The Gotham 12-Session Couples Therapy Program

A picture of the logos for gotham psychotherapy and the gottman institute.

Carla has been trained in the Gottman Method, an approach to couples therapy based upon Dr. John Gottman’s four decades of research with thousands of couples.

Dr. Gottman has shown how couples can accomplish long-term relationship satisfaction by paying attention to what he calls The Sound Relationship House, or the nine components of healthy relationships. Combining knowledge and wisdom from research and clinical practice, the Gottman Method uses a practical approach to help couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships.

Dr. Gottman has won awards from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Council of Family Relations. He has also been featured in The Atlantic, BBC, Time, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, CNN, The Today Show, The Washington Post, Psychology Today, The Harvard Business Review, Scientific American, and American Psychological Association.

The Gotham Couples Therapy Program is structured as 12 weekly, 50-minute sessions. Upon program completion, as needed maintenance sessions may be scheduled to reinforce the material.

Session Structure
This program begins with a couples assessment process, that then informs the therapeutic framework and intervention. This session is followed by individual interviews with each partner. Once complete, therapy is conducted with both partners in the room. 

Therapeutic Interventions
Interventions are designed to help couples strengthen their relationships in three primary areas: friendship, conflict management, and creation of shared meaning. Couples learn to replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Interventions designed to increase closeness and intimacy are used to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and create changes that enhance the couples shared goals. Relapse prevention is also addressed.

The goals of the Gottman Method are to disarm conflicting verbal communication; increase intimacy, respect, and affection; remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations; and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman developed nine components of healthy relationships known as The Sound Relationship House Theory:

Build Love Maps
How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?

Share Fondness and Admiration
The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)

Turn Towards Instead of Away
State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship.

The Positive Perspective
The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.

Manage Conflict
We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.

Make Life Dreams Come True
Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.

Create Shared Meaning
Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.

This is the state that occurs when a person knows that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with this person is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it). It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.

In his New York Times bestselling book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman writes, “Although you may feel your situation is unique, we have found that all marital conflicts fall into two categories: Either they can be resolved, or they are perpetual, which means they will be part of your lives forever, in some form or another.” Gottman says that 69% of marital conflicts are perpetual problems, and these are of particular focus in much of the work performed by Gottman-trained therapists.

The Gottman Method is designed to support couples across all economic, racial, sexual orientation, and cultural sectors. Outcome research has shown Gottman Method Couples Therapy to be effective for treating same-sex relationships.

Some of the relationship issues that may be addressed in therapy include:

  • Frequent conflict and arguments
  • Poor communication
  • Emotionally distanced couples on the verge of separation
  • Specific problems such as sexual difficulties, infidelity, money, and parenting

Even couples with “normal” levels of conflict may benefit from the Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Gottman-trained therapists aim to help couples build stronger relationships overall and healthier ways to cope with issues as they arise in the future.

Is Dr. Gottman really able to predict whether a couple will get divorced with 94% accuracy?

Dr. Gottman has completed seven longitudinal studies that explored what predicts divorce. On average, he was able
to predict with over 90% accuracy which couples divorced and which stayed together. The often referenced 94% refers to his 1992 study in particular, in which he was able to predict divorce with 93.6% accuracy.

What makes Dr. Gottman such an “expert” regarding marriage and divorce?
For the past 40 years, Dr. John Gottman, now a professor at emeritus at the University of Washington, has studied more than 3,000 couples in research and 4,000 more couples in intervention and treatment research. In addition, he and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, have worked with approximately 8,000 couples in workshop and therapy settings.

If you had to summarize Dr. Gottman’s 40 years of research into two key findings, what would they be?
Happily married couples:
• Behave like good friends and handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways.
• Are able to repair negative interactions during an argument, and they are able to process negative emotions fully.

OK, so what is the point of all this research?
Research enables us to see patterns that allow us to help couples and repair relationships.

If we learned that we were in the category of having a high probability of divorce, does that mean there’s no hope? Should we break up now, even if our relationship seems good to us?
No. The most important discovery to come from Dr. Gottman’s research is which behaviors and problems predict divorce, and from that we can identify what couples need to do differently to protect and strengthen their relationship.

Are there any gender differences between men and women when it comes to physiological arousal?
Our studies have found that men tend to react with more signs of physiological stress than women during disagreements, and therefore, men are more likely to withdraw.

What are the negative behavior patterns that can predict divorce?
Destructive behaviors left unchecked, specifically The Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Source: The Gottman Institute