The Gottman Method for Couples Counselling
The Gottman Method is a more structured approach than many other approaches to relationship counselling. It is based on the work of researchers who observed and recorded patterns in relationships over 20 years. Their research followed more than 3500 couples. It taught them to predict with great accuracy (over 94%) whether a marriage would survive or would have ended 6 years later. This research informed the theory of relationship functioning which underpins the Gottman Method.
Outcome research supports the Gottman Method, with couples reporting greater relationship satisfaction after counselling based on this method. Research suggests that the Gottman Method is effective not only for heterosexual couples, but also for couples in same-sex relationships. It may also be useful for couples who do not feel that their conflict level is abnormal, but would like to learn better ways to communicate with and support one another.
The Theory Behind the Gottman Method
The Gottman Method sees a healthy relationship as being represented by 9 levels:
- Build love maps
- Build fondness and admiration by showing affection and respect in small ways every day
- Turn towards opportunities for emotional connections (instead of turning away)
- Take a positive perspective towards your partner’s actions (i.e., assume good intentions)
- Manage conflict by approaching conflict gently and establishing dialogue about problems
- Support each other’s life dreams
- Create shared meaning through connection, support and creating shared goals/values
Gottman Method counselling recognises that each couple is unique, and that sometimes problems arise because of mismatches in emotional responses between two people in a relationship. When this is the case, counselling must not only focus on reducing negative conflict, but also on creating or enhancing opportunities for positive interactions.
What Gottman Method Counselling Looks Like
Counselling under the Gottman Method begins with an assessment process, which runs over 4 sessions: an initial joint session, an individual session with each spouse, and a joint feedback session.
The couple begins in the initial session by creating goals for what they would like to get out of the sessions. After these goals have been agreed upon, intervention can begin. The individual sessions allow the psychologist to determine each individual’s:
- Level of commitment to the counselling
- Hopes or expectations of what they want to get out of the sessions
- Personal goals
Counselling sessions aim to provide a space for each person to share their concerns and emotions in an accepting and empathetic environment. The Gottman Method is emotion-focussed, experiential, and focuses on the present moment. However, it also provides couples with strategies which can be applied in the future to reduce negative feelings and increase positive feelings during conflict. Essentially, the aim of counselling is to:
- Increase intimacy, respect and affection
- Resolve conflict that may have reduced closeness in the relationship
- Achieve greater understanding between the two partners
- Enable both parties to engage in calm and constructive discussions
Psychologists Offering the Gottman Method
Rose Park Psychology is lucky enough to have Jill Wiltshire who can offer couples counselling using the Gottman Method. You may click on her name to access her profile.
If you would like to make an appointment for Gottman Method couples counselling, please feel free to contact us, and our friendly receptionists will be happy to assist you in making a booking.