The Gottman Method is one of the most widely used couples therapy models in the world – based on the Sound Relationship House Theory, it aims to improve your communication and conflict resolution, increase the affection between you and your partner, and – perhaps most importantly – help you to feel empathic and compassionate towards your partner.
What is the structure?
The Gottman Method is tailored for every couple – in the beginning, people attend together and separately, and complete questionnaires that help the therapist understand the state of the relationship. After that, the couple and therapist agree on the frequency of sessions, and the general plan. This kind of therapy focuses on the three areas of friendship, conflict management and creating shared meaning – and this is applicable to every couple, regardless of sexual orientation, age or circumstance.
What is it based on?
The therapists who developed the method, Drs John and Julie Gottman, based their work on the idea that all romantic relationships involve understanding each other’s worlds – and this provides a foundation for you to then lean on each other, show appreciation and admiration, manage conflict and create shared meaning together.
What are some examples of Gottman Method ideas?
One of the most famous of the Gottman Method concepts is called’ The Four Horsemen’ and refers to four types of negative communication techniques that couples tend to use with each other. The Gottmans were able to establish that these behaviors were predictive of relationships ending – and the more we can avoid falling into these patterns, the better it will be for our relationship. The four horsemen are:
- Criticism – when we criticise our partner, we are not addressing their behavior, but rather their character.
- Contempt – when we show contempt, we are assuming a morally superior position.
- Defensiveness – becoming defensive often involves reallocating blame – and nothing gets resolved.
- Stonewalling – when we shut down or tune out in a conversation, this can make it almost impossible to talk about an issue with our partner.
The Four Horsemen is a great example of how the Gottmans pair years of research into couples with practical, real life applications that can make a big difference for couples. Trained Gottman therapists help couples work through some of these communication patterns and find new ways of expressing their feelings to each other – and the result is usually a more harmonious and respectful relationship.
How do I know if it is for me?
If you’re curious about the Gottman Method, you’re able to learn more by visiting their website and reading through some of the resources available online. Relish has exercises that are based on Gottman techniques, which are designed to grow the sense of friendship and appreciation between a couple, and help you to establish a shared vision. The great part about the Gottman Method is that it is based on decades of research, so we know that using the techniques is a sound investment that is likely to yield positive results for your relationship.
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