Gottman Method Couples Therapy

Online and In-Person Couples Therapy in the State of Pennsylvania

The Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy: A Method Based on Decades of Restearch

 Are you looking for a couples therapy approach that is backed by science?

Did you try marriage counseling already but just found yourselves arguing in front of your therapist? Maybe your sessions were spent talking about the events of the week without learning practical skills or strategies and you’re looking for something more structured.

All the couples therapists at Main Line Counseling Partners are Gottman-trained.  The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy is one of the most popular approaches because it is strengths-based, research-driven and practical.


Dr. John Gottman is world-renown for his grown-breaking relationship research and results.

The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy starts with a thorough three session relationship assessment. You’ll revisit why you fell in love in the first place, along with what changes you’d like to see in your relationship.

Gottman-trained therapists teach specific strategies on how to build friendship, intimacy, trust, and fun while also helping you manage conflict productively. You’ll learn solid communication skills, trust-building exercises, and how to be vulnerable with each other in a safe supportive environment.

Gottman therapists know how to help couples build healthy relationships. 

Do We Need Couples Therapy Quiz

What to Expect at Your First 3 Sessions with a Gottman Therapist

What to Expect from the Gottman Method Assessment Process

We use a three-session method of assessment to gain a clear picture of your relationship, including your strengths and the issues that bring you into counseling, and each of you as an individual.  The Gottman Approach assessment comprises 3 sessions that last approximately 4 hours total, plus the review of a set of questionnaires that each member of the couple completes.

Couples eager to complete the assessment process quickly may wish to complete the assessment and start the therapy in two days. If this sound like you, check out our services for intensive couples therapy.

Session 1:  Understanding Your Relationship

In the first session, you and your partner will share what brings you into couples therapy and the history of your relationship.  Your therapist will also ask you to discuss a common disagreement at the end of the session. This helps your therapist understand how you currently deal with conflict.  You will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires before you return for the next appointment.

Session 2:  Understanding You and Your Partner as Individuals

This is an opportunity for the Gottman trained therapist to get to know you as an individual and understand how your background and past experiences influence your current experience of your relationship and your partner’s.  While it is easier to speak candidly when 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 results of your assessment.

The therapist and the couple discuss potential goals for couples therapy and work together to formulate a plan forward that is agreeable to all.  Goals typically fall into three main areas:

  1. Building Intimacy and Friendship
  2. Managing Conflict Well
  3. Creating Shared Dreams and Meaning Rituals together.



Ground Rules and Sessions

Gottman Method Therapy Sessions and Ground Rules

After the assessment and treatment planning, the couples therapy will start and you and your partner will be given some foundational ground rules to follow to make sure your sessions are productive.

The research has shown four core communication mistakes that lead to separation, divorce, and relationship dissatisfaction. John Gottman labeled them as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they include: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling.

The most common destructive communication pattern is the attack/defend cycle (criticism and defensiveness). Your therapist will help you find productive ways to raise a sensitive topic and how to respond to criticism without getting defensive. Below is a video that explains how the four horsemen can be avoided.

A Webinar on how to tame Criticism and Defensiveness, the first two of Gottman’s Four Horsemen

What to Expect in Clinical Sessions with a Gottman Trained Therapist

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.

The Science Behind the Gottman Approach: Research from The Love Lab

The Newlywed Study

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 loJohn Gottmanng and satisfying relationships and those who would soon split up or live together unhappily.  The Gottman approach to Couples Therapy teaches you and your partner to use the techniques that 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 specific relationship dynamics and learn how to turn them around.

What Next?

We would be happy to speak with you on the phone at 610-642-3359 to answer any questions and let you know which of our Gottman trained therapists have current availability.  Or you may schedule a specific time and date for a 15-minute phone consultation with our intake coordinator, Jessica Kryzer. 

Don’t Live Near Philadelphia?

If you do not live in Pennsylvania or near Philadelphia, we offer many Gottman-informed alternatives, including: free resources for couplesbooks, retreats, and online courses.

Recent Blog Posts by Laura Silverstein, Certified Gottman Therapist

How to Stop Arguing:  A Formula that Really Works

Relationship Quiz: Do You Need Couples Therapy or Something Else?

Seven Minute Progressive Muscle Relaxation

A Closer Look at Stonewalling