What is the Gottman method? (2023)

The Gottman Method is a type ofcouple therapydeveloped by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. The interventions used in the Gottman Method are research-based and grounded in Sound Relationship House theory, which explains in detail nine elements of a healthy relationship.

The Gottman Method aims to "turn off conflicting verbal communication; increase intimacy, respect and affection; remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnation and create a greater sense of empathy and understanding in the context of the relationship."

History of the Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is based on decades of research. For more than 40 years, John Gottman has conducted hundreds of empirical studies with more than 3,000 couples. During that time, he and his colleague Robert Levenson conducted a series of longitudinal studies that found that some marriages end in divorce, while others are successful because of the way couples interact.

Couples' interactions are fairly stable over time and approximately 69% of relationship problems are never resolved due to differences in the couples' personalities.

Of course, all couples argue and have negative interactions. Still, Gottman discovered that this is how couplesnavigation conflictand the emotions they express will ultimately determine who stays together and who gets divorced.

First, couples who stay together experience at leastfive positive interactions for every negative interactionduring the conflict. Additionally, couples who broke up exhibited a high level of behaviors that Gottman calls the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," including:

  • Criticism
  • defensiveness
  • Contempt
  • Obstructionor withdraw from the interaction

Gottman's research led to his work with his wife, Schwartz Gottman, which resulted in the creation of the House of Sound Ratios theory and interventions employed by the Gottman Method.

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Gottman Method Techniques

The theory of the house of strong relationships is the foundation ofgottman method. He uses a house as a metaphor for a secure marriage. The theory identifies seven "floors" that a couple can move through to improve their relationship, along with two "load-bearing walls" that are essential to holding the couple together.These are the following:

  • Build love maps:This is the first floor of the Sound Relationship House and involves couples getting to know each other's inner psychological worlds.
  • Share love and admiration:On this floor, couples learn to openly express appreciation and respect for each other to strengthen their bond.
  • Turn towards, not away:This floor involves learning to sense when your partner is seeking attention, affection, and comfort, and responding accordingly.
  • The positive outlook:This floor helps partners learn to see themselves in a positive light, allowing them to see mistakes as circumstantial problems, not individual failures.
  • Manage conflicts:On this floor, couples learn to manage conflict through a three-step process. First, partners take each other's feelings into account. Then the partners learn to discuss their problems. Finally, when a partner begins to feel overwhelmed during the conflict, he learns techniques to calm down and stay calm.
  • Fulfill the dreams of life:The penultimate floor focuses on supporting and defending your partner in their dreams and goals.
  • Create Shared Meaning:The last floor mirrors the first floor in the sense that it is about understanding an inner world, but in this case it is the inner world of the couple and it is about discovering the rituals and stories that have shared meaning for them.
  • Trust and commitment:Sound Relationship House's two load-bearing walls help couples work across all seven floors. Trust allows couples to believe that they can trust each other and feel like they are a team, and commitment means that couples have agreed to stay together and improve their relationship.

Clearly, each floor of the Sound Relationship House represents an opportunity for couples to develop new skills that will strengthen their relationship. Gottman therapists use this theory to guide their work with couples.

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How the Gottman method can help

Based on his research, John Gottman states that while couples feel that their individual relationships are unique, marital conflict falls into just two categories: resolvable conflict and perpetual conflict.Because most conflicts are perpetual, the Gottman Method focuses specifically on helping couples learn to live with this type of conflict.

Since the Gottman Method focuses on this, it can help with a wide range ofcouple problems, from frequent arguments to infidelity and emotional detachment, which may seem unique, but deep down they are usually the result of a perpetual conflict.

The Gottman Method can even help couples who don't feel their level of conflict is problematic, but are looking to better understand their relationship.Therapy is designed to help people at any stage of their relationship and regardless of their race, class, or cultural identity. Research has shown that it is also effective for same-sex couples.

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(Video) What is Gottman’s Theory for Couples Therapy? | ‘Sound Marital House Theory’ MFT Model Review

Benefits of the Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is unique in its approach to perpetual versus resolvable conflicts. Understanding this difference is part of how this form of therapy can help couples positively change their relationship. By learning new ways to deal with perpetual conflict, couples can replace negative conflict patterns with healthier ones.

Also, because the Gottman Method is backed by rigorous research, many of the interventions are specific. They include actionable steps that help couples leave each session with an understanding of what to do to continue working on their issues outside of therapy.

Also, learning these steps will help couples in the long run. Even after therapy, they can continue to apply these skills and techniques, preventing them from falling back into their old negative patterns.

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Effectiveness of the Gottman Method

Studies have shown that the Gottman Method is highly effective. In addition to consulting with an individual therapist, the Gottman Institute also offers workshops and retreats.

A randomized clinical trial evaluated couples one year after attending a one- and two-day workshop or after a workshop followed by nine Gottman Method couples therapy sessions. The trial found that everything was effective. Although the most effective option, which also resulted in fewer relapses, was to combine a two-day workshop with nine therapy sessions.

Also, a study of Gottman Method couples therapy found that, after 10 sessions, it was an effective treatment for improving relationships, compatibility, and intimacy.

What to expect from the Gottman method

Couples therapy with the Gottman Method begins with an evaluation, which begins with a joint session between the couple and the therapist.

The therapist talks to each member of the couple individually. Additionally, couples can complete questionnaires developed as part of the Gottman Method. Together, this will allow the therapist to form a complete picture of the relationship that she can use to provide feedback to the couple on the stability of their relationship and to decide what interventions will be most valuable to the couple.

