The Gottman Method is an approach to couples therapy that includes a thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship and integrates research-based interventions based on the Sound Relationship House Theory.
The goals of Gottman Method Couples Therapy are to disarm conflicting verbal communication; increase intimacy, respect, and affection; remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy; and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship. There are several things that are unique (and in my opinion superior) about Gottman Method Couples Therapy compared to other forms of couples therapy and why I have personally chosen to learn and practice the Gottman approach.
1. The Gottman approach is based on DECADES of very structured, sound and insightful longitudinal research on relationships, relationship interactions experiments, couples’ workshops and their couples’ therapy. Their research is unique and incredibly thorough; including the use of an apartment laboratory at the University of Washington where couples lived and were videotaped for 24-hour periods. Not only did they record and analyze each interaction and facial expression, but they obtained data on respiration, electrocardiograms, blood velocity to the ear and finger, skin conductance, gross motor movement, urinary stress hormones, and blood samples for immunological assays. In the love lab, Gottman and his researchers were able to pick up on patterns, or relationship “signatures,” that the conscious mind doesn’t pick up.
2. Based on the above-mentioned research the Gottman’s can predict divorce based on a 15-minute conversation between couples with up to a 94% accuracy rate. In the world of psychology and human interaction, this accuracy is frankly dumbfounding and unprecedented!
3. Above and beyond the depth and breadth of research that the Gottman’s and colleagues have conducted and amassed over decades of research, the unique partnership and marriage between John and Julie Gottman (one research scientist, one clinician) has provided a unique and precious opportunity for the continuous combination of both the
research and clinical perspectives, which has given life to many of the interventions and continuous refinements that have become part of the Gottman Method. What could be more powerful and insightful than a researcher and a clinician testing and utilizing their own strategies for decades of their own marriage?
4. The Gottman Method approach to couples therapy includes a very thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship BEFORE beginning any therapy. This is crucial. Imagine the difference between going to a doctor for a physical problem and one doctor sees you walk in and starts to prescribe their treatment, while the other doctor first does a thorough physical exam, does a thorough patient history, and investigates a number of labs such as blood work. Which doctor is being more thorough, is likely more accurate in their diagnosis and treatment approach and thus will have higher success at treatment outcomes? The same goes for counselling. I would much rather do an assessment to know where the problems lie, than just start aiming in the dark.
5. The Gottman Method is an integrative approach that incorporates aspects of affective work (emotions), behavioural, existential, cognitive, narrative, systemic and psychodynamic couple therapy. This makes it very easy to tailor the couple therapy to the strengths and challenges facing each individual couple seen in therapy.
6. Learning the Gottman method and their therapy techniques in action is literally nothing short of amazing. They are able to transform couples, their interactions, attitudes and arguments right before your eyes. It is extraordinary to see these techniques put into practice.
7. The Gottman method is backed by the Gottman Institute, which is replete with support, training, materials, courses, etc. so that both therapists and students (couples) benefit from the systems that they have taken decades to put together. They have also written a plethora of invaluable books on various aspects of relationships including The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
8. When you look at the above 7 points, it only follows that the Gottman method is a powerful set of tools which can and do transform relationships for the better. The skills and insights in the Gottman method are truly what most of us need to have more successful, fulfilling, loving, satisfying relationships, but weren’t taught in home or in school! Relationships and marriage are hard. One only has to look at the high rates of divorce to see that so many people are struggling, unhappy, & dissatisfied. The great news is that this doesn’t have to be the status quo. All people need is the right tools at their disposal and to learn how to use them.
If you’re interested in learning more about Gottman Couples Therapy or attending a workshop on The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, please e-mail Sheri MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 403-512-1221, or sign up online at: