Gottman Model



The Gottman Model is a therapeutic approach that was created by clinical and research specialist Jon Gottman. His couple based therapy focuses on helping couples break through barriers and possess a deeper understanding of each other. Treatment is structure based and the therapists design the goals for the couple based off of their wants and needs. The therapy is scientifically formulated and the strategies are the result of three decades of analytical data. The Gottman Model was created for couples who need more respect and intimacy in their relationship as well as for those who cannot find a way to resolve their differences. It has proven effective in making a relationship or marriage last because it shows the partners how they can manage their own conflict through support and solution.

Goals of the Gottman Model

The Gottman Model focuses on the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" which is a component of the model. When using the guidelines a therapist will look at the criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling within the relationship. If the couple is constantly criticizing or generalizing each other, attacking self esteem, seeing themselves as the victim and withdrawing from the relationship to avoid conflict then they are in need problem solving. If the partners are making excuses and cross complaining they are defending themselves and may be unaware that they are actually in the wrong. The goal of the Gottman Model is to base the therapy off of whether or not the partners partake in any of these obstructive activities. If only one partner is doing this it can destroy a relationship because of the inability to see that the behavior is tearing apart the other person.  

When is the Gottman Model Used?

The Gottman Model is used when two people experience difficulty in sustaining a relationship because of their varying outlooks, wants or needs in a relationship. It's often that the issue is because there is a communication problem and different goals or hobbies. The model can successfully be used on any couple who is unsure as to how they should resolve their differences. Regardless of what the issue might be there is a structure that can organize the relationship and bring the two partners together so that they can co-exist in a state that is progressive and durable. It's important to understand each other in the relationship by practicing integrity and focusing on what both people want as a result of the partnership.  

How the Gottman Model Works

There are 7 principles in the Gottman Model: Enhancing the love, nurturing the admiration, turning toward each other, allowing influence, solving the issues that can be changed, overcoming gridlock and creating shared meaning. The model shows couples how being emotionally intelligent and familiar with one another is going to be beneficial in the long run. It deliberates to a partnership that the two most important elements within a relationship is the nurturing and admiration. Without honor and respect it is likely that the partnership will not be rewarding in any manner.

By giving into reasonable influence - a common ground can be found and both partners can balance one another. This is effective as long as both are willing to be influenced. Throughout the gridlock step the partners must look into each other's goals so that they can take those into consideration when decisions are being made. The two must push past gridlock to become a part of each other's future. Once the couple has learned how to create a shared meaning in their values and legacy they can begin to form a strong bond. The relationship should unite their dreams instead of separate them and allow flexibility so that they can accept the other person's happiness.

The Gottman approach gives a relationship the framework that it needs to find duality. By following the model throughout therapy a couple can learn about communication styles and how speaking to each other can fix many of the problems. This model illustrates that if a couple is constantly criticizing, defending, refusing and in contempt then they are in need of a therapeutic solution. The type of session that uses this model may vary – some professionals may abide by it in couples therapy or family systems therapy. Common ground can often be found when the therapist seeks out to help a couple find harmonies in the most convenient manner. By going to counseling and basing the healing off of the Gottman's approach the couple will find clarity in making it last as long as both partners want to sustain the relationship.


Gottman, J. (n.d.). A general systems theory of marriage: Nonlinear difference equation modeling of marital interaction. Retrieved from

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