Gottman Method Couples Counseling

What is The Gottman Method and Why Do I Practice it?

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The Gottman Method is an evidence-based method of guiding couples to positive change in their relationship.  It literally helps me take couples from "Disaster" status to "Masters" status.  Oh, wait! I didn't just call you a Disaster, but the Gottmans may have.  Let me explain.....

Drs. John & Julie Gottman have spent the better part now of 50 years dedicating their lives to researching relationships. They studied couples who stayed together happily, those who didn't stay together, and those who stayed together unhappily (we all know there are lots of reasons couples don't break up, even though they may be miserable). They studied couples along various demographics including age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The couples who stayed together happily, they deemed the Masters of Relationships.  The unhappy ones were deemed the Disasters. Now, here you are, looking up relationship therapists, so maybe you are feeling like you slipped into the category of unhappy, but you certainly don't think you're a "Disaster" at relationships.  Don't worry, for as harsh as that term may sound, this model of counseling couples is designed helped anyone in the Disaster category transition to the Masters category through some very specific steps I guide you and your partner through.


How is The Gottman Method Different than Traditional Couples Counseling?

Well, this is exciting for me to share with you! Let me set up a comparison for you.

Traditional weekly couples therapy - The Therapist is the Problem Solver

When I say "traditional couples counseling", I mean the generic, weekly sessions where couples go to dump their relationship stress on the therapist.  The couple comes in, introduces themselves to the therapist and presents their presenting problem. There is a plan to discuss how this problem affects their relationship and the therapy time is spent focused on that, only. Each week, the couple meets with their therapist. The therapist will start most sessions with, "How did things go this week?" , or "Tell me about what was better or worse this week?" the couple then describes what happened, sometimes word-for-word between sessions and the time is spent with the therapist providing feedback and solutions to the couple.  The therapist is now actually entangled  (int he therapy world, we would say, triangulated) with the couples' problems.  The therapist is in the place of authority in this type of work, so the couple comes to rely on the therapist, and the therapy room as the only place where they believe their problems get worked out.


Gottman Method Couples Counseling - The Therapist Teaches how to Problem Solve

The Gottman Method is a coaching method designed to empower the couple to be their own problem-solvers. Imagine that!

Because it's an evidenced-based model, there is a data collation process in the beginning. This is often enlightening to the couple, and super-helpful to me as your therapist. That process involves 4 sessions of assessment (Scroll down to watch the video below describing how to get a discount on the assessment - or to just come for that as a "Relationship Tune-Up").  Those 4 sessions are a combination of meetings with both of you with me, individual meetings with me, and an online survey that you take in between our first meeting and our last. These 4 sessions can often get done within a 10-day time period*

Next up, the work begins. Contrary to the Therapist as Problem-Solver method, this work involves me, your relationship therapist as a guide and teacher.  I take you week by week through a series of exercises, some scripted, some not, all designed to help take you and your partner to Masters status in your relationship. And don't be fooled by how somewhat easy this sounds, the work is still work. I will teach you the exercises and prescribe them to you and coach you through them. Some will feel like "fluff", but others, that are seemingly easy, may bring up new emotions. That's where my expertise comes in. I teach you the exercises and then guide you to mange and understand your emotions, and your partners, so that you can then effectively manage the conflicts that arise, be able to hear your partner and be heard by them, learn to compromise, and have a daily knowing of exactly why you love your partner. No therapy promises that you will never argue or have conflict with your partner.  You both got to each other along the long-winding road of life with all your life experiences making you both attractive to your partner, and very unique from them. There will be conflicts and needs for compromises and apologies, but instead of having to come back to see me every few years (although, Im sure I'd love to see you again), you will actually have a place in yoru home where you've stored all the tools I've taught you so that you can reference that in the future, rather than feeling defeated and as if you need to start over all over again. When you find you and your partner have slipped into an old pattern, you'll look up the series of exercises that led you to get that problem managed in the past and you will just review them yourselves and be able to implement them without having to go through the process of seeking out relationship therapy again in the future.

I truly have enjoyed working with all my couples, but I am truly ecstatic for them when they have reached their current goals and are prepared to move on because I know they have integrated and adopted the ways of the Masters and are now in that category themselves.

Wouldn't it feel great if you and your partner knew you had mastered the expert ways of staying together happily??


What Qualifies Me to Practice the Gottman Method?

Thanks for asking.  It's important for you to know this. I didn't just read their books (you can find a sample list of some of the NY Times Best-Selling books in the next section). For the first decade of my career, I was practicing the :traditional" relationship counseling as I referenced it above. This is actually the method us Marriage & Family Therapists learn in school. We get introduced to evidence(research)-based models that can truly help, but the bulk of our time is spent learning to manage the couples' emotions in session. A fun note about "Marriage & Family Therapists" is that many of them want nothing to do with the marriage/relationship therapy part. As you can imagine, it could be overwhelming to have 2 epole who know each other very well, are together, maybe have a long history, and a lot of hurt between them in the room with all those emotions. YIKES! Im not sure why I take to it, except that even in my own life, I have fought hard and through a lot of rocky times to find a healthy partnership. I know it's not easy, and I know the value that comes when 2 partners love each other enough to want to stay together but know they need some assistance to understand what is underlying their prolonged distress. I know, that's a convoluted answer, but it's the truth. I know that loe and partnership truly feels different when it is healthy and based ont he principles of the Masters as the Gottmans have laid out in their work. Ok, so it's not just my love for healthy relationships and my love of LOVE that qualifies me......

The Training

In addition to my training to get my Masers and my license as a Marriage & Family Therapist, AND in addition to earning my Doctorate Degree also in Marriage and Family Therapy, I have also taken the Gottman Institute's 3-part series of in-person training. This is not an easy thing to do.  In addition to it costing a lot (several thousands of dollars on top of all that graduate education-lol), I paid the extra cost to take their highest level (III) training directly with the Gottmans at their home-base of Seattle. We were not only in lecture with them, but we were in an experiential learning setting where we were guided by the Gottmans themselves on just how they designed these exercises to be implemented. I have now been practicing the Gottman Method for the better part of this past decade.  It has truly changed the outcomes of my couples and kept me enthusiastic about helping my couples, no matter how tough the problem seems to be that is presented.


Some of the Gottman Institute Books and Offerings

Dr. John Gottman and his wife Dr. Julie Schwartz-Gottman are the foremost researchers in evidence-based couples' therapy. You may have read some of their books:
"The Relationship Cure",
"The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work", "What Predicts Divorce?" or
"Why Marriages Succeed or Fail".



Here's a little video tip I recorded a few years ago on Valentine's Day, one of my favorites from the Gottman Institiute.

Watch this video to find out how to get a discount on our 4-Session Relationship Assessment
(619) 881-0051  \/



Some couples can benefit from the assessment process as it's own product.  Im happy to schedule you for just the 4-Session Relationship Tune-Up just to give you a deep an accurate picture of the strengths and the growth points of your relationship.


*If scheduling permits across all parties involved.