Gottman Couples Counseling


The Gottman Method for Healthy Relationships is a form of couples-based therapy and education that draws on the pioneering studies of relationships by psychologist John M. Gottman and clinical practice conducted by John Gottman and his wife, psychologist Julie Gottman. Nearly 40 years of research have led John Gottman to identify the elements it takes for relationships to last—among all types of couples across all phases of life. There are nine components of what the Gottmans call The Sound Relationship House, from partners making mental maps of each other’s world to learning how to break through relationship gridlock. One of the reigning insights of the science-based approach is that in the dynamics of relationship systems, negative emotions like defensiveness and contempt have more power to hurt a relationship than positive emotions have to help a relationship. As a result, the structured therapy focuses on developing understanding and skills so that partners can maintain fondness and admiration, turn toward each other to get their needs met (especially when they are hurting), manage conflict, and enact their dreams—and what to do when they mess up (because everyone does).

Gottman Method Theory

The Gottman Method Theory aims to increase friendship and closeness in couples. It does this by showing them ways to deal with problems and conflicts in a positive way. Not all conflicts have a solution, but the theory is that you can learn to live with it and not allow it to destroy your relationship. The theory also focuses on building a shared life together. That involves being more attentive and considerate to your partner. Making tiny positive changes in small, everyday things can make the relationship more stable, supportive, and stronger so that it can grow and develop.

How Does Gottman Method Suggest the Mind Works?

The research behind the Gottman method suggests that negativity has a huge impact on the brain and that if it is allowed to continue it will emotionally distance and eventually separate a couple. Many couples unknowingly react in negative ways which can deteriorate the relationship. The Gottman method suggests that by reducing negative responses and by replacing them with positive ones, the relationship can prosper.

The Gottman Method identifies nine principals which the couple must work through together in order to nourish and maintain their association.

Love maps. This involves having more empathy and understanding of your partner. To concern yourself with how they really feel and what emotions and stresses they are dealing with.

Fondness and admiration. Couples who express their fondness and feelings of admiration towards each other are more likely to be able to resolve any problems they may have.

Turn to each other. The Gottman’s call this the ‘Emotional Bank Account’ which increases in couples who treat each other with concern and respect and look to one another for support.

Accepting Influence. Relationships involve give and take. Compromise is essential to maintain the balance of power.

Problem-solving. By using these strategies couples can learn to solve their problems. When things get tense, they can soothe the situation and promote constructive dialogue.

Manage conflict. The Gottman method allows couples to find ways to manage their conflicts, through tolerance and understanding based on respect and concern for one another. Not all conflicts have a solution, but this method lets couples find ways to deal with conflicts for the benefit of the relationship.

Create shared meaning. Being in a relationship means that you look to improve your life through the relationship. The connection between two people is made up of lots of little thoughts, words, and actions which together can create a lifelong unity which empowers them to get through the difficult times, together.

Trust. Knowing that your partner is acting in your best interest.

Commitment. Knowing that you are both staying in the relationship through thick and thin and working on making it better for both.

Gottman’s Four Horsemen

Gottman identified four negative factors which are the most destructive in a relationship and which are found much less frequently in healthy relationships. The presence of these factors predicts the failure of a relationship. He called them the ‘Four Horseman’, referring to the biblical image of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. 

They are –

Criticism. Criticizing your partner implies that you think there is something wrong with them. Saying things like ‘You never’ or ‘You always’ is like a global attack. It is better to make a direct complaint about something specific.

Defensiveness. Most people defend themselves when they feel that they are being attacked and this can escalate the scale of the disagreement. Instead, listen to the complaint and accept some shared responsibility for it.

Stonewalling. This can involve just refusing to talk or actually walking out on the discussion. 80-percent of men use this technique when they feel overwhelmed emotionally. Taking a break and lowering the tone of the disagreement can help.

Contempt. Treating your partner as inferior or mocking them is the most serious of the four horsemen. This can cause a deep hurt and resentment which can be hard to heal, but which with therapy can be overcome.

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9:00 am-9:00 pm

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