My Approach

We’ve had swimming lessons before jumping into deep water; we’ve had driving lessons before getting behind the wheel of a car, and we’ve had schooling for years to prepare for adulthood. However, how many lessons did you have in how to relate successfully in an intimate relationship before making a commitment?

“Zero,” if you’re like almost every other client in my 35+ years of practice. In fact, if you’ve learned anything about intimate relationships, it’s probably come from observing your parents, or you’ve tried to learn from your mistakes, or you may have read some books. However, if any of these tactics worked, you wouldn’t be where you are now.

By the time most couples in a committed relationship make an appointment to see me, partners have a negative perspective of each other and of their relationship. Usually there is gridlocked conflict that, no matter what’s been tried, comes up over and over again. Fondness, admiration, romance, lovemaking, and even feeling attracted to one another may have faded or be missing all together. Many partners have begun to question whether they love their partner, ever loved their partner, or perhaps made a mistake to begin with. It’s sad to note that couples wait on average 6 years from the time a problem becomes gridlocked before seeking outside professional help.

There is hope! Here’s how I can help you:

First, I’ll make an in-depth assessment of your relationship that will include: an initial appointment focused on your present situation, your relationship history, and any goals you might have. At the close of this initial appointment I’ll email you a detailed questionnaire to complete individually without sharing it with your partner. This questionnaire will give me a very detailed picture of what’s not working in your relationship. The next two appointments I’ll see you separately to review your questionnaire and discuss your personal background. After I have all this information, I’ll develop a treatment plan based upon the Gottman Method which we’ll review together.

Read about Common Challenges and Solutions

Three disciplines that I have expertise in (Gottman Method, Enneagram, Narrative Therapy) have proven to be exceptionally instructive and valuable in helping people understand themselves and others and provided insight into their personal and professional relationships.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy™   www.gottman.com 
Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically-based therapy.  Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s three decades of research with more than 3,000 couples.  This research shows us what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship. Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed out of this research to help you and your spouse or partner:

  • Increase respect, affection, and closeness
  • Break through and resolve conflict when you feel stuck
  • Generate greater understanding between you and your partner
  • Keep conflict discussions calm
  • Maintain improvements in your relationship

The Enneagram 
The Enneagram is a dynamic system that describes nine personality types and their interrelationships. Understanding your own type gives you insight into “what makes you tick” and provides a customized roadmap for on-going personal growth.  Understanding other types helps you create more satisfying love, work and family relationships. The nine types are: The Idealist, The Giver, The Achiever, The Romantic, The Observer, The Loyal Skeptic, The Optimist, The Protector, and the Mediator.

Narrative Therapy
The overall goal of narrative therapy is to help people view their problems as external to themselves – to see that the way they view their life is related to specific experiences they have had which continue to influence their personal perspective on the world.  In this scenario, a negative experience can continue to color a person’s life by impacting it with hurt feelings, pain, guilt, anger and so forth.  If you immerse yourself in your problem, the problem continues.  By beginning to see the problem as separate from yourself, you can redefine your life to give it new meaning, a fresh start.

The Gottman Method

 

The Enneagram

Narrative Therapy

 

 

 

Services Provided

Couples Therapy

I work exclusively with couples — just about every kind of couple you can think of — working on just about every kind of problem.

My counseling style has been described as warm and supportive, yet direct and to the point, focused on strengths and solutions rather than on problems. I’m adaptive and flexible, modifying my style and approach in response to the needs of my clients. Clients report that I’m easy to talk to and someone they can trust with their most intimate issues. I truly care and love helping couples solve problems and develop more satisfying relationships.

Many couples work with me to:

  • Learn tested skills to more effectively and skillfully communicate, resolve conflict, handle disagreements, make repairs where there are hurt feelings or unfulfilled needs or expectations, promote harmony, joy, fun and intimacy.
  • Deal directly with a current crisis (i.e. infidelity, illness, sudden life change)
  • Transform anger, hurt and resentment about current or past issues. – Discover how stress pollutes your relationship and what you can do about it.
  • Recognize patterns of interaction that lead to a dead-end and replace these with patterns that lead to greater intimacy and love.
  • Awaken romance, sensuality and passion.

Method and Counseling Style

As your relationship “coach” , I’ll help you rekindle the best of what brought you together and learn how to achieve a more satisfying, healthy relationship.

I work within the frame of Gottman Method Couples Therapy, a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically-based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. John Gottman’s three decades of research with more than 3,000 couples. I have advanced training and experience working with couples on sexual issues. Other methods that inform my work are Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Mindfulness Practices and 12 Step Work. In addition, I may refer to the Enneagram and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to support understanding of personality and style differences between partners.


