The Gottman Method is a more structured approach than many other approaches to relationship counselling. It is based on the work of researchers who observed and recorded patterns in relationships over 40 years. Their research followed more than 3500 couples. It taught them to predict with great accuracy (over 94%) whether a marriage would survive or would have ended 6 years later. This research informed the theory of relationship functioning which underpins the Gottman Method.
Outcome research supports the Gottman Method, with couples reporting greater relationship satisfaction after counselling based on this method. Research suggests that the Gottman Method is effective not only for heterosexual couples, but also for couples in same-sex relationships. It may also be useful for couples who do not feel that their conflict level is abnormal, but would like to learn better ways to communicate with and support one another.
The Gottman Method sees a healthy relationship as being represented by 9 levels:
Build love maps
Build fondness and admiration by showing affection and respect in small ways every day
Turn towards opportunities for emotional connections (instead of turning away)
Take a positive perspective towards your partner’s actions (i.e., assume good intentions)
Manage conflict by approaching conflict gently and establishing dialogue about problems
Support each other’s life dreams
Create shared meaning through connection, support and creating shared goals/values
Gottman Method Couples counselling recognises that each couple is unique, and that sometimes problems arise because of mismatches in emotional responses between two people in a relationship. When this is the case, counselling must not only focus on reducing negative conflict, but also on creating or enhancing opportunities for positive interactions.