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Marriage Counseling: The Gottman Method

An emerging treatment for marital and couples counseling is the Gottman Method. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s a rundown of who the Gottman’s are, and what the Gottman Method is.

Who are the Gottmans?

Dr’s. John and Julie Gottman are two world-renowned researchers in the fields of marriage, divorce and couples’ treatment. Dr. John Gottman has been studying married couples for 40 years, and has conducted hundreds of studies in an attempt to understand the most prominent problems couples suffer from, how counselors can target treatment through assessment and potentially identify predictors of divorce. Dr. John Gottman has published over 200 academic papers and written 40 best-selling books on the subject.

His wife and business partner, Dr. Julie Gottman is a clinical psychologist who has written and co-authored several books, and specializes in working with abuse and trauma survivors, couples in distress, and families dealing with cancer and substance abuse. Julie was also voted the Washington State Psychologist of the Year.

Dr’s. Julie and John founded the Gottman Institute, an initiative set up to help married couples with their troubles based upon the culmination of the pair’s experience in the field.
Together, the couple created what has become known as the Gottman Method — a method of couple’s therapy designed to help couples build stable and happy relationships and marriages.

What is the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method consists of assessment and intervention strategies that are a result of the cumulative research of the Gottman’s more than forty years of shared study and experiences. As explained on their website, the Gottman Method has nine steps for creating a better marital relationship between partners. Based upon a foundation of trust and commitment, the Gottman Method encourages partners to dig deep into their understanding of one another.

The seven methodological practices, outside of trust and commitment, are:

  • Build Love Maps: this encourages each partner to build a map of his or her partner’s history, hopes and dreams, fears and worries and what brings them joy.
  • Expression of Appreciation and Respect: encourages each partner to channel their positive energies into thoughts of appreciation and respect for their significant other, rather than focusing on the negative aspects of their relationship.
  • Be Positive: partners can react positively to problem solving. This is another attempt to channel positive energy into fixing a problem properly, rather than only half-fixing it or channeling negative energy, getting frustrated and not fixing it at all.
  • Managing Conflict: The Gottman’s make a differentiation between managing problems that occur and “resolving” problems, as some relationship problems are constant and can only be managed, rather than resolved.
  • Make Life Dreams Come True: We all have our goals and dreams in life. The Gottman’s advise helping each other to achieve those life dreams, whatever they may be. It fosters a sense of union and collective achievement.
  • Shared Meaning: The Gottman’s attest that it is important to create a shared sense of meaning in your relationship. Understand what the relationship means to the other person and create a sense of shared meaning about the direction of your relationship.

The Gottman Method has been used throughout their time as practitioners of marriage counseling to help couples reconcile differences and lead to a new, happy and prosperous life together.

Find out how this method could help your relationship get back on track by reaching out to Dr. Danielle Forshee, Psy.D., for a consult.