If you're a new client, please complete the following forms and bring them to your first therapy session.

Helpful Forms

About Me

I have over three decades of experience counseling couples and families. Since entering the counseling field in 1970, I have remained a perpetual student, working to stay current with the latest developments in couple and relationship counseling.  As a result, I can customize my counseling style and technique to fit your individual needs, not the other way around.

Most importantly, I provide a safe, nurturing environment for the deepest intimacy and self-discovery.  I am direct and focused.  A strong voice for compassion and truth, I hold the light of hope and possibility for you until you can see it for yourself. With this clarity and skill comes the power to create a life of richness and joy.

Credentials and Experience

I’ve been a practicing Marriage and Family Therapist since 1978, the year I graduated from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, with an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. I am a Washington State Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (1555) as well as a Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist. Other credentials include: Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT); EMDR/R Level II Practitioner (1994); Certified Enneagram Teacher; graduate of The Gestalt Institute of Miami; and BFA in Theater from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a perpetual student, I continue to seek more effective skills. Among the hundreds of hours of continuing education I’ve received, I have advanced training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Sex Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy and hypnosis. I’m well-versed in 12 Step Work and ACOA issues.

Our Work – My Skills and Your Commitment

Our work is a journey of discovery, of learning and growing. I will guide you to become more skillful at loving and trusting one another and, hopefully, more able to reach the deepest, most tender aspects of intimacy.

I’ve got the skills and know-how to help you. However, you need to be fully committed to the process. This means you need to show up for your appointments, spend quality time with your partner on a regular basis, and do the homework I will assign.

Instead of sessions that end abruptly when “your time is up,” hopefully sessions end gently, with a sense of completion. For this reason, I ask that you set aside at least one and a half hours of time and, if possible, even more so that you have time to reflect on what you’ve learned.

I encourage you to remain steadfast in your commitment. Couples that persevere learn and grow. Gridlock can transform into wonderful possibilities.


Testimonials

We decided to work with Carol after an introductory meet and greet session. We thought she was perceptive and delightful. We really liked that she also has a lifetime of experience in skill development emphasizing what builds love and respect. In our sessions she was a keen observer, sensitive, and practical with us in problem solving. In a dynamic and compassionate way she led us to a huge breakthrough in how we could listen to each other and refine our approach to conflict resolution. She built on that by providing us with the skills and training to help us get ourselves back to a loving and compatible place. Something we really appreciated was that she gave us a lot of great handouts. We still refer back to them. What we as a couple came away with in the end was a shared sense of humor, good will and useful navigation skills to get ourselves past our sticking points. Our love has grown amazingly.  In short, Carol helped us to give our 37 years of marriage a deep refresh. We will always be thankful that we worked with her.  O & J

What’s makes working with Carol so effective is her ability to call it like it is.  She uses a direct approach, and while she is an extremely good listener, and asks great, probing questions, she doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is either.  When I was in counseling with my soon-to-be husband she was very direct in telling each of us how our actions made the other feel and what we needed to do differently if we wanted to build a stronger relationship.  She also has lots of different tools (personality test, innovated therapy treatments) that she uses to vary her approach and help in your development.

Carol, working with you has been and continues to be a valuable tool in helping us to begin our journey as a renewed couple.   You are both assertive and compassionate at the appropriate times.  You are equal to each of us in your guidance and direction.  Your input to our most intimate issues is welcome and comforting. Our Grateful Thanks, C & G

We thank you for helping us negotiate our way toward this big day, and for giving us some very useful and necessary skills and insights for improving our communication and keeping on the bright side of love.  K & C

Thank you so much for your guidance and “tool-set” as we begin the process of healing and reconnecting as a couple. You’ve been a blessing in our lives. S & A

Carol Ruth has helped us learn new and fascinating things about ourselves and our relationship.  We really feel like she listens and understands what we go through.  Her ideas and suggestions come from a place of true caring.  E & J

We went to a number of couple therapists through Group Health but were continually frustrated and finally decided to go outside the system to try to find someone who really understood couple dynamics. We interviewed several potential therapists by phone and Carol stood out for her clarity and empathy. Through our work with Carol, we’ve made improvements in our relationship that have lasted several years.  We’re glad to know that Carol is available whenever we want a “tune up.” We recommend her to other couples we know who are seeking couple therapy.

Contact Me

Couples Counseling

Client Information

If this is an emergency and you're unable to contact me, please call 911 or the King County Crisis Clinic at (206) 461-3222 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.