The Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

The Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy

The Gottman Approach is a research-based approach to couples therapy that has been shown to be effective in helping couples improve their communication, resolve conflict, and strengthen their relationships.

Gottman Method
Sound Relationship House Gottman Method

What is the Gottman Approach?

The Gottman Approach is based on the idea that all relationships go through ups and downs, and that it is possible to learn how to weather the storms and come out stronger on the other side. The approach focuses on helping couples to:

  • Understand their own and their partner’s emotional needs.
  • Communicate effectively with each other.
  • Resolve conflict in a healthy way.
  • Build trust and intimacy.
  • Maintain a positive outlook on their relationship.

How does the Gottman Approach work?

The Gottman Approach is typically conducted over a series of weekly or biweekly sessions. In each session, the therapist or psychologist will work with the couple to:

  • Identify their strengths and weaknesses as a couple.
  • Learn how to communicate effectively with each other.
  • Resolve conflict in a healthy way.
  • Build trust and intimacy.
  • Maintain a positive outlook on their relationship.

The Gottman Approach is a comprehensive and effective approach to couples therapy that has been shown to help couples improve their relationships and build a strong foundation for a happy future together.

If you are interested in learning more about the Gottman Approach, or if you think that it might be helpful for you and your partner, please talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. We have several psychologists and therapists at D’Arienzo Psychology who employ the Gottman Method. Call us today!

More About How Gottman Therapy Works?

The Gottman Method is a type of couple’s therapy that was developed by psychologists John and Julie Gottman. It is based on research into what makes relationships successful and aims to improve verbal communication, increase intimacy, increase respect, increase affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy, and create more empathy and understanding within the relationship.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. Assessment: The process starts with an assessment phase, where the therapist or psychologist will first meet with the couple together, then individually. This is to gather information about the relationship history, individual backgrounds, and the couple’s perceived issues and strengths.
  2. Therapeutic Framework: After the assessment, the therapist or psychologist and the couple decide on the frequency and aims of therapy. The therapist or psychologist provides feedback based on the initial assessment and collaboratively sets treatment goals with the couple.
  3. Therapeutic Interventions: The therapist or psychologist then uses specific therapeutic interventions, based on the couple’s needs. This can include techniques to improve conflict management, enhance friendship and intimacy, and create shared meaning. The Gottman Method includes skill-building exercises that the couple can do in therapy and at home.
  4. Phases of Therapy: There are generally three phases of therapy – increasing positivity, managing conflict, and creating shared meaning. The initial phase focuses on building positivity and mutual appreciation in the relationship. The next phase involves teaching the couple how to manage conflict effectively without damaging the relationship. In the final phase, the couple works on deepening their understanding of each other and creating shared goals and values.
  5. Use of “The Sound Relationship House” Model: This model is a key component of Gottman therapy. It’s a metaphorical model that represents different aspects of a relationship, like trust, commitment, love maps (how well you know your partner’s psychological world), shared meaning, and so on. The therapist or psychologist uses this model to guide the therapy.
  6. ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’: Gottman identified four major negative behaviors, which he calls ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’, that are destructive to relationships: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Part of Gottman therapy involves identifying these behaviors and working on replacing them with positive ones.
  7. Relapse Prevention: After the couple has successfully reached their goals, the therapist and psychologist will guide them through discussions on relapse prevention, reinforcing their new skills and understanding of the relationship.
  8. Home Practice: Homework is often assigned to help couples practice the skills they learn in therapy.

The ultimate goal of Gottman therapy is to improve the couple’s relationship satisfaction and stability while helping both partners to feel understood and valued.