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AaronEngelCasual Photo Nov 17, 2021

A Brief Introduction to the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy

Dr. John M. Gottman concluded roughly forty years ago that there was a large gap between the importance of marriage and romantic relationships, and research concerning what makes relationships and marriage work. His years of research found tried and true methods to help many relationships thrive or at least improve. John and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, continue to research and teach healthy relationship principles as part of their Gottman Institute. The purpose of this post is to give a 10,000 foot view of the Gottman Method in case anyone who works with couples decide they want to investigate and learn more.

The Gottman Method of couples therapy builds upon research and experience to produce interventions that work for many couples. The process may start with relationship checkup, a comprehensive assessment to discover where a relationship stands and what areas need the most work. The initial assessment can be paper-based or administered and analyzed electronically. An oral history interview can also be conducted to explore the relationship history and remind the couple while they chose their partner among all others. Based on the relationship checkup assessment, specific interventions are recommended.

Typical relationship issues such as communication problems, handling conflict, disagreements over finances, creating shared dreams and meaning, and handling the aftermath of a fight are addressed, among many others. Ways to improve romance and develop healthier sex lives may be discussed, as well as possible issues such as addiction, infidelity, and violence.

If there is a common relationship problem, chances are the Gottman's have an antidote. The available interventions are so vast and well developed that a blog post cannot do them justice. I have had the most luck combining Gottman techniques with Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), concepts from the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and the concepts from the Book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.

I like to see counselors and counselor educators be fairly compensated (as I believe most are not). The Gottman’s appear to be confident in their worth and offerings and are not afraid to ask for compensation for their offerings (as they should). This is just a consideration if you are looking into Gottman training, as some may find it too expensive. The first level of training was well worth it for me. The second level was also worth it, but I found diminishing returns with some duplicate content and topics. The Gottman’s offer two additional levels of training, and I would love to hear comments from people who have completed these levels. The additional levels allow more practice and role-playing. There is the option to pay to be included in a Gottman directory if one completes enough levels of training. There are options to purchase add-on kits, such as a kit to help couples with their sex lives. There is the option to purchase professional handouts and another option to access an extensive video library. The moral of the story is that I would recommend researching the various pricing options and offerings and make sure what you want is affordable for your budget before diving into training. Of course, one could start with a level or two of training and add on additional options later.

The first version of this post was admittedly brief. A reviewer had a good thought for me to talk more about specific interventions. After consideration, I decided to not pursue this path. The primary reason is I do not believe it is appropriate to try any of the interventions without going through at least the first two levels of their training. There are also so many interventions, it would be difficult to choose. To be cautious, I think it is better not to describe an intervention or two in isolation as I believe one really needs training beyond a blog post to implement them.

Has anyone completed the third or forth levels of Gottman training? What was the experience like? Would you recommend this training for others? Has anyone found joining the Gottman directory to be worth the price? The Gottman method may not be a preferred approach for everyone (e.g. some may prefer a non-secular approach), but has many positive offerings. I have found the training has allowed me to both provide better care and quickly paid for itself by drawing in clients who want a therapist with Gottman training.

Aaron Engel is a professional counselor in Columbus, OH. He works primarily with couples and individuals wanting help with depression, anxiety, and career concerns. As a private practice owner, Aaron strives to provide excellent care with every aspect of the counseling experience. Learn more about him and the services he provides at



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