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Gottman Method Couples Therapy

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What is the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method is a form of couples therapy developed by Dr. John Gottman and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. It’s based on research conducted over 40 years that focuses on the emotional connection between couples, and the behaviours and communication patterns that underlie it. The Gottman Method aims to help couples create and maintain successful relationships and was initially based on Dr. Gottman’s Sound Relationship House Theory, which outlines nine components that make up the foundation of a strong relationship.

What is the Sound Relationship House Theory?

Developed by Dr. John Gottman, the Sound Relationship House Theory proposes that all relationships are built on certain foundations or “houses” that need to be tended to develop a strong and healthy relationship. The Sound Relationship House Theory outlines nine components that make up the foundation of a strong relationship. These include trust, commitment, friendship, respect, admiration, acceptance, appreciation, communication, and problem-solving.

The Process

Initial Session

Assessment Focussed

Couples attend the first session together. The purpose of the session is to review your relationship history, reason(s) for coming to counselling, and your expectations for the relationship and therapy. At the end of the session, your counsellor will invite you to complete the Gottman Enhanced Relationship Checkup questionnaire. You will complete this questionnaire prior to the second session. It’s important to note, that the questionnaire is not intended to predict the outcome of your relationship but rather to help you and your counsellor gain a more in-depth understanding of your relationship.

Second Session

Assessment Focussed

Each partner will attend an individual session on their own. The purpose of this session is to gather partner-specific information such as personal concerns, family origin story and their respective commitment to the relationship. 

Third Session

Review Focussed

Couples attend the third session together. The purpose of this session is to review the questionnaire results and finalize your therapy plan moving forward. This plan will incorporate areas identified as needing improvement from the first two sessions and from the questionnaire. Your counsellor will also review the Sound Relationship House Theory and re-clarify common goals for your journey forward.

Subsequent Sessions

Therapy Focussed

Couples attend all subsequent sessions together. Each session will involve working on areas outlined in the therapy plan from the third session.

Goals of Couples Therapy

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 in conflicting situations, and build a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.

Where can I find more information about the Gottman Method research?

For more information on Dr. John and Julie Gottman and the Gottman Method, visit their website:

Additionally, the following citations include articles that discuss the effectiveness of the Gottman Method in helping couples.

1. Gottman, J.M., & Gottman, J.S. (2005). The Gottman Method for Treating Couples. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(10), 1239-1252. 

2. Christensen, A. & Jacobson, N.S. (2000). Acceptance and Change in Couple Therapy: A Therapist’s Guide to Transformative Sessions. New York, NY: Norton. 

3. Schrodt, P., & Ledbetter, A.M. (2011). Effects of the Gottman Method Couples Therapy on Marital Satisfaction and Conflict Behavior. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37(4), 463-478.

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