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Gottman Couples Therapy

Gottman Couples Therapy

The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is one of the most effective methods used in couples therapy today. This method of therapy was created by Dr. John Gottman, a world renowned research and developer in marital stability and divorce prediction. Dr. John Gottman and his wife Julia Gottman have been researching marital interactions and family therapy for over forty years. Throughout their research they have identified The Four Horsemen; the four main negative behaviors that lead to conflict in relationships, and they have developed the Sound Relationship House Theory; which is composed of nine core principles that establish and secure healthy relationships. 

The Four Horsemen 

According to Gottman he has determined that there are only two types of marital conflicts; those that can be resolved, and those that cannot. In order to determine or predict which type of conflict a couple falls under, it is crucial to assess their relationship, and in particular how the couple communicates with one another. Through assessing a couples communication and behaviors, therapists can help identify if any of the four negative behaviors; “The Four Horsemen” are impacting their relationship. 

The Four Horsemen

  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness 
  • Stonewalling 

Criticism is the first of the Four Horsemen and is usually the one that occurs most in couples. This is the habit of noticing and keeping track of your partner’s mistakes. Oftentimes one or both partners will notice these mistakes, but keep their thoughts to themselves. Over time these negative thoughts get stacked up and eventually lead to resentment.

Contempt is the second of the Four Horsemen and the number one negative behavior that leads to divorce in couples. When there is contempt in a relationship one or both individuals will usually be condescending, sarcastic, and disrespectful. These behaviors can be seen with body language and heard in verbal insults or offensive humor. 

Defensiveness is the third of the Four Horsemen and is also quite common. Although being defensive portrays a behavior to protect one self, it is in fact a way to put blame on someone else. When a partner feels criticized, they turn themselves into a victim and feel they are being treated unjustly. 

Stonewalling is the fourth of the Four Horsemen. When a partner is showing this behavior they are shutting themselves off, leaving discussions, and withdrawing from disputes entirely. Instead of confronting conflict, these individuals feel overwhelmed and become unresponsive to their partner.

Although the Four Horsemen can be detrimental to a couple, it is important to know that there are antidotes for how to resolve these negative behaviors. Through therapy, couples will be guided through techniques and methods to deter negative behaviors and communications and redirect them into positive and healthy ones.

The Sound Relationship House Theory

The Gottman’s have developed a theory that encompasses the ideal relationship. The Sound Relationship House Theory consists of nine main components to a healthy and lasting relationship. 

  • Build Love Maps – Do you know everything about your partner?
  • Share Fondness and Admiration – Is there respect and affection in your relationship? 
  • Turn Towards Instead of Away – Are you aware of your and your partners needs?
  • The Positive Perspective – Are you positive about repairing and problem solving?
  • Manage Conflict – Are you willing and ready to solve problems together?
  • Make Life Dreams Come True – Do you welcome your partner’s dreams and hopes?
  • Create Shared Meaning – Do you understand the depth of your relationship? 
  • Trust – Do you have your partner’s back and do they have yours?
  • Commitment – Are you in it for the long haul? 

What you can expect in therapy

At the beginning of therapy couples will be assessed through interviews and questionnaires.  Interviews will be assessed both together and as individuals. After review and receiving feedback, the couples and therapist will decide how frequently they will meet and what interventions will be used throughout therapy. 

The four main goals of using Gottman’s Method in couple’s therapy is to;

  • Rid the relationship of harmful communication
  • Build a healthy relationship that consists of intimacy and mutual respect
  • Implement new techniques for managing conflicts
  • Develop understanding and empathy within the relationship

Is this method right for you? 

You might be wondering if couples therapy is right for you, and if using Gottman’s Method is the right approach for your relationship. If you and your partner have frequent fights, lack intimacy or closeness, have problems with communication, or have situational arguments over daily stresses, therapy might be the first step to rebuilding your relationship. Research has proven that using Gottman’s Method for couples counseling is good for even healthy relationships. Everyone can benefit from Gottman’s method. So what are you waiting for?