What is the Gottman Method Couples Therapy Approach

Gottman Method Couples Therapy is an evidence based therapeutic approach to couples therapy developed by Dr. John Gottman & Dr. Julie Gottman. Together they have been researching couples for over 30 years and have identified nine key principals of relationship success. Gottman method couples therapy is different to other relationship therapy approaches. There is strong emphasis on the importance of a thorough relationship assessment, development of communication skills, turning towards and connection and eliminating the four main predictors of divorce called the four horsemen which are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.


Couples who start Gottman Method couples therapy begin with a detailed four part assessment process (approx. four hours) before commencing the couples intervention and counselling.  An initial joint session together, two individual sessions followed by a second joint session. The assessment also includes individually completing an online relationship questionnaire called The Gottman Relationship Checkup. A thorough assessment is crucial in identifying the relationships strengths and weaknesses and each persons individual needs within the relationship.  The therapist receives a  full relationship evaluation and detailed intervention plan which they feedback to the couple once the full assessment is complete. The detailed assessment saves hours of therapy and gives the intervention sessions a very clear and direct focus.

Gottman Method Intervention

Gottman therapy focuses on supporting and coaching couples through the nine principals of healthy long lasting relationships called The Sound Relationship House. These principals are Trust, Commitment, Building Love Maps, Sharing Fondness and Admiration, Turning Towards Instead of Away, Positive Perspective, Managing Conflict, Making Life Dreams Come True and Creating Shared Meaning. The assessment will have identified the couples strengths and weaknesses in each of these 9 areas.

“Every positive thing you do in your relationship is foreplay.”   -Dr John Gottman

Gottman couples therapy helps couples to identify and eliminate what the Gottmans relationship experts describe as The Four Horseman from a relationship. These are criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. These four behaviour traits are the biggest predictors of relationship breakdown and divorce in their 30 years of research based on over 30,000 couples. If you would like to learn more about the resources created by the The Gottman Institute read my article 5 Great Couples Tools to Help Make Love Last.

The Gottman method places strong emphasis on couples practicing their interventions outside of therapy together. Therapists provide a range of practical interventions to help couples practice exercises such as managing conflict, talking in the aftermath of a fight, communication skills, compromising and developing intimacy. Read more about how to Improve your relationship at home without a couples therapist with these Gottman relationship tools.

The Gottman Institute provide live couples workshops many of which can be streamed online, online webinars, best selling relationship books, Gottman apps and a relationship blog.

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy

Orlagh Reid

Orlagh Reid is an IACP accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Addiction Counsellor, Gottman Couples Therapist and Fertility Counsellor in private practice based in Co. Kildare, Ireland and worldwide online via DOXY. She specialises in addiction, recovery, well-being and clinical sexology. To find out more or to book an online consultation visit www.orlaghreid.ie

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy MIACP Therapy Ireland

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