What are the three main components of Gottman Method therapy?

Gottman Method interventions are designed to improve three key areas of a relationship:

  • Amistad
  • Ability to manage conflicts.
  • Creating Shared Goals

As a result, in therapy couples will learn to improve interactions to move from the negative to the positive and deepen the emotional connection.

Gottman Method therapists not only focus on improving skills within the relationship, but also use the research on which the therapy is based to educate couples about the components of the relationship.healthy relationships. This gives couples a greater understanding of their relationship dynamics and tools to maintain their relationship for the long term.

What is the Gottman Repair Checklist?

The Repair Checklist is a list of phrases you can use in certain situations that can help you better express how you feel, apologize more effectively, show your partner that you appreciate them, and much more.

(Video) What is Gottman Method Couples Therapy?

things to consider

One of the main things to consider before deciding to see a Gottman therapist is their commitment to working on your relationship. The Gottman Method can be rigorous and intense, and therapists expect couples to continue using the skills they learned in therapy outside of sessions. As a result, those who are not prepared to focus on improving their relationship in this way may not benefit from the Gottman Method.

Furthermore, the Gottman Method isnot recommendedfor couples experiencing physical domestic violence. While this form of therapy can help with many relationship problems, couples therapy cannot change patterns of physical violence. Instead, this issue should be addressed by a domestic violence specialist, a shelter, or the police.

If you or a loved one is the victim of domestic violence, contact theNational Domestic Violence HotlineNo1-800-799-7233to receive confidential assistance from trained attorneys.

For more mental health resources, check out ourNational Database of Support Lines.

First steps with the Gottman method

If couples therapy seems like too much of a commitment, the Gottman Institute currently offers atwo days workshop,two day couples retreat,webinars, it's aonline training program at your own pace.Workshops and retreats can be done in person and online, giving couples greater flexibility. These options will help you get started with the Gottman Method and may even be all you need, depending on the level of help you're looking for.

The Gottman Institute offers aGottman Certified Couples Therapist DirectoryFor those who want to do couples therapy. In addition to being licensed master's or doctoral therapists, Gottman therapists have received additional training through the Gottman Institute and have become certified in this particular method of couples therapy. In addition to face-to-face sessions, many Gottman-trained couples therapists are also available foronline sessions.

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9 fuentes

Verywell Mind only uses high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processfor more information on how we verify and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. About the Gottman Method.Instituto Gottman. 2021.

  2. search summary.Instituto Gottman. 2021.

  3. Gottman JM.What does the divorce provide?. . . . Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum; 1994.

  4. ¿Qué es Sound Relationship House?.Instituto Gottman. 2021.

  5. Gottman JM.The seven principles to make a marriage work. New York: Crown Publishing Group; 2002.

  6. Garanzini S, Yee A, Gottman J et al.Results of the Gottman Method couples therapy with gay and lesbian couples.J Family Marriage. 2017;43(4):674-684. doi:10.1111/jmft.12276

  7. Instituto Gottman.The Empirical Basis of Gottman Method Therapy.2013.

  8. Davoodvandi M, Nejad SN, Farzad V.Examining the effectiveness of Gottman's couples therapy in improving couples' marital adjustment and intimacy.Iran J Psychiatry. 2018;13(2):135-141.

  9. About the Gottman Method.Instituto Gottman. 2021.

(Video) Making Marriage Work | Dr. John Gottman

What is the Gottman method? (1)

Bycynthia viney
Cynthia Vinney, PhD is an expert in the psychology of the media and a published scholar whose work has been published in peer-reviewed psychology journals.

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(Video) Therapy Session: Couples Counseling - Gottman Method - Dreams Within Conflict. Kim Lampson, PhD


What are the three main components of Gottman method? ›

Interventions are designed to help couples strengthen their relationships in three primary areas: friendship, conflict management, and creation of shared meaning.

What is the Gottman Method of Counselling? ›

The Gottman Method is an approach to couples therapy that includes a thorough assessment of the couple relationship and integrates research-based interventions based on the Sound Relationship House Theory (the foundation of Gottman Method Therapy).

Is the Gottman method effective? ›

Dr. John Gottman conducted a longitudinal study of 52 married couples, which concluded in 1992. During the research, he identified negative communication patterns and predicted divorce with a 93.6% accuracy.

Can the Gottman Method save a marriage? ›

It can! The NEW Gottman Relationship Adviser takes the guesswork out of improving your relationship. Measure your relationship health with a research-based self-assessment, then receive a tailored digital relationship plan proven to heal and strengthen your connection.

What are the three C's in marriage? ›

A strong and healthy relationship is built on the three C's: Communication, Compromise and Commitment. Think about how to use communication to make your partner feel needed, desired and appreciated.

What do couples fight most about Gottman? ›

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, John Gottman reveals that the number one thing that couples fight about is exactly that: nothing.


1. The Science of Love | John Gottman | TEDxVeniceBeach
(TEDx Talks)
2. What is Gottman Method Marriage Counseling and is it different from other forms of Couples Therapy?
(The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh)
3. The 7 Principles For Making Marriage Work by John Gottman - Relationship Advice ► Book Summary
(One Percent Better)
4. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse | The Gottman Institute
(The Gottman Institute)
5. How Gottman Method Couples Therapy Starts
(A Better Love with Dr. Greg)
6. The Gottman Conflict Blueprint Part 1
(Recamft Director)
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