The Effective Gottman Method: A Complete Overview

Couples therapy has been an increasingly popular method used to rekindle the spark back into a relationship. The Gottman method 1is one such method used in couple’s therapy that has provided exceptionally good results for troubled partners.

Based on the sound relationship house theory, the Gottman method helps you assess your relationship with your partner and provide solutions accordingly. Curious to know more about the Gottman method? Please read the article then as we share a complete overview.

1. The Gottman Method

What is Gottman Method Couples Therapy?

The Gottman method is an approach to couples therapy that was invented by the psychologist couple Dr. Julia Schwartz Gottman and Dr. John Gottman. This method assesses the couples’ relationship problems and provides research-based solutions to them.

The main aim of the method is to improve communication among the partners2. The technique also helps in removing barriers and conflicts between the partners. And it instead boosts compassion and empathy within the relationship.

The Gottman method is always personalized for each couple and involves a series of individual and conjoined sessions.

The Gottman method focuses on:

  • Undoing conflicting verbal communications. 
  • Removing the barriers that create a stagnancy in the relationship. 
  • Increasing respect, affection, and intimacy among the couple
  • Creating empathy and understanding among the partners.

2. Availing Gottman Therapy

You may wonder why Gottman’s method of couple therapy is so hyped. Then, here are some of the benefits for you to consider:

  1. Deepens friendship and intimacy.
  2. Works at the core of the problem and enhances your connection accordingly.
  3. Promotes working together through the conflict.
  4. Increases trust and commitment.

3. Gottman’s Seven Principles of Lasting Relationships

The Gottman Method is based upon seven principles that help in creating lasting relationships. We have mentioned all the seven principles below, along with a brief elaboration:

  • Build love maps

Creating love maps is based on the principle of knowing each other. It involves getting knowledge of your partner’s past, present, and future. Knowing the deepest aspects of each other’s lives will help in creating a stronger bond.

  • Expressing admiration

Partners often fail to express their emotions towards each other, which usually leads to misunderstanding.

Gottman therapy helps you to overcome the problem. Showing fondness, respect, and admiration toward each other can help solidify a healthy relationship.

  • Asking for help

We know that doing simple things can have a great impact. Gottman’s next principle is based on that. It states that doing mundane tasks together can have a great impact on your relationship.

Like calling each other during the day or planning little surprises for each other, and you can simply be there for them when the other is having a bad day.

  • Accept influence

Couples in happy relationships should always try to incorporate the influence of their other half. Involving them in the decisions that determine the relationships helps solidify the bond between the couples. 

  • Solving solvable problems
couple holding hands walk city
Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Gottman’s method believes that couples often have to compromise to solve a thriving relationship. However, these problems always refer to mundane situational problems and not toxic, recurring, or complex underlying ones. 

  • Managing conflict and overcoming obstacles

You will hardly ever find a relationship without its fair share of problems and obstacles. The key to a happy relationship is to always work through the issues together. Blaming one another or ignoring the problem can only worsen the situation. 

  • Create a shared bond

The Gottmans believe that healthy couples should share purposes in their life. They should try to be enriched by each other’s opinions and the values that their other half brings into the relationship. 

4. How Does The Gottman Method Work? 

4.1. Assessment

Sometimes understanding the problem in a relationship is the most difficult task. Therefore, the experts of Gottman therapy take extra care while talking about this step. In this step, the couples learn about the problems that are destroying their relationship.

The Sound House theory and Gottman’s four horsemen theory are used to decipher the problem between the couple.

The Sound House Theory helps in assessing the problems in the relationship. It is considered as the relationship version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs3. There are nine essential parts in a relationship that helps in building a happy connection. Each step is said to be predicated on the success of the previous step.

The sound house theory believes that the foundation of all romantic relationships is based upon understanding each other’s world. Once a couple establishes that understanding, the foundation of their happy relationship gets laid.

Also, communication is one of the key factors that helps in creating a healthy association. And often it has been observed that poor communication between couples has always led to misunderstandings and problems.

Therefore, in addition to SHT, Gottman also uses the concept of The Four Horsemen analogy- criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. The four horsemen analogy is used to characterize the poor communication styles and the responses that can potentially destroy the relationship.

4.2. Framework

office meeting smiling colleagues
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Now once the core problems in the relationships have been identified, they move on to the next step. This now helps in creating a framework for the sessions to take place. The couple and therapist decide together on the session duration and the activities to be done.

4.3. Intervention

Gottman method

Gottman-trained therapists plan research-based interventions focused on friendships, conflict management, and activities that help strengthen relationships in this particular step.

With guidance, the negative conflict patterns are replaced with positive interactions. Goals are shared, emotional connections are deepened, and friendships are improved.

A typical Gottman method therapy session will include around four sessions:

  1. Session 1: Discussion about the problems, strengths, and what should be worked upon in the therapy. 
  2. Session 2 & 3: Individual sessions with each of the partners are held in this step. Each partner expresses themselves freely without any concern about what the other partner may think or feel. 
  3. Session 4: This session is where the couple talks to their therapist. Here they evaluate their relationship and identify where they need to work on more. 

This is the basic framework, and after this, all the subsequent therapy sessions are planned according to your needs.

5. Conclusion

Now there you go, everything you need to know about the Gottman method. Hopefully, the article was able to answer all your queries about Gottman’s approach to couples therapy. The method helps in understanding the basic conflicts that ruin a relationship and provides effective solutions accordingly. 

The Gottman Method is a popular approach to couples therapy and relationship counseling developed by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman. It is grounded in extensive research conducted by the Gottmans over several decades, during which they observed and studied thousands of couples to identify patterns that contribute to successful, lasting relationships, as well as those that lead to conflict and dissolution.

The Gottman Method focuses on enhancing relationship quality and helping couples build strong, healthy partnerships. It is based on the idea that a successful relationship involves a balance between positive interactions and effective conflict resolution. The method is known for its practical and evidence-based techniques that therapists can use to help couples improve their communication, understanding, and connection.


1. Do both partners need to be present for Gottman Method therapy?

A. While it is ideal for both partners to participate in therapy, progress can still be made if only one partner attends. However, involving both partners allows for a more comprehensive approach to addressing relationship issues.

2. How long does Gottman Method therapy typically last?

A. The duration of Gottman Method therapy varies depending on the specific needs and goals of the couple. Some couples may see improvement in a few sessions, while others may require more extended therapy to work through deeper issues.

3. Can the Gottman Method be used for same-sex couples?

A. Yes, the Gottman Method is applicable to all types of couples, including same-sex couples. Its principles and techniques are designed to improve relationships regardless of the partners’ gender or sexual orientation.

Read more

  1. Gottman, John Mordechai. “Gottman method couple therapy.” Clinical handbook of couple therapy 4.8 (2008): 138-164. ↩︎
  2. Lev‐Ari, Shiri, and Natalie Sebanz. “Interacting with multiple partners improves communication skills.” Cognitive Science 44.4 (2020): e12836. ↩︎
  3. Gambrel, Patrick A., and Rebecca Cianci. “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Does it apply in a collectivist culture.” Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship 8.2 (2003): 143. ↩︎

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