Gottman Method Couples Therapy (GCT)
Gottman Couples Therapy (GCT), also known as the Gottman Method, is a form of therapeutic intervention which aims to bring couples towards intimacy and understanding. GCT was created by John and Julie Gottman after almost 40 years of researching different relationship patterns. They found that couples in unhealthy relationships often do not make the effort to consciously focus on fondness and admiration for one another but rather only on negative traits. GCT works under the assumption that hostility and distance can harm a relationship much more than we realize they can. In turn, we are unaware of how much we are actually self-destructing our relationships. According to the Gottmans there are two types of problems - perpetual and solvable - and most couples experience perpetual problems. Therefore it is extremely important we learn the right skills to deal with these problems as they come up.
The Gottman Method is based on the Sound Relationship House Theory which was developed by the Gottmans as well. Based on their research, they found nine components of a healthy relationship they incorporated into their therapy.
- Build love maps: Show how well you know and understand your partner’s inner thoughts and feelings
- Share fondness rather than contempt: Try to focus on the positive aspects of your partner rather than the negative ones
- Turn towards instead of away: Remember to respond to your partner when they make attempts to communicate with you
- Maintain a positive perspective: Try to actively engage in problem solving
- Manage conflict: Most conflicts cannot be fully resolved but we should develop the skills to handle them as they arise.
- Make life dreams come true: Understand your partner's goals and dreams so you can help them realize them.
- Create shared meaning: Understand where your relationships lies in the bigger picture, what the true meaning behind it is.
- Trust: This occurs only when you are secure that your partner is looking out for your best interests
- Commitment: We have to understand that the journey with our partners is lifelong and may not always be good times. You must stand by your partner through the ups and downs of life.
Relationships Issues Treated by GCT
- Poor communication
- Frequent arguments
- Emotionally distanced couples
Skills learnt in GCT
- Maintaining relationships
- Conflict management
- Replacing negative conflict patterns with positive ones
The Therapeutic Process
The three main goals for GCT is to 1) disarm verbal conflict 2) increase intimacy and affection) and 3) build empathy and understanding. To achieve these goals the therapists conduct almost all sessions together with both partners - to ensure that everybody is constantly on the same page and can understand each other's thought processes.
The first step is the assessment stage where the therapist will interview the partners individually and then have a conjoint session. Couples will complete a questionnaire to give the therapist an idea of where they stand in the relationship. Next the individuals will learn about the cornerstones of healthy relationships - open communication, trust, intimacy - to help build a foundation to work off of. Lastly, they all work together to build a healthy dialogue of what needs to be changed.
Find out more information about the Gottman Method here: https://www.gottman.com/about/the-gottman-method/
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