There are three different ways to begin treatment.

First, you can take a two day workshop at the Gottman Institute in Seattle. Visit www.gottman.com for more information.

You can also begin by doing one or more days of marathon therapy. This involves about eight hours a day with one couple and one therapist. The process is intense but it allows us to get a lot of work done quickly and to get a running start.

Finally, you can make an appointment to begin weekly sessions.

Yes! The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman, is an excellent introduction to the Gottman Method. It will give you some familiarity with some of the techniques and vocabulary used in the system.

The Gottman Method is both a learning and experiential technique. To the extent that you will learn to apply new skills to rebuild the friendship with your partner and resolve conflicts it can only help if you read about these techniques early in therapy.

But it is not essential. People learn in different ways and some people learn better through personal instruction and interaction than through reading.

If you have any questions which are not answered here call and let me know. I'd be glad to take a few minutes to speak to you. Or if you just want to speak for a few minutes before committing to an appointment, that's OK too.

I first started treating couples while I was a graduate student in 1975.

Yes. Sometimes one of the partners has a particular problem which lends itself to individual treatment and I will work with them until it is resolved. Also occasionally there is an anger issue which is better dealt with individually, then worked on within the marriage.

The Gottman Method is unique in that it is based on proven empirical evidence about how couples relate to each other. Most of this research was done over a 30 year span at the University of Washington. In addition the studies on the effectiveness of the techniques has been quite promising. After treatment couples show improvement in four areas: the quality of their friendship; conflict resolution skills; sex, romance and passion; and their shared vision for the future.

The Gottman Method is a learning method and in a sense there is no end to the learning. You might compare it to playing the cello, or writing novels, or playing a sport such as tennis or golf. If you were to begin instruction in any of these areas your teacher might want to know three things before predicting how long the instruction would take: What is your skill level now? Where do you want to get to? How quickly will you learn?

A simpler answer is to say that the outcome studies involved couples who attended a weekend workshop and had twelve weekly sessions. Although not perfect at the end they did show significant improvement.

I've worked with many couples who decided to begin therapy after an affair was discovered. It is important to hear from both parties about the factors leading up to the affair and the impact the affair has had on them personally. The Gottman Method gives us an excellent framework for assessing the marriage and planning how to make the necessary corrections in order to move forward.

I would have to do an assessment in order to judge how serious and how longstanding the problem has been. For more serious problems, marital therapy is not recommended.

No, about half of my practice is with individuals. One of my main research interests is to integrate techniques from marital counseling and individual therapy. It helps me in both areas to stay involved in the other area.

No. I'm interested in helping couples work things out so they can stay together. I can't get too excited about spending my time helping people to stay away from each other.

Contact my colleague Paul Hymowitz at 212.645.8815 or pshymowitz@yahoo.com. He's been doing this work for years and he's very skilled at it.