1000 questions for couples, book of questions

Gottman Method Couples Therapy and The Sound Relationship House

Your neighborhood Gottman Method Couples Therapist

 Michele O’Mara, PhD

What is the Gottman Method?


John Gottman is known world-wide for his relationship research. He set up “love labs,” in which he observed married couples interacting for a weekend at a time. He conducted longitudinal studies (long-term) of these couples, tracking their marital relationships over the course of twenty years. He identified patterns of behavior that led to successful relationships. He also learned patterns of behavior that led to divorce. The couples therapy referred to as The Gottman Method, was developed by John Gottman and his wife, Julie Gottman who is a therapist. 



What Does Gottman Method Couples Therapy Involve?



The Gottman approach to couples involves an extensive relationship assessment followed by feedback to the couple about the assessment.gotman checkup

This, by the way, is something you can to which you do without actually doing couples therapy. Trained Gottman Counselors, like me, have access to the 480 question assessment tool and the ability to provide couples with a relationship assessment.  You can get more information about the Gottman Checkup here. 

With the results of the Gottman Checkup, couples are provided interventions (behavior changes, education, strategies and exercises). The interventions help couples develop stronger relationships in three main areas.



The first area is friendship. In the Sound Relationship House this is what the Gottman Method means when they say build love mapsShare fondness and admiration and turn towards instead of away, are also part of the Friendship intervention.



The second main area of intervention is to improve the couples ability to manage conflict. Specifically, these are the goals: accept your partner’s influence, dialogue about problems, and practice self-soothing.



The third main area of intervention in the Gottman Method is to create shared meaning 

What is considered a successful experience with the Gottman Method?

Success is seen as being able to increase the number of positive interactions you have as a couple, to feel more closeness, intimacy and emotional connection through your enriched friendship. Another key part of the Gottman Method Therapy interventions is to repair old hurts and incorporate new skills to address hurts as they arise. 

How does the Gottman Method Couples Therapy help couples address relationship conflicts?


All couples experience conflict. No couple is immune. The questions is, what kind of issues do you have and how are you addressing them?


According to Dr. Gottman, there are two main types of issues couples have. One involves the types of issues that are solvable. The issue is a “what you see is what you get” sort of issue. She likes the bed made every morning, you don’t see the point. This issue has solutions, and is therefore solvable.


The other type of issue is more complicated and involves a fundamental difference in your personalities, values, beliefs, and other core aspects of your selves. Because these issues are rooted in core differences in who you are and how you wish to move through the world. These issues are considered perpetual.

Imagine your core difference is related to key differences in your financial values. You pride yourself on fiscal responsibility and discipline. You are committed to saving for retirement, spending conservatively, and being intentional and conscious about every financial decision you make, big or small. She, on the other hand, has a core value to live in the moment, and to feel unrestricted by future planning. She is not convinced that there will be a future. She believes that everything will work out. She would rather seize the day, even if that means using a credit card.

When perpetual issues are mishandled, and typically they are, couples often do more harm than good when trying to address them without guidance. Once perpetual issues have been unsuccessfully addressed over and over, couples begin to lose hope that they can overcome the pain of these core differences. This hopelessness turns perpetual issues into gridlocked issues.


When a perpetual problem becomes gridlocked, couples are no longer able to effectively in address the issue. It is essential to get help, whether you start on your own, with reading and researching new communication and problem solving skills on your own, or if you schedule a couples coaching or therapy session. 

Is the Gottman Method Couples Therapy effective for lesbian couples?


In a 2017 study by Garanzina, Yee, Gottman et al., studied the effectiveness of the Gottman Method in work with 106 same-sex couples. The study revealed that the Gottman approach to lesbian couples therapy was not only effective, it led to positive outcomes faster (8-11 sessions) than the national average (11-13 sessions) of couples counseling

In my work, I do not rely on only the Gottman Method, I also incorporate the Imago Theory by Harville Hendrix and The Emotionally Focused Therapy by Sue Johnson.  The Gottman research, however, is a strong part of my educational approach to working with couples and I find the information to be invaluable. 


Take the Gottman Method Relationship Checkup for a Scientifically-Based Intensive Assessment of Your Relationship

Are you Unsure You Want To Make Your Relationship Work? Read more about Discernment Counseling here.

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