Full Course Description

Module 1: The 10 Principles of Effective Couples Therapy: What Science Tells Us and Beyond with Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D. and John Gottman, Ph.D.

Program Information

Target Audience

Addiction Counselors, Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Nurses, Psychologists, Social Worker


  1. Relate Gottmans’ 40 years of research on the dynamics of couples relationships to their principles of effective couples therapeutic assessment and clinical interventions
  2. Breakdown Gottmans’ Sound Relationship House Theory as it relates to achieving desired treatment outcomes
  3. Articulate the principles of effective couples therapy that help to inform the clinician’s choice of treatment interventions
  4. Summarize the components of a comprehensive couples assessment as it relates to clinical case conceptualization
  5. Apply clinical interventions that increase couples’ ability to manage conflict, create intimacy, foster fondness and admiration, and create a positive perspective of their relationship
  6. Teach clients the 5 steps of relationship repair for processing past fights, regrettable incidents or past emotional injuries.


  • What is True About Couples?
  • Findings Regarding Friendship
  • Findings Regarding Conflict Management
  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
    • Criticism
    • Contempt
    • Defensiveness
    • Stonewalling
  • Characteristics of Creating Shared Meaning
  • Sound Relationship House Therapy
  • Principles of Doing Good Couples Therapy
  • How to Assess
    • Oral History
    • Questionnaires
    • Individual Assessments
    • Conflict Management
      • Skills
      • Interventions
  • Exercises
    • Love Map
    • Open-Ended Questions
    • Stress-Reducing Conversation
    • Rituals of Connection
    • Strengthening Sexual Intimacy
    • Creating Shared Meaning

Copyright : 03/28/2015

Module 2: 10 Principles for Doing Effective Couples Therapy

Program Information


  1. Incorporate researched-based strategies into clinical practice to help couples improve their relationships
  2. Analyze the strength of couple intimacy and friendship in order to understand how relationship patterns influence love, trust, and conflict management
  3. Utilize resources and tools to help clients enhance friendship and intimacy in their relationship
  4. Examine the role of therapist in improving couple interactions and therapy outcomes, including understanding the collaborative nature of therapy, incorporating research findings, and use of interventions
  5. Provide detailed demonstrations and case studies identifying each of the 10 principles and how to effectively utilize the techniques and interventions with couples
  6. Summarize factors that contribute to affairs in marriage, and analyze the misconceptions about marital infidelity
  7. Identify the Gottman 3 step process in treating affairs to improve clinical outcomes
  8. Describe the implications of the Gottman method of couple’s therapy for addiction, personality disorders, and domestic violence
  9. Examine how to prevent adverse behavior relapse during and after therapy
  10. Teach self-soothing strategies to help manage flooding in couples
  11. Modify treatment strategies for couples who have experienced domestic violence and infidelity
  12. Explore past hurtful couple experiences to reduce their negative impact and help clients move forward together toward improved treatment outcomes.
  13. Articulate clinical strategies that aid in reducing conflict in couples
  14. Facilitate healthy sharing of feeling, active listening, and increased empathy between conflicted partners in session



Introduction to Speakers and their Experience

  • Dave Penner interviews John & Julie Gottman


  • Motivations for pursuing couple therapy career
  • Lessons Learned along the way
  • Self-care efforts in work with difficult couples
  • Early Gottman research milestones

Overview of Gottmans’ 10 Principles


Principle 1: Use Researched Based Methods for Doing Couple Therapy

The Importance of Research in Couple Therapy

  • If you can measure it, You can build it

Common Relationship Myths

Limits to Research on Compatibility

Factors that Predict Relationships

  • Predicting Stability
  • Predicting Instability

What Couples Fight About Most

Role of Conflict in Divorce Prediction

  • Not all conflict is the same

Impact of Loss of Admiration

  • Nonverbal indicators of Couple Connection

Domestic Violence in Relationships

  • Characterological: No-Guilt Perpetrator & Fearful Victim
    • Pitbulls: Flooded Violence
    • Cobras: Calculated Violence
  • Situational: Mutual minor violence motivated by a share desire for change

New Research on Treating Affairs


Principle 2: Assess First, Then Decide on Treatment

The Assessment Process

  • Step 1: Obtain a Narrative for Couple Therapy Goals
  • Step 2: Oral Relationship History
  • Step 3: Sample Conflict Discussion

Relationship Checkup Online Assessment

Providing Therapist Feedback on Couple Strengths & Challenges

The Value of Assessment Prior to Treatment

  • Making Assessment Feeling like Therapy
  • Assessments save therapy time
  • Assessments help reveal couple strengths and generate hope

Impact of an Affair on the Assessment

Modifying assessment to short term treatment constraints

Relationship Assessment Questionnaire

  • Active and Engaged Assessment

* Video Case Study (Mike & Marilyn):

