What Is Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
The Gottman Method is a form of couples’ therapy that draws on over 30 years of research conducted by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman in which they identified the specific elements it takes for relationships to last over time and to be highly satisfying. Gottman Method Couples Therapy starts with an assessment of the relationship in which specific challenges and strengths are identified. This enables the therapist to focus directly on the needs of each couple. Gottman-trained therapists help couples build stronger relationships overall and develop healthier ways to cope with issues as they arise in the future.
One of the major insights of this scientific, evidence-based approach is that, in the dynamics of relationships, negative emotions like defensiveness and contempt have more power to hurt a relationship than positive emotions have to help a relationship. As a result, the structured therapy focuses on learning and practicing tools to help partners:
- Strengthen positive interactions
- Develop greater understanding
- Maintain fondness and admiration
- Turn toward each other to get their needs met (especially when they are hurting)
- Better cope with stress
- Manage conflicts calmly and constructively
Therapeutic interventions are designed to help couples in three main areas:
- Friendship and respect
- Conflict management
- Creation of shared values
Couples learn to replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Interventions designed to increase closeness and intimacy are used to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and solidify the couple’s shared goals. Maintaining gains made in therapy is also an important part of the therapy.
Who Can Benefit from The Gottman Method?
Because the Gottman Method is derived from research and practice with more than 3,000 couples of all types and at all stages of life, it can be used to educate committed partners in the early stages of a relationship (as in pre-marital therapy or after the birth of a first child), as well as to restore healthy functioning to distressed couples, whether gridlocked in chronic or escalating conflicts, engaging in other destructive patterns, or becoming increasingly distant from each other.
The Gottman Method is designed to support couples across all economic, racial, sexual orientation, and cultural sectors. Research has shown Gottman Method Couples Therapy to be effective for treating same-sex relationships. Some of the relationship issues that may be addressed in therapy include:
- Frequent conflict and arguments
- Poor communication
- Emotionally distanced couples on the verge of separation
- Specific concerns such as sexual difficulties, betrayal and broken trust, finances, and parenting conflicts.
Even couples with “normal” levels of conflict may benefit from the Gottman Method Couples Therapy.
The Sound Relationship House which is based on Drs. John and Julie Gottman’s research specifies nine components of healthy relationships and serves to provide a structure for assessing and understanding a couple’s dynamics and determining where intervention is needed.