Gottman Couples Therapy
What is Gottman couples therapy?
Gottman couples therapy believes that couples need to be able to work on becoming better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future.
The foundation of Gottman couples therapy is based on Dr. John and Julie Gottman’s 40+ years of clinical experience and research that is based on interventions and exercises that are structured, goal-oriented and scientifically based.
How does Gottman couples therapy work?
9 Components to Gottman Therapy
There are 9 key components of healthy relationships that therapists focus on within Gottman’s couples therapy. These 9 components include:
- Building Love Maps
- Sharing Fondness and Admiration
- Turning Towards Your Partner
- Having a Positive Perspective
- Managing Conflict
- Making Life Dreams Come True
- Creating Shared Meaning
- Having Trust
Understanding Love Maps involves knowing your partner’s history, stresses, and their joys and hopes. Sharing Fondness and Admiration focuses on increasing affection and respect.
Turning Towards Your Partner involves connecting with and responding to your partner, while the Positive Perspective is having a positive approach and a genuine willingness to work together throughout this process. The concept of Managing Conflict is important as couples will continue to engage in conflict, which is not problematic, but it depends on how you handle the conflict that matters most. This leads to helping you both to make your Life Dreams to Come True, which then leads to Creating Shared Meaning by living through these experiences.
All of this is under the umbrella and/or walls of Having Trust and Commitment to the process and to your partner.
One of the other main concepts identified in Gottman’s couple therapy is the “4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” of relationships.
These “4 Horsemen” are negative interactions that are highly predictive of relationship failure:
Criticism involves negative statements stemming from your beliefs about your partner’s character or personality.
Contempt commonly involves statements that are either sarcastic or cynical, such as name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering or mockery, and hostile or hurtful forms of humor. Contempt is poisonous to relationships because it conveys disgust and ultimately leads to more conflict.
Defensiveness is when you refuse to back down or apologize for your behavior and tend to engage in defensive responses which usually feel like blaming. This escalates conflict.
Finally, Stonewalling is commonly experienced when these first three Horsemen occur over time which then leads to one partner tuning out in order to avoid the barrage of the three previous Horsemen (commonly seen as disengaging).
Gottman Relationship Checkup
The Gottman Relationship Checkup is designed as a tool for use by the therapists at Insight Psychological in a therapeutic setting.
This tool streamlines the relationship assessment process for your therapist, providing personalized, clinical feedback plus specific recommendations for treatment based on your answers.
The questionnaire is composed of 480 questions about friendship, intimacy, emotions, conflict, values, and trust, as well as parenting, housework, finances, individual areas of concern, and more.
The actual time it takes to complete each assessment varies based on individual responses, the complexity of relationship dynamics, and the optional use of comment areas to provide additional information about the relationship. On average, you can expect to spend between 1-2 hours completing the questionnaire.
When you have both completed your individual questionnaires, your therapist will be notified and will be able to securely log in to review your scores and the analysis of your relationship. Your therapist will be able to discuss the results with you and suggest a treatment plan for improving and strengthening your relationship.
When is Gottman couples therapy used?
Gottman’s therapy can be beneficial to most couples but can be helpful in dealing with the following issues:
- Marriage and relationship concerns
- Custody access issues
- Dealing with infidelity
- Divorce or separation
- Sexuality and intimacy issues
- Communication and negotiation
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.
Insight’s therapists are available for in-person, online, or telephone counselling at several locations in Alberta. Contact us to learn more.