The Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy: A Method Based on Decades of Research
All the couples therapists at Main Line Counseling Partners have advanced training in The Gottman Method. It is one of the most popular approaches available because it is practical, research-based, and focuses on positivity. Dr. John Gottman combined his 35 years of relationship research with Dr. Julie Gottman’s 30 years of clinical expertise in creating the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy. It teaches specific strategies in 1)building friendship and intimacy; 2) managing conflict and 3) building life dreams together as a couple.
What to Expect from the Gottman Method Assessment Process
We use a three session method of assessment in order to gain a clear picture of your relationship, including your strengths and the issues that bring you into counseling, and each of you as individuals. The Gottman Approach assessment is composed of 3 sessions that last approximately 4 hours total plus the review of a set of questionnaires that each member of the couple completes.
Session 1: Understanding Your Relationship
In the first session, you and your partner will be given the opportunity to share what brings you in to couples therapy and the history of your relationship. Your therapist will also ask you to discuss a topic about which you currently disagree to better understand how you currently deal with conflict. At the end of the session, you will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires (either on-line or on paper) about a wide range of aspects of your relationship and individual histories.
Session 2: Understanding You and Your Partner as Individuals
This is an opportunity for the therapist to get to know you as an individual and understand how your background and past experiences influence your current experience of your relationship as well as your partner’s. While it is easier to speak candidly when you are alone in the room, it is important to remember that in the Gottman Method, the therapist does not keep secrets from your partner.
Session 3: Understanding the Strengths of Your Relationship and Areas you Want to Change
In this third session the therapist shares the understanding he or she has gained from talking with you in the first two sessions and reviewing the questionnaire responses, and each member of the couple shares how this summary compares with their own experience of the relationship. The therapist and the couple discuss potential goals for couples therapy that arise from this assessment and work together to formulate a plan forward that is agreeable to all. Goals typically fall into three main areas: Building Intimacy and Friendship; Managing Conflict Well; and Creating Shared Dreams and Meaning Rituals together. Couples who are eager to complete the assessment process quickly so they can begin making changes may wish to complete the assessment in one day in order to streamline the process. Main Line Counseling Partners can accommodate this desire with intensive couples therapy.
What to expect in clinical sessions
In the Gottman Method of couples therapy members of the couple talk directly to one another with the therapist observing, and intervening as needed to coach each person in the use of effective interaction skills. Selecting from a wide array of skills and exercises, your therapist will design the therapy session to meet the needs of your specific couple relationship identified during your assessment. In this way, you will be shown how to develop the same skills and ways of interacting that proved so successful for the long-term stable, happy couples in Dr. Gottman’s research. Once a respectful tone and safe atmosphere is created, intimacy, connection, problem-solving and happiness are far more attainable.
Learning About the Science Behind the Gottman Approach: Research from The Love Lab
Dr. John Gottman is probably most famous for his newlywed study which led to his ability to predict divorce with 90% accuracy. He and his team revolutionized the study of relationships in a 30 year longitudinal study. They interviewed couples when they returned from their honeymoons, measured their interaction patterns, and determined specific behaviors and interaction patterns. That data was then used to differentiate the couples who would experience long and satisfying relationships and those who would soon split up or live together unhappily. The Gottman approach to Couples Therapy works to teach you and your partner to use the techniques that the happy, stable long-term couples have used successfully.
In addition to concrete communication skills, you can expect to dig deep to understand why you have developed certain relationship dynamics and learn how to turn them around.
Which Therapist Should We See?
Dr. Michael Silverstein and Laura Silverstein, LCSW are now accepting new clients. We would be happy to speak with you on the phone at 610-642-3359 to answer any questions, or you may schedule specific time and date for a 15 minute phone consultation time by clicking the button below.
Click Here to Schedule a Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation
In the meantime please feel free to take a look at some recent posts on our blog written by Laura Silverstein, Certified Gottman Therapist
How to Stop Arguing: A Formula that Really Works
Seven Minute Progressive Muscle Relaxation
What Porcupines Can Teach us About Making Love
Note: This information is adapted from “Bridging the Couple Chasm—Gottman Couples Therapy: A Research-Based Approach”, A Manual for Clinicians by John Gottman and Julie Gottman (2012).