutic approach that views the challenges couples face through the lens of their developmental stages and abilities.

The developmental model integrates concepts from attachment theory, differentiation theory, and neuroscience to understand the dynamics of the relationship.

This approach has a focus on addressing each partner’s developmental needs to better manage conflict and tension in communication, and the relationship.

In addition, the model covers a wide base of themes specific for couples work, including, emotional maturity, communication skills, and understanding different couple’ styles & stages of relationship.

I find the model useful for supporting the work I do using Gottman & RLT. The model is handy for psycho-education and for looking at a couples scenario from a different point of view.

Jacqui has completed the Developmental Model of Couples Training.

“While I now use Gottman, RLT and my own resources, more and more, I am a better couples counsellor for having completed the Developmental Model of training. It has given me a deeper understanding of a couples situation and helps us empathise with each other on ‘where we are at’ in life.”

“The training I consider foundational for couples counselling and supports the approach I take.”

About Emotional Focus Therapy

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is an approach to couples counselling developed by Dr. Sue Johnson. As the name implies, it’s based on attachment theory and helping the couples understand the emotional strengths and weaknesses between each partner.

This focus helps couples identify and express their underlying emotions and needs. I use Robert Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotion with my clients, to help couples connect on a deeper level, and empathise with each other.

“I find EFT is inherently ‘baked into’ RLT and other frameworks like the Developmental Model. I find ’emotional focus’ especially helpful for clients to identify their negative patterns of behaviour, and broaden their emotional vocabulary. Doing so, promotes more awareness and builds healthy secure attachment and trust.”

“I use the emotional-based therapies in my supporting work with couples. Such as in my ‘Think, Love & Kindness’ module, that helps clients understand their ‘feelings’ and patterns of behaviour. Using mindfulness meditation, it builds new awareness and strengthens the empathy and connection in the relationship.”

“I also find the concepts in EFT useful for clients to visualise their future together, and include rich-emotionally driven motivation toward achieving their dreams and goals.”

Jacqui's Therapeutic Frameworks & Resources

Smooth Conversations

Watch and listen how I blend Gottman and RLT with Smooth Conversations, our communication cards, to help you have calm, respectful conversations, feel heard, understood and promote unity and harmony in your relationship.

Life Values

Our Life Values cards are particularly useful for couples in a number of ways.

  1. Identifying your personal core values, and having a conversation with your partner about them, allows you to feel heard and take in the ‘big picture view’.
  2. Shared values are particularly helpful at starting the repair process, and building a solid foundation. See the Gottman’s Sound Relationship House, for an example of how Life Values underpins all the work we do.

Love Sparks - Relationship Affirmations

Love Sparks are our fun, unique, yet powerful relationship affirmations. They shift the needle, and create positive sentiment in your relationship. They help you open up, and express your needs, and ‘show’ your love toward your partner.

They are an effective tool for ‘turning towards’ each other, and lowering defensiveness.

Couples use them on a daily basis to spark affection, fun, and even deeper conversations, especially when combined with our other resources.

Love Sparks cover 10 specific themes for healthy relationships, and it’s this depth, that helps build real relationship resilience.

Jacqui's Empowering Resources for Couples

Love Sparks by Jacqui Hogan
Love Sparks
Smooth Conversations by Jacqui Hogan
Smooth Conversations
Save My Marriage Program by Jacqui Hogan
Save My Marriage Program
Life Values by Jacqui Hogan
Life Values

Speciality Areas & Common Therapeutic Approaches

Infidelity & Betrayal

Infidelity and betrayal are breaches of trust and intimacy within a relationship, causing immense emotional pain and upheaval. About a third of couples who see me, identify infidelity as their primary concern.

Couples grappling with infidelity are suffering from a range of emotions, including feeling hurt, angry, confused and heart-broken.

I rely on the high quality structures within the Gottman Method and Relational Life Therapy (RLT) to help clients navigate their way through this difficult time.

Together we look at what lead to the infidelity, and the things that contributed to the breach of trust. It’s through understanding that we can strengthen the relationship, as part of what we do is about prevention and building resilience in your relationship.

Here, I use the Gottman’s Sound Relationship House theory, to help couples visualise all the parts that make up a happy and successful relationship.

