Gottman Method of Couples Therapy: A Guide

If you’ve been looking around for a couple’s therapist in Atlanta, you might have stumbled upon something called the Gottman Method for couples therapy. 

If you’re wondering what it’s all about, you’ve landed in the right place.  There are many methods counselors use in therapy, all of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. While there is no perfect approach, there are several that many therapists use because of their effectiveness and ease of comprehension. The Gottman Method is one of the main approaches our Atlanta Couples Counselors use when providing counseling services for couples

What is The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy?

The Gottman Method is a therapy model often used with couples that gives them practical, skill-based tools while also helping them connect on a deeper, emotional level.  This method is used with couples facing infidelity, poor communication, high conflict, differences in parenting styles, financial management concerns, lack of intimacy, and much more. 

Even couples who consider themselves healthy can benefit from the techniques and insight this model provides.   

The Gottman method is designed to build (or restore) trust, improve communication habits, de-escalate conflict, and increase intimacy, affection, and respect.  With your therapist, you will learn how to move from a place of stagnation to a healthy, fulfilling relationship. 

According to the Gottman Method website, there are nine components of healthy relationships, known as the Sound Relationship Method.

These components are:

  • Building love maps
  • Sharing fondness and admiration
  • Turning toward each other
  • The positive perspective (seeing your partner through a positive lens)
  • Managing conflict
  • Making life dreams come true
  • Creating shared meaning
  • Trust 
  • Commitment

Gottman Method Couples counseling is designed to strengthen these relationship areas while also minimizing or eliminating habits and patterns that hinder these nine components.

Background of The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method was developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman in the 1980s.  It is an evidence-based approach, meaning that years of research and studies underpin the workings of the Gottman Method and how it is used. 

Dr. John Gottman developed new methodologies for studying couples interactions and over time, Dr. John Gottman and his colleague Robert Levenson could predict with 90% accuracy if a couple was going to stay together or get divorced using several of the tools Dr. Gottman had developed. In 1994, Dr. Gottman and his wife, clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Gottman, started developing the Sound Relationship House theory, which is the basis of the Gottman Method today.

Then, in 1996, they founded the Gottman Institute to share all of their past research and findings with the world.

How does The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy work?

You can expect for you and your partner to be together during your first therapy session.  After this, your therapist will meet with each of you individually to learn more about your background, your current view of the relationship, and what you hope to accomplish.  Your therapist will also provide you with an online assessment through the Gottman Institute that gives a comprehensive view of your relationship, including strengths and growth areas. 

During these first few sessions, you and your therapist will clarify your hopes/goals for therapy.  After these first few sessions, your therapist will go over the results of your assessment and discuss a treatment plan that best serves your needs.  The goal is to leave these sessions healthier than you were before and with the tools you need to live out a loving and lasting relationship with one another. The Gottman approach tends to include a higher focus on both education and skills development than some other couples counseling methods.

It is likely that your therapist will give you “homework” in between sessions.  This will primarily consist of putting into practice the tools you are learning in session and practicing ways to connect with one another.  The more couples engage with these steps outside of therapy, the better results we often see. 

One question we often get is “How long will this process take?”.  The answer really depends on each couple and their unique circumstances.  Some couples accomplish what they are looking for after several months while others find therapy beneficial for years to come. 

Couples generally meet weekly with their therapist until you have reached a place where everyone feels comfortable spacing sessions out.  Rest assured that your therapist has your best interest in mind and will help guide you along the way.  

Is The Gottman Method of Couples Counseling for you?

Anyone can benefit from the Gottman Method. Couples who are experiencing challenges such as infidelity, frequent arguments, poor communication, or who are on the verge of divorce or separation might benefit more from the Gottman Method.

However, couples who would say they are “healthy” or “doing well” can also benefit greatly from attending counseling that utilizes the Gottman Method. Overall, anyone can benefit from this method and can learn tools for how to build lasting relationships. 

If you think you and your partner could benefit from couples counseling, or you have any questions, reach out and schedule a free consultation call with one of our Gottman couples counselors here.  Or if you are ready to get started, you can book your first session here with one of our trained professionals.  

In addition to offering Gottman Method Couples counseling, we also facilitate Gottman Couples Workshops in one-day and two-day formats. To learn more about these couples workshops and register for an upcoming date, visit our Gottman Couples Workshop page. 

Looking for pre-marital counseling? We also offer the Gottman Method for pre-marital counseling called Prepare / Enrich.


About Liz Fava, LPC

Liz provides individual and couples therapy for adults, including counseling for dating, engaged, and married couples. She also conducts couples workshops, and training and supervision for therapists.