  • Marathon Therapy, Oral History


Principle 3: Understand each partner’s world

Determining which partner to see first

No secrets policies

  • Benefits & Risks

Identifying when Couple therapy is premature

Asking about Domestic Violence

  • A nonjudgmental approach to dishonesty

* Video Case Study:

  • Individual Focus with Partner Present


Principle 4: Map your Treatment Route

Preparing to Give Feedback to Couples

  • Review conflict resolution skills
  • Review individual issues they brought into the relationship

When Partners view their relationship differently

When One Partner is engaged and the other is checked out

* Video Case Study: Assessment

  • Co-Morbidities
  • Affair-related PTSD

Therapist as Holder of Hope

  • Humility & Empirically Based Tools

Sitting with the Couple’s Truth

  • vs. Changing Couple Perceptions

Giving Feedback to Couples

Sound Relationship House

  • Defining the couple’s level
  • Identifying couple progress
  • Providing tools for help and hope
  • Confirming fit with couple’s relationship perception

Duration of Therapy Process

* Video Case Study

  • Overview of Atonement, Attunement, Attachment


Principle 5: Soothe Yourself and then Intervene

Two Aspects of Soothing

  • Helping Flooded Couples
  • Preventing Flooded Therapists

Helping Flooded Couples

  • Clinical Role Play
  • Increasing Couple Physiological Self-Awareness
  • Role of Physiology on Relational Dynamics
    • Flooding as Hostility and Helplessness
  • Couple Self-Soothing Strategies
    • Pause the Interaction
    • Designate a Return Time
    • Relaxation Exercises
    • Lower Heart Rate

Preventing Flooded Therapists

  • Therapist Self-Care Strategies
  • Model Calmness to Couple
  • Utilize Strategic Distractions


Principle 6: Process Regrettable Incidents

Managing Conflict: The Aftermath of a fight or regrettable incident

The Benefit of Processing an Incident to Let Go of the Past

  • Step 1: Sharing Feelings
    • Listening to each other’s Point of View
    • Eliminating Criticism and Blame
  • Step 2: Empathizing, Summarizing, Validating
  • Step 3: Identifying & Expressing Triggers
  • Step 4: Taking Responsibility
    • Beyond “I’m Sorry”
  • Step 5: Moving Forward
    • Doing things differently to avoid repeat experiences
  • The necessity of mutuality

Confronting the Barrier of Rightness

  • Validation without Agreement

Addressing Unequal Responsibility

Recent and Distant Past Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution Modifications

  • Infidelity
  • Characterological Domestic Violence

* Video Case Study: Attunement

  • Domestic Violence Safety Assessment
  • Nonjudgmental Care and Concern


Principle 7: Replace the Four Horsemen with Gentle Conflict Management Skills

How to Replace the 4 Horsemen with Gentle Conflict Management

  • Background of the 4 Horsemen
  • Ratio of Positive to Negative as Predictor of the Future of the Relationship

Power of Emotions

  • Not all Emotions are Equal in their Impact
  • Empirical Analysis of Which Negative Emotions are the Best Predictors of the Demise of Relationships
    • Criticism, Defensiveness Stonewalling, Contempt

Video Case Study

  • Introduction to the Couple Steve & Krista
  • Contempt: Looking Down on Someone From a Place of Superiority
  • Criticism: Attributing a Lasting Negative Trait to Someone
    • Antidote to Criticism & Contempt
      • Don’t Describe Your Partner; Describe Yourself Using Feeling Statements
      • “I feel” and “I need”
      • For Contempt, Build a Culture of Appreciation
      • Say Positive Things about Your Partner
      • Notice What They’re Doing Right
      • Be Grateful

Criticism & Defensiveness

  • Counterproductive Defensive Responses to Criticism
    • Counterattack Criticism
    • “You Always, You Never” Criticism
    • The Key is to Describe Yourself; Take Responsibility
  • Therapist’s Response to Criticism & Defensiveness
    • Stop the Interaction
    • Point out the Horsemen
    • Define The Horsemen
    • Discuss the Research
    • Provide the Antidote
  • Contempt as the Most Corrosive of Love Health & the Best Predictor of Relationship Demise

Gottman Rapport Intervention

  • Premise: Postponing Problem Solving, Persuasion, or Advise Until Able to State the Other’s Position
    • People Must Be Calm in order to do this
  • Speaker Role
    • Gentle Start-up
  • No Attacking/Blaming
  • Listener Role:
    • Active & Compassionate Listening
    • Listening to Understand, Not Prove a Rebuttal
  • Goal of conflict Management: Mutual Understanding
  • Video Case Study
    • Validating is Not the Same as Agreeing
    • The Approach is Generally Well Received by Couples