RLT offers a compassionate yet direct approach to addressing infidelity and betrayal. And is particularly effective at ‘cutting through the bullshit’ that can sometimes surround infidelity.

RLT is also very effective at evaluating the power dynamics in a relationship, in a kind and respectful way.

I use the RLT framework for inner-child work, and find it very effective for the deep work needed, to help couples be vulnerable, open up, turn toward each other, and find forgiveness.

By integrating my own resources, including Life Values and Smooth Conversations, with established methodologies like the Gottman Method and Relational Life Therapy; we have a robust framework to help couples through infidelity and betrayal.

And this is where my Save My Marriage program shines. It’s is an all encompassing package, to restore your relationship built on a new foundation of trust, respect, love and forgiveness.

infidelity and betrayal

Broken Communication

Poor communication, arguments and conflict in relationships are primary signs of misunderstanding and emotional distance. Left unchecked, your relationship will suffer the consequences and you’ll drift further apart.

Therapeutic approaches like Gottman Method and RLT help you pinpoint problem areas and address communication breakdowns using specific exercises.

I also use our Smooth Conversations cards, and shared values exercises to help foster a strong connection, and have tricky conversations on sensitive topics. Here it’s important to also consider self-awareness, and how you manage your emotions, so you can lower your defensiveness, practice self-soothing and feel comfortable at talking about sensitive topics.

I use the Gottman Method’s evidence-based interventions like the ‘Dreams Within Conflict’ technique and ‘Aftermath of a Fight’ extensively to facilitate discussion.

For my couples who respond well to RLT style therapies, the Feedback Wheel is a great go-to resource for talking through a complaint or lingering problem in the relationship.

Terry’s work on ‘relational mindfulness’, I find ground breaking, and he has a particular knack for distilling complex ideas down into short phrases and easy to understand bullet points, and diagrams.  These diagrams and easy-to-grasp concepts make it easy for my clients to understand what’s going on in their relationship and make a call as to what to change. For example, the ‘Relationship Grid’ that explores grandiosity & shame is particularly powerful.

broken communication


Childhood trauma or past trauma can impact on a couples current relationship.

The trauma influences patterns of behaviour, communication styles, and emotional dynamics, like avoidance, withdrawal, or angry outbursts for example.

Both Gottman and RLT recognise the effects of trauma on couples’ relationships.

I see unresolved trauma showing up in my clients lives, affecting the quality of their relationships. From difficulty trusting, fears around feeling vulnerable, and distancing from intimacy and connection for example.

The low levels of trust, and lack-lustre emotional connection between partners needs to be addressed, or the needs of the relationship will never be met.

RLT and other compassionate therapies are excellent tools to help guide couples towards healing and resolution.

Our Love Sparks cards help couples make a ‘bid for connection’ and create positive sentiment in the relationship. At the same time they educate couples, and introduce them to a deeper vocabulary to express their feelings.

Likewise, my special module on Self-compassion in our members area is specifically designed to usher in a new sense of self-worth to feel valued in the relationship and beyond.

trauma in relationships

Mental Health

Mental health issues like anxiety and depression significantly impact couples relationships. Data from couples seeking help with me shows that 42% of couples indicate that one or both partner have a current or historic mental health concern.

Mental health issues influence communication, emotional intimacy, and the overall quality of the relationship. 

Left unmanaged, depression, anxiety, or trauma can increase the severity of arguments and conflict. Break trust through lies, or unreliable behaviour.

It’s important to note that mental health, takes it’s toll on both partners of the relationship, and can be an additional strain on the relationship, compounding other problems present.

Both the Gottman’s and RLT emphasise the importance of addressing mental health related issues before or alongside marriage counselling.

Creating a supportive environment with open communication, and ’emotional attunement’ is particularly important so couples can talk-through and navigate these challenges together. It’s all about supporting each other, something that individual counselling or group therapy for example, might miss.

RLT I find particularly helpful for evaluating when to have Couples Counselling, and when to seek individual therapy.

I include holistic wellness in the way I work to promote healthy minds and bodies for healthy relationships.

Being open to all the therapeutic interventions for mental health in context of the relationship, allows for couples to develop a fresh understanding for each other, and be there to support each other, as they develop a more resilient and loving relationship.

Couples Counselling with Jacqui


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