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Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Communicating and managing conflict well is critical but insufficient to fashion the sort of relationship most couples desire for themselves. Most couples therapies focus only on the Conflict System (the basis for couples managing solvable problems and understanding and managing unresolvable differences) and they terminate too soon–without ever strengthing the Friendship System (the building block for intimacy, passion and good sex) or the Shared Mearning System (the existential foundation of the relationship that helps couples create shared purpose in building a life together).

Gottman Method Couples Therapy is based on the work of Dr. John Gottman, author of 190 published academic articles and author or co-author of 40 books including the best-selling The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, The Relationship Cure, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. He is perhaps best known for founding the “Love” lab (the Family Research Laboratory) at the University of Washington to study what makes relationships succeed or fail.

I’ve found Gottman’s therapeutic approach to be holistic, rigorous and comprehensive. Gottman is totally consistent with Susan Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) attachment theory-based therapy, but goes even further. It combines the knowledge and wisdom of 35 years of research and clinical practice. Through research-based assessments, interventions and exercises, it helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection and intimacy in their relationships. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically-based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from research with more than 3,000 couples. The underlying research debunks many popular myths and shows what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship. This therapy was developed out of his research to help couples:

  • Increase respect, affection, and closeness
  • Break through and resolve conflict when they feel stuck
  • Generate greater understanding between partners
  • Keep conflict discussions calm

The research shows that to make a relationship last, couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future. Couples can accomplish this by paying attention to the “Sound Relationship House,” or the seven components of healthy coupleships. Your initial phase of therapy will rigorously assess each of these seven areas of your relationship and that assessment will form the basis for your treatment plan. Even the Gottman Method questionnaires are so well done that they alone will begin to stir you and create positive change even before the treatment phase of therapy begins. The 50+ interventions are equally well designed to strengthen a specific level of the Sound Relationship House.

The Gottman Theory For Making Relationships Work

  • Build Love Maps: How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?
  • Share Fondness and Admiration: The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.
  • Turn Towards: State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and turn towards them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship.
  • The Positive Perspective: The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.
  • Manage Conflict: We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.
  • Make Life Dreams Come True: Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.
  • Create Shared Meaning: Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship. Create “rituals of connection” that you both eagerly look forward to.