The Gottman Method. Relationships are difficult. We all have our own experiences in life that have shaped us into who we are. We have our own opinions and worldviews. And they don’t always coincide with the way others feel. And that is especially true with romantic partners. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean the relationship is safe and good to go. The greatest relationships have been through struggle. The members of those relationships continue to choose to fight for those relationships every single day. These relationships take a lot of effort, time, communication, and compromise. And we have to remember that a relationship isn’t failing because two people are having a hard time connecting. It just means two humans are having difficulty understanding one another – which is a totally normal thing!
How many times have you vented to your mom or used your friends as a sounding board when issues in your relationship arise? It isn’t unheard of to want advice (hopefully unbiased) during times of struggle. Who better to be a sounding board than a trusted relationship therapist – certain to be unbiased and create a bridge between those longing to be connected again? This brings us to our treatment topic today – the Gottman Method. The Gottman Method is an approach to couples’ therapy that includes a thorough assessment of the couple’s relationship. The method also infuses research-based interventions based on the Sound Relationship House theory.
What is the Gottman Method?
The Gottman Method was developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman in the 1980s. It is an evidence-based form of couples’ therapy that aims to assist conflicting couples. Goals are to achieve a deeper sense of understanding, awareness, empathy, and connectedness in the relationship. This method combines therapeutic interventions with couple exercises to heighten intimacy and cultivate interpersonal growth
Breaking Down the Gottman Method
There is a framework that all couples move through when utilizing the Gottman Method:
Consists of a conjoint session, followed by individual interviews with each partner. Couples complete questionnaires and receive detailed feedback on their relationship.
Couples collaborate with the therapist to decide on the frequency and duration of sessions.
Interventions are designed to help couples strengthen their relationships through three primary areas: friendship, conflict management, and the creation of shared meaning. Couples learn to replace their negative habits and conflict patterns with positive interactions. These interventions aim to increase closeness and intimacy to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and prevent relapse.
The Sound Relationship House Theory
The goals of the Gottman Method are to disarm conflicting verbal communication by increasing positive and effective pattern shifting. Drs. John and Julie Gottman developed the Sound Relationship House Theory, which consists of nine components:
Build Love Maps
Asks how well you know your partner – their psyche, past, worries, stresses, joys, goals, and dreams.
Share Fondness and Admiration
Fondness and admiration are the opposite of contempt. Couples focus on affection and respect within the relationship.
Don’t Turn Away
Show up entirely to the relationship. Be honest in sharing your needs, be aware of moments of connection, and always turn towards your partner rather than away from them.
Continually choosing a positive approach to problem-solving.
Conflict is a natural part of the human experience. It’s unrealistic to think there will not be conflict within a romantic relationship. A conflict has functional, even positive, aspects to it. There is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.
Make Life Dreams Come True
Create an environment that encourages honesty in regard to their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and convictions.
Create Shared Meaning
Understanding the important shared relationship visions, narrative, myths, and metaphors about the relationship.
Trust occurs when a person knows their partner is truly there for them. That their partner acts with their best interests at heart over their own.
Commitment means waking up each morning and actively choosing the relationship. Meaning that you believe your relationship is with the person you will spend your life with – for better or worse. It implies you will cherish and value your partner, helping them grow to be the best they can be through positivity and love.
Who Benefits from the Gottman Method?
In the New York Times bestselling book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman writes, “Although you may feel your situation is unique, we have found that all marital conflicts fall into two categories: Either they can be resolved, or they are perpetual, which means they will be part of your lives forever, in some form or another.” Gottman also goes on to say that “69% of marital conflicts are perpetual problems”. This is why the treatment goes into focusing on such problems.
The Gottman Method is designed to support every couple. Economic status, race, sexual orientation, and cultural sectors do not have an effect on the treatment. Some of the relationship issues that may be addressed in therapy include:
- Frequent conflict and arguments
- Poor communication
- Emotionally distanced couples on the verge of separation
- Specific problems such as sexual difficulties, infidelity, money, and parenting
Even Normal Couples Can Benefit
Couples with “normal” amounts of conflict can also benefit from the Gottman Method. Everyone could use insight into positive choice cycles and the ability to cope with issues. When you become aware of your issues and the habits you’ve formed in the past, large arguments could become simple communicative conversations. This allows you to live with less stress and find joy in your life.
CPA and the Gottman Method
At CPA, we have a number of therapists who are certified in the Gottman Method. They have been trained to help you strengthen your relationship and help you work through your relationship struggles. Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life throws at us. At CPA, we will always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help teach you the skills to cope with guilt and stress management.
Susan Rosemeier currently holds a Master‘s Degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science and Organizational Leadership from Trinity International University. Her background includes experience in case management, structural family therapy, individual & group therapy, and crisis counseling. She is a firm believer that the relationship between counselor and client is crucially important – and therefore strives to create a warm, caring environment in which to promote insight, healing, and growth.