The Gottman Method

Peg Walsh APRN Therapy Blog

40 Years of Studies and Practice Bring Couples Closer

Peg Walsh employs the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy. She is listed on the Gottman Referral Network.

This way of working with couples is dyadic, meaning that much of the therapy occurs in conversations between the couple. These conversations are structured and coached by the therapist. The goal is to help partners increase their ability to hear and validate each other so that respect, affection, and closeness deepen. The Gottman method enables the couple to outgrow the therapist. That is the benefit of the dyadic structure. The couples do the work in the session so they can carry out their improved communication at home. Sessions are frequent in the beginning and fade out as the couple makes progress.

The Gottman research identified how happy couples have useful conflict and how they build up an emotional bank account by turning towards each other in the countless bids for connection that are made during their time together. Every time they turn towards each other in these minor day to day exchanges, they put a “penny” in their emotional bank account. When they turn away or ignore their partner’s bid, a “nickel” falls out of the emotional bank account. When they have stress or disagreement, if their emotional bank account is full, it is easier for them to give their partner the benefit of the doubt and open dialogue about the distressing event. When the emotional bank account is empty, they can easily experience a distressing behavior by the partner as something very negative and hurtful. Intense conflict can ensue without really understanding what is going for either one of them.

The Gottman Method is based on principles which are capture in the above template: The Sound Relationship House.

  • Knowing each others inner world (Love Maps)
  • Sharing fondness and admiration (my partner appreciates me and tells me so)
  • Turning towards each other’s bids for connection rather than turning away or turning against
  • Positive perspective vs being in “negative sentiment override” where the partner can’t do anything right
  • Managing conflict: couples learn to use “soft start up” and avoid criticism, contempt and defensiveness.
  • Staying alert to getting emotionally flooded and effectively self-soothing or soothing each other
  • Repairs – couples learn how to autocorrect when their relationship is getting derailed
  • Making each other’s dreams come true
  • Creating shared meaning – their relationship has a mission or purpose
  • Trust
  • Commitment

Walsh has completed level 3 training in the Gottman Method and is in the program leading towards certification. This allows her to be an expert in relationship support and marriage counseling. For more information or to book a session, visit her website to get started on creating a happier relationship.