Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is a form of couples therapy developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, based on over four decades of research. It is designed to help couples improve their relationships through better communication, increased intimacy, and effective conflict resolution strategies. Central to the Gottman Method is the Sound Relationship House Theory, which outlines the essential components of healthy relationships, including trust, commitment, and mutual respect.

Understanding the Gottman Method

The Gottman Method uses empirical data gathered from the study of thousands of couples to identify the behaviors that can predict the success or failure of a relationship. It aims to disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect, and affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy, and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.

Core Principles of the Gottman Method

  • The Sound Relationship House Theory: Illustrates the foundational elements needed for strong relationships, including layers like Love Maps, Shared Meaning, and Turning Towards Instead of Away.
  • The Four Horsemen: Identifies the four main negative behaviors that predict relationship failure, which are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, offering strategies to overcome them.
  • Managing Conflict: Focuses on managing conflict rather than avoiding or resolving it, recognizing that some issues are perpetual and need to be managed through dialogue and understanding.

Methodologies in the Gottman Method

The Gottman Method employs various strategies and exercises to help couples strengthen their relationships:

Love Maps

Encourages partners to know each other’s worlds, including hopes, stresses, joys, and history, to deepen friendship and intimacy.

Fondness and Admiration System

Strengthens the bond by focusing on the positive qualities of the partner and expressing affection and respect.

Turning Towards

Emphasizes the importance of responding positively to the partner’s bids for attention, affection, and support.

The Conflict Blueprint

Teaches couples how to manage conflict constructively, including the use of soft startups, effective repair attempts, and the maintenance of a positive perspective.

Dreams Within Conflict

Encourages understanding each partner’s underlying dreams, values, and beliefs that may be at the heart of recurring conflicts.

Benefits and Application

The Gottman Method has been shown to be effective for couples across all economic, racial, sexual orientation, and cultural sectors. Benefits include:

  • Improved Communication: Couples learn to communicate more effectively, leading to a deeper understanding and connection.
  • Increased Intimacy and Affection: Helps restore intimacy, admiration, and respect within the relationship.
  • Effective Conflict Management: Couples gain tools to manage conflict without damage to the relationship.
  • Greater Relationship Satisfaction: Many couples experience a significant increase in relationship satisfaction and stability.

Who Can Benefit from the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method is suitable for all types of couples, whether married or cohabitating, in any stage of the relationship. It is particularly beneficial for those experiencing repeated conflict, feelings of disconnection, or those seeking to build a stronger, more fulfilling partnership.

Training and Practice

Mental health professionals who wish to practice the Gottman Method undergo specific training and certification offered by The Gottman Institute. The training includes seminars, workshops, and clinical consultation to ensure therapists are well-equipped to apply the method effectively.


The Gottman Method offers a research-based, structured approach to improving relationships. By focusing on the enhancement of friendship, managing conflict, and creating shared meaning, it provides couples with the tools needed for a lasting and fulfilling partnership.