Dreams Within Conflict Intervention

  • Intervention Questions
  • What is this About for You?
  • What is the Existential Core?
  • Is There a Childhood Issue/History?
  • What is the Purpose or Meaning Behind Your Position?
  • Video Case Study
  • Goal: To Understand Our Partner’s Position
  • Coaching the Partner to Ask Questions Meets the Goal of  Eliminating the Therapist
  • Without an Understanding of the Partner’s Feelings; you Won’t have a Full Understanding of Them
  • When Dreams are in Opposition
  • No Compromise

Compromise Intervention

  • Video Case Study
  • Differences Between Inflexible (Non-Compromise) and the Flexible (Willing to Compromise) Tasks
  • Inflexible: The Ideal Dream/Core Need That if you Give it Up, You’re Giving Up Your Identity
  • Flexible: The “Who, What, Where, When, & Why” of Making the Compromise Happen
  • Sometimes an Inner circle Cannot Be Compromised On
    • Topics of Kids, Blended Families, Living in Separate Countries
    • May Result in Separation
  • Solvable Problems = Compromise
  • Perpetual Problems = Making Temporary Compromises & Revising Periodically


Principle 8: Strengthen Friendship & Intimacy


  • Gottman’s Free Love Maps Card Deck Apps
    • Downloadable Forms
    • Card Decks (Gottman Institute)
    • Free apps Containing the Card Decks

Friendship Interventions / What Kind of Friends Are the Couple

3 Components of Friendship

  • Knowing Your Partner Intimately
  • Fondness & Admiration
  • Turning Towards vs. Turning Away From vs. Turning Against

Love Maps

  • Video Case Study
    • Defining Knowing Who Your Partner is
    • How to Use the Love Maps Card Deck
    • Partners Answer Different Questions (More Dynamic)
  • How to Respond to the Differences in How Well Partners Know Each Other
    • Focus on the Dynamic Between Them (Rather than Blaming)
  • Range of Depth in Questions
    • Reflects the Levels/Complexities of the Partner
  • Couple/Partner Resistance to Love Map Questions
    • Managing the Exercises: In Session, As Homework, For a Brief Time Before Transitioning to Open-Ended Questions

Open Ended Questions

  • Open-Ended Questions App
  • Differences Between Love Map & Open-Ended Questions
    • Love Map: Introduction, Simple, Shorter
    • Open-Ended: Much Longer, More In-Depth Answers, Deepens Partners Knowledge of the Other
  • Video Case Study
    • Both Partners Answer the Same Questions (More Depth)
    • Themes: Emptiness, Happiness, Black & White/All Good or All Bad Thinking
  • Good-Enough Therapy
    • Therapy as Collaborative Effort
    • Couples Bring the Depth to the Therapy Sessions
    • Work with the Interventions Based on Research
    • Follow Therapist Intuition
    • Direct Couple to Talk to Each Other vs. Talk to Therapist
      • Healthy Couples Talk to Each Other
      • Focus on Talking to Therapist
        • When Emotions Do Not Match Words
        • When One Partner Becomes Anxious, Stonewalls, or Shuts Downs
        • When There is a Turning Away or Turning Towards (Change in Body Posture)
  • The Stress Reducing Conversation
  • Discussing Stressors Occurring Outside of the Relationship
  • Turning Towards/Turning Away
  • Video Case Study
  • Overview
  • Steps to the Stress Reducing Conversation
    • Show Interest by Asking Partner Questions
    • Empathize (Making a Statement About Partner’s Feelings)
    • Take Your Partner’s Side
  • When Partner’s Resist Sharing Their Stress
  • Highlight the Human need to Receive & Give
  • Identify Where Partner Puts their Stress 


Principle 9: Dive Deep to Create Shared Meaning


  • Card Decks & Handouts

Establishing a Stronger Bond

  • Doing Things Together
  • Establishing Meaning of Those Things
  • The Logistics of Making a Ritual (Based on the Works of William Doherty)

Case Study: Rituals of Connection

  • 2 Card Decks
  • Fun & Play Deck
  • Rituals of Connection Deck
    • Establishing a Regular Time Where You Can Connect
    • Establishing a Time You Can Connect
    • Chose a Card to Build a Ritual of Connection Around that also Has Deep Meaning
    • How Were Things Done in Your Own Family
    • What You Would Like the Ritual to Look Like in Your Family
    • What Makes a Ritual Meaningful
    • Detailed Specific Questions Regarding How to make the Ritual a Reality
    • Rituals of Connection
  • Therapists Role
    • Manage Therapist’s Emotions
    • Stop Any Criticism

