The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is one of the most respected and widely-used approaches to couples therapy.

Developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, this approach is supported by over 40 years of clinical research and practice with over 3,000 couples in various phases of their relationships. Based on outcome research, the Gottman Method supports couples of all types and all backgrounds, including couples in same-sex relationships.

Sound Relationship House Theory

The Gottman Method is built on what the Gottmans call the “Sound Relationship House Theory”. Healthy relationships are comprised of 9 key elements that the Gottmans believe are essential to the soundness of the relationship.

Those key elements are:

  • Building love maps (knowing each other’s world)
  • Shared fondness and admiration
  • Turning towards instead of away (from issues/each other)
  • The positive perspective
  • Managing conflict
  • Making life dreams come true
  • Creating shared meaning
  • Trust
  • Commitment

When couples are in distress, it is one or more of these essential elements that are impaired.

What To Expect

So what can you expect if you choose a therapist who uses this method? First, you and your partner will complete an assessment of your marital relationship. This process will include a joint session as well as individual time with the therapist. You and your partner may complete a series of questionnaires.

This process is designed to help your therapist determine an appropriate course of treatment. Once your therapist has gathered all of the needed information, you and your therapist will discuss recommendations and agree on a plan.

The goal of therapy is to improve communication, reduce conflict and increase respect, affection and intimacy between partners. By removing the barriers that keep couples feeling stuck, they can achieve a greater sense of empathy and understanding for each other and as a couple.

You’ll be active in the process. You and your partner will be learning and practicing the skills essential to strengthening each element of your relationship. You’ll learn new ways of interacting with each other that can heal past hurts, how to handle conflicts in a healthy way and enhance feelings of closeness and emotional intimacy.

You’ll also learn ways to maintain the positive changes you’re making. You can expect that your therapist will be very active in the process providing direct coaching and feedback on the skills you’re learning.

For more information about the Gottman Method, visit the Gottman Institute website.

You can learn about other couples therapy methodologies here.

Written by
Dr. Dawn Ferrara, LMFT