Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Art & Science of Love Workshop

We are proud to share this new promotional video from The Gottman Institute! Based on 40+ years of research by Dr. John Gottman, The Art & Science of Love Couples Workshop is designed for ALL couples in a committed relationship. Research shows that on average, couples wait six years from the first signs of problems before they seek help. If you have a strong relationship, this workshop will provide you with insights and tools to make it a great one. If your relationship is distressed, this two-day workshop will provide a road map for repair. No public discussions or disclosure is involved. All work is done as a couple.

This two-day workshop will give you new insights and research-based relationship skills that can dramatically improve the intimacy and friendship in your relationship and help you resolve conflict in a healthy, productive way

At the workshop, couples will learn how to:
  • Foster respect, affection, and closeness
  • Build and share a deeper connection with each other's inner world
  • Keep conflict discussions calm
  • Break through and resolve conflict gridlock
  • Strengthen and maintain the gains in your relationship

Join the thousands of couples who have learned The Art & Science of Love by coming to one of our reknowned weekend workshops! 

  • Shown to acheive results similar to those of 6 months of marital therapy (though the workshop is not therapy)
  • Produces positive results for 86% of those who attend (based on exit surveys)

The Art & Science of Love is offered live in Seattle several times per year with Drs. John & Julie Gottman, or around the country with one of our Senior Certified Gottman Therapists. Along with the memory of re-connecting and the knowledge that "we can do this!", you will take home a box of techniques, cards, tools and tips to support your relationship in your everyday lives. 

The live workshop is the single best way to learn this material. If you can't attend one, the next best option is to try The Art & Science of Love via our home study DVD box set

To hear from real couples that have benefitted from this workshop, click here. Registration is currently open for the upcoming workshop in February. Be sure to secure your space now before it sells out. Questions? See our ASL Workshop FAQ page here

All for now,
M. Fulwiler
TGI Staff

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trust and Betrayal

In today's blog posting, we would like to share an article written by Jillian Raftery on Dr. Gottman’s methodology in studying the bare bone structure of relationships. This article discusses trust and betrayal, the subject of Dr. Gottman’s most recent book. If you’ve been following along on our blog, we’d like to remind you that the study of bidding (turning towards, away, or against your partner’s bids for connection) is critical to determining the trajectory of your relationship. Trust is made and broken in those small moments - the seemingly meaningless daily interactions you have with your partner - in which you must make deeply meaningful choices. Will you respond in a positive way, showing them appreciation and building your mutual trust, or will you unthinkingly and inattentively create unintentional mistrust by turning away or against their bids? Here’s MyNorthwest’s take on why it matters:

Trust and Betrayal: What Makes Love Last?
By Jillian Raftery

Dr. John Gottman has found that there are two key ingredients in the success or failure of any relationship: trust and betrayal.

Bill Radke wanted to get deeper into these topics with psychologist Dr. John Gottman, author of "What Makes Love Last?" about what separates healthy relationships from struggling ones.

Dr. Gottman, co-founder of Seattle's Gottman Relationship Institute, has spent 40 years studying the way couples interact. He says his basic method is to bring them into his Love Lab to observe them for 24 hours just doing what they normally do. Dr. Gottman follows up with these couples, studying some relationships for as long as 20 years.

He and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, use this basic research to understand and prevent marital discord and try to turn around unhealthy relationships.

"We really focus on, not only helping the general public, but also training therapists and also doing the research that shows that what we claim is really credible," says Gottman.

Based on this research, Gottman has found that there are two key ingredients in the success or failure of any relationship: trust and betrayal.

"There are lots of ways to betray somebody," says Gottman, "For example, just lying is a betrayal. Not being transparent - being hidden - is a way of betraying."

When most people hear the word betrayal in a relationship context, they think of a partner who has an affair, but Gottman says betrayal is much simpler than that. One of the most common forms of betrayal Gottman sees in relationships is when one partner forms a coalition with another family member against their partner.

One of the most deadly betrayals, however, is when a partner is constantly thinking that they can do better than their current situation. It prevents couples from working on making their partnership better.

"For example, when you start thinking, 'I can do better than my partner,' rather than cherishing what you have, resenting what you don't have - that's the seed of betrayal and predicts affairs," says Gottman.

Individuals who think, 'How can I do better than my partner?' are betraying the relationship because they aren't really committed. To be loyal to your partner, it's important to think about the positives - even when you might not want to.

"Going through life looking at the negative, rather than really being grateful for what we have - and that nurturing of gratefulness is the secret of loyalty in a relationship," says Gottman.

According to Gottman, it's important to get in the habit of being appreciative and thinking about the positive aspects of your relationships. Many couples have different ways to do this.

Gottman, who is Jewish, says he sings a proverb to his wife every single Friday. It's a traditional Hebrew hymn written to appreciate the good things about the partnership that they have.

When he sings to his wife, he says, he always appreciates her positives and what she adds to his life, