Clearly, each floor of the Sound Relationship House represents an opportunity for couples to develop new skills that will strengthen their relationship. Gottman therapists use this theory to drive their work with couples.
Based on his research, John Gottman maintains that even though couples feel their individual relationships are unique, marital conflicts fall into just two categories: resolvable conflicts and perpetual conflicts. Since a majority of conflicts are perpetual, the Gottman Method specifically centers on helping couples work on learning to live with this kind of conflict.
Given The Gottman Method takes this as its focus, it can help with a wide array of relationship issues, from frequent arguing to infidelity and emotional distance, which may seem unique but at their core are often the result of perpetual conflicts.
The Gottman Method can even help couples who don’t feel their level of conflict is problematic but are looking to understand their relationship better. The therapy is designed to help people at any stage of their relationship and regardless of race, class, or cultural identity. Research has shown it is also effective for same-sex couples.
Benefits of the Gottman Method
The Gottman Method is unique in its focus on perpetual versus resolvable conflicts. Understanding this difference is part of how this form of therapy can help couples positively change their relationship. By learning new ways to deal with perpetual conflicts, couples can replace negative conflict patterns with healthier ones.
Also, because the Gottman Method is backed by rigorous research, many of the interventions are specific. They include actionable steps that help couples leave each session understanding what to do to continue to work on their issues outside of therapy.
Moreover, learning these steps will help couples in the long term. Even after therapy, they can continue to apply these skills and techniques, preventing them from falling back into their former negative patterns.
Studies have demonstrated that the Gottman Method is highly effective. In addition to seeing an individual therapist, the Gottman Institute also offers workshops and retreats.
A randomized clinical trial assessed couples one year after taking either a one-day and two-day workshop or after a workshop followed by nine sessions of Gottman Method couples therapy. The trial found all to be effective. Although the most effective option, which also resulted in the least relapse, was combining a two-day workshop with nine therapy sessions.
Similarly, a study on Gottman Method couples therapy found that after 10 sessions, it was an effective treatment for improving married couples’ relationships, compatibility, and intimacy.
What to Expect
Couples therapy using the Gottman Method starts with an assessment, which begins with a joint session between the couple and the therapist.
The therapist speaks with each member of the couple individually. In addition, couples may complete questionnaires developed description as part of the Gottman Method.
Gottman Method interventions are designed to improve a couples’ friendship and their ability to manage conflict. As a result, in therapy, couples will learn to improve interactions to move from negative to positive, deepen emotional connection, and create shared goals.
Gottman Method therapists don’t just focus on improving skills within the relationship but also use the research on which the therapy is based to educate couples about the components of healthy relationships. This gives couples increased insight into their relationship dynamics and tools for maintaining their relationship in the long term.
Things to Consider
One of the key things to consider before deciding to see a Gottman therapist is your commitment to working on your relationship. The Gottman Method can be rigorous and intense, and therapists expect couples to continue to use the skills they learn in therapy outside of sessions. As a result, those who aren’t prepared to focus on improving their relationship in this way may not benefit from the Gottman Method.