About the Gottman Method

The Gottman Method is an empirically based system for marital counseling based on over 30 years of research on couples by Dr. John Gottman and colleagues at the University of Washington. The emphasis is on helping to rebuild the basic marital friendship and help couples to resolve conflicts. Since first studying this method in the late 1990's, it has been my exclusive focus in working with couples.

Marathon Therapy

One option for beginning couples therapy is to have an intensive all day marathon session. In a marathon session there are eight sessions in one day.  This is different from attending the two day workshop in several ways. The workshop is for many couples at a time, sometimes as many as 100 couples at once. The marathon is one couple and one therapist. The workshop is more structured and educational in design. A marathon is less structured and is more intensive.

The rationale for the marathon sessions is based on research showing that it is more effective to have more marital counseling sessions at the beginning of therapy and then to phase them out later. As an extension of this idea, several Gottman Therapists have been offering marathons to their clients for the past few years.

At the beginning of a marathon I conduct an intake where I ask a series of questions about the history of the relationship and the presenting problems. I try to formulate, with feedback, what seem to be the most pressing issues for the couple, both in terms of content and in terms of how things are discussed. As I am putting together this information there is a constant feedback process with the couple where I am checking out my ideas with them. During this phase of the marathon I also meet individually with each of the partners in order to give them an opportunity to share their concerns and feelings directly.

Following the formulation of the key problem patterns we begin to work on fixing the problem in a variety of ways. This involves focusing on examples where the problem has manifested. For instance if the core problem has to do with a pattern of withdrawal on the part of one of the spouses then we would discuss different times when this problem has occurred. The emphasis of the discussion is on learning and practicing new behaviors as well as well as relieving the current painful symptoms.

One advantage of the marathon model is that it allows us to get a running start at the beginning of therapy. One of my clients once expressed it best while debriefing at the end of a productive marathon session. He said “If we had started the traditional way, we probably would have had the intake, and then gone home and fought with each other for another two weeks.” By choosing the marathon model they were able to leave at the end of the first day with much greater symptom relief as well as an understanding of the problems and what changes needed to be made to fix them.

If you have further questions or would like to make an appointment, call me at (212) 406-3520.