The Gottman approach to couples therapy is an integrative approach to therapy based on what John and Julie Gottman call the Sound Relationship House Theory. Therapy focuses on strengthening relationships in three main areas: friendship, conflict management, and shared meaning. The therapist begins with a thorough assessment of the relationship to provide feedback to the couple and inform the therapeutic process.
This assessment process includes questionnaires, individual and joint interviews so therapy can be tailored to each couple’s unique needs. It is during this time that the therapist will determine the number of sessions and length of treatment, as it varies from one couple to the next. In Gottman therapy, conflict is viewed as natural and necessary within relationships. Research shows that most conflict within relationships is unresolvable due to lasting differences in personalities and needs. Therefore, therapy is focused on building empathy and learning to dialogue about perpetual conflicts, rather than having a conflict-free relationship. Couples learn to replace negative approaches to conflict with positive ones, deepen their friendship and intimacy, and create changes that support their shared goals.