What is the Gottman Method? (Pros and Cons)

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Published Date|
December 2, 2023

What is the Gottman Method? (Pros and Cons)

You’re interested in starting couples counselling, but there are even more options than you expected.

If you find yourself having the same arguments with your partner over and over again, and you’re ready to work on communication to improve your relationship, The Gottman Method might be exactly what you’re looking for.

But what is the Gottman Method - and how do you know if it’s the right fit for you?

As a therapist at KMA Therapy, I know that deciding to come to couples counselling is a big step. You want to make sure the time, money, and energy you’re investing into therapy is worth it - so you want to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

After reading this article, you’ll know what the Gottman Method is, what happens during couples counselling using the Gottman Method, and how to know whether it might be the right choice for you.

What is the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method is an approach to couples therapy developed by John and Julie Gottman based on extensive research done over decades in what is playfully called their “Love Lab”. 

The Gottman Method uses a framework called The Sound Relationship House Theory to provide a roadmap for you to consider and strengthen your relationship across nine dimensions. 

The nine dimensions of the Gottman method are:

  1. Trust
  2. Commitment
  3. Managing conflict
  4. Building love maps
  5. The positive perspective
  6. Creating shared meaning
  7. Sharing fondness and admiration
  8. Making life dreams come true together
  9. Turning toward each other instead of away

By focusing on these components, you can create a more solid foundation for a resilient, enduring, and fulfilling partnership. 

The theory is informative for couples, giving you practical tools you can use to not only maintain, but strengthen your love and relationship.

To learn more about the nine dimensions of the Gottman method, read 27 Questions to Strengthen your Relationship Using the Gottman Method.

What Happens During Couples Therapy Using the Gottman Method?

In Gottman Method couples therapy, your therapist begins with a thorough assessment. 

This assessment will explore:

  • How you argue
  • How you communicate
  • How you spend time together
  • What your relationship looks like
  • What your shared values and goals look like

They then use tools and interventions to help you build a foundation of friendship, manage conflicts, and create shared meaning in their relationship. 

Your therapy sessions will typically involve fostering positive communication, identifying destructive patterns of interaction, and working on specific skills to improve the overall quality of your relationship.

gottman method pros and cons

What are the Pros of the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method is grounded in tons of scientific research on successful relationships.

It’s an effective and flexible method, meaning that it can help you work through a wide range of issues you may be facing in your relationship.

The Gottman method might be a great choice for you if:

  • You prefer a structured approach to therapy
  • You’re experiencing multiple issues in your relationship, including communication issues
  • You’re entering a new stage in your relationship, like getting married, having children, or working through a new challenge

The structured framework of the Gottman method provides clear goals and interventions. It isn’t just talk, you’ll be working through a specific treatment plan to get you to a stronger, more fulfilling place.

The Gottman method is also effective in addressing various issues, including communication problems and conflict resolution. It can be useful if you are going through something difficult, feel your relationship has gone stale, or just want to strengthen your partnership more.

It’s also applicable to different stages of relationships, including premarital counselling, new relationships, mature marriages, and couples expecting kids.

What are the Cons of the Gottman Method?

While the Gottman Method is a great way to address the root of ongoing conflicts and prioritize your partner, it might not be the right fit for every relationship.

The Gottman method may not be the right choice for you if:

  • You’re experiencing personal mental health issues you’d like to address before exploring your relationship dynamics
  • You’re dealing with a complex relationship dynamic, including complex mental health issues
  • You’re interested in exploring a non-traditional relationship structure

Individual or personal mental health issues aren’t the main focus of The Gottman Method, which primarily focuses on the dynamics between partners. It might not be as effective for individuals dealing with personal mental health issues.

In complex cases, involving severe relationship distress or complex mental health issues, additional therapeutic approaches or interventions might be necessary.

The Gottman method also emphasizes a traditional relationship structure, meaning that for a relationship to work, you must build a more intimate relationship with your partner than most others. 

This method might not make sense for your relationship if you’re interested in exploring non-traditional relationship structures, such as ethical non-monogamy.

The Gottman method also might not adequately address cultural nuances, for example in the context of some cultures who may value extended family more than partnerships.

What are Some Alternatives to the Gottman Method?

After learning about the pros and cons of the Gottman Method, you might be interested in learning about some alternatives.

Alternatives to the Gottman method include:

  • Narrative Therapy
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
  • Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Narrative Therapy explores the stories and narratives that shape a couple's relationship and identity and may be good for couples that are looking to rewrite their shared story into a new, more positive one.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) centers on emotions and attachment in relationships and may be good for couples that want to transform their emotional responses and de-escalate patterns that lead to emotional disconnection.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is good for couples who want to take a goal-oriented approach that builds on a couple's strengths, goals, and futures, rather than exploring the origins of the problem.

Next Steps for Beginning Therapy

After reading this article, you know the pros and cons of the Gottman method, and how to know whether it may be a great fit for you.

Deciding to come to couples counselling is a big step to take - but you don’t have to take it alone.

Fill out our Registration Form to get started today, or explore our Therapy 101 Guide to learn more.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, check out these articles:

About the author:

Julieta is a compassionate and dedicated therapist who believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to live their best life. She uses an empathetic approach to create a safe and supportive environment where clients feel comfortable sharing their experiences. 

Julieta's approach to therapy is holistic, drawing on a range of techniques to help clients achieve lasting change. She believes that therapy is not just about addressing immediate challenges, but about helping individuals to build a deeper understanding of the self, and the resilience they need to navigate life's ups and downs with confidence and self-assurance.

Book an appointment with Julieta to start your therapy journey today.

Author |
Julieta Melano Zittermann
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