Difference Between Creating Shared Meaning & Deepening Friendship

  • Friendship is Feeling Safe & Vulnerable Enough to Talk About What’s In One’s Heart.
    • Are You There for me?
    • Do you Know What I need?
    • Do I know What My Partner Needs?
  • Creating Shared Meaning Elevens the Relationship to a More Profound Level
    • What Makes Your life Worth Living
    • May Reflect Cultural, Religious, & Family Legacy Matters
    • Reflecting & Sharing Out Loud
    • Examples of Shared Meaning


Principle 10: Suspend Moral Judgment When Treating Affairs

Misconceptions About Affairs

  • Affairs Happen Because Partner is Searching for Romance/Self-Identity
  • Affairs Happen Due to a Desire for Sex
  • Happily Married Couples Have Affairs
  • The Truth: Affairs are the Result of Loneliness in Marriage
  • To Understand Affairs; We Must Understand Loyalty & Commitment

The Stance/Internal World of Therapist

  • Take Judgment Out of the Session
  • Recognize that Couples Make Choices
    • Voice their Discontent
    • Shut Down Their Feelings
    • Seek Out a New Partners
  • Recognize that the Conditions Leading to Affairs are a Series of Steps
    • Romance
    • Conflict
    • Avoidance of Conflict
    • Disengagement/Distance 
      • Vulnerability to Affairs
  • Have Compassion for Both Partners
    • Betrayed Partner May be Suffering from PTSD
    • Betrayer Partner Often Has Great Guilt/Shame

Three Step Process for Treating Affairs

  • Atone
    • Betrayed Partner Can Ask Any Question They Want
    • Betrayed Partner Expresses Their Feelings & How They’ve Been Hurt w/o Blaming
    • Betrayer Partner Hears Partner’s Feelings
    • Betrayer Partner Answers Questions with Transparency
    • Betrayer Partner Empathizes
    • Betrayer Partner Expresses Profound Remorse
  • Attune
    • Betrayed Partner Feels Better Because they Understand That Betrayer Partner Does Feel Guilt/Remorse
    • Evaluating What Went Wrong
    • Conflict Management
    • Creating Friendship & Shared Meaning
    • Rebuilding Physical Intimacy
  • Attach
    • Re-committing to One Another
    • Identifying How to Preserve the Commitment
    • Discussing Consequences Should an Affair Happen Again


Hold the Hope

Helping the Therapist to Hold the Hope for their Couple Clients

  • Recognize the Couple’s Resilience
  • Note Positive Memories Shared by the Couple
  • Know that Human Beings Will Surprise You
  • Reinforce Desired Behaviors
  • Recognize that Everyone Has Their Own Path
    • Ultimately the Outcome of Therapy Belongs to the Couple


Tying It Together

Outline of a Typical Session

  • Opening Question (e.g., “How Was Your Week?”)
  • Couple’s Response is What is at the Forefront of Their Minds
  • Therapist Provides Appropriate Interventions Based on Couple’s Response

Dyadic vs. Triadic Treatment

  • Dyadic Places the Emphasis on Couples Talking to Each Other (Duplicates Real Life in the Office)
  • Triadic Places the Emphasis on Therapist’s Interpretations & Observations of the Couple
  • Exceptions to Dyadic Treatment
    • When a Partner is Unaware of How a Piece of Their History is Related to the Relationship Dynamics
    • When a Partner is Becoming Emotionally Triggered
    • When a Couple is in an Attack/Defend Patterns and Unable to Communicate Effectively Due to Flooding

How to Minimize Relapse

  • Discuss Relapse Prevention in Treatment (e.g., “How Can We Make This Last All Week?”)
  • Emphasize the Need for Repair Throughout the Day, Week, Marriage

Gottman Approach Appropriateness for Specific Problems

  • Addiction
    • Very Appropriate
    • Couples Work is Sometimes More Effective than Individual
    • Only 30% Success Rate Even with the Best Treatments
  • Personality Disorder
    • Appropriate; Challenging, but Possible
    • Be Aware that a Person May be Misdiagnosed
    • Empathy Interventions are the Most Difficult
    • Requires More of a Triadic Treatment
    • Treatment Takes Longer
    • Best to Understand Personality Disorders from the Inside
  • Gottman Approach is Not Appropriate
    • When There is Characterological Domestic Violence
    • When There is an Ongoing Affair
    • When a Partner is Actively Suicidal
    • When a Partner is Psychotic

Cross Cultural Applicability

  • Happiness, Factors that Create a Great Sex Life, Emotion Coaching & Nature of Emotions are Universal
  • People Need Human Connection
  • More Research on the Topic is Needed

Myths About the Gottman Approach

  • Behavioral Therapy Approach
  • Psychoeducational Approach
  • Reality: The Gottman Approach is Emotional, Physiological, Existential, Narrative, & Empirically Focused
Creating Understanding and Expression of Emotions is a Central Feature

Target Audience

Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Counselors, Nurses, Addiction Counselors

Copyright : 03/07/2018