One of the models I use to help couples is Gottman Method Couples Therapy, which combines the knowledge and wisdom of more than three decades of Gottman research and clinical practice. Through research-based interventions and exercises, it helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection and intimacy in their relationships. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s three decades of research with more than 3,000 couples. This research shows us what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.
Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed out of this research to help couples:
- Increase respect, affection, and closeness
- Break through and resolve conflict when they feel stuck
- Generate greater understanding between partners
- Keep conflict discussions calm
Research shows that to make a relationship last, couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other's hopes for the future. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have shown how couples can accomplish this by paying attention to what they call the Sound Relationship House, or the seven components of healthy coupleships.
The Gottman Theory For Making Relationships Work:
- Build Love Maps: How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?
- Share Fondness and Admiration: The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)
- Turn Towards: State your needs; be aware of bids for connection and turn towards them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship.
- The Positive Perspective: The presence of a positive approach to problem solving and the success of repair attempts.
- Manage Conflict: We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.
- Make Life Dreams Come True: Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.
- Create Shared Meaning: Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.
To support and deepen the Gottman techniques, I also utilize principles from Emotionally Focused Therapy, DBT Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills.
Gottman Couples Therapy Principles:
- Focuses on emotion, on the emotions the couple brings into a session, on dysfunctional negative interaction patterns (escalation or emotional disengagement), and on replacing the Four Horseman with their antidotes in order to make conflict discussions more functional, constructive, and regulated. It also focuses on emotional repair, and on building safety, trust, bonding, love, intimacy, friendship, and positive affect.
- It is a behavioral couple therapy, focused on changing interaction patterns.
- It is an existentially based couple therapy, both in its approach to gridlocked conflict and building the shared meaning system.
- It is a cognitive couple therapy focusing on how couples think about their relationship, and how they feel about feelings (meta-emotion philosophy).
- It is a narrative therapy, focusing on the stories the partners tell themselves about their history, their purposes and their struggles.
- It is a systemic couple therapy, based on the sequential, time-series, and mathematical modeling of actual interaction patters that describe the relationship as a system.
- It is a psychodynamic couple therapy, based upon specific aspects of analysis of the role of primary family and other salient past relationships play in the relationship here and now, especially in our analysis of the anatomy of conflict. As Faulkner said, the past is not dead, it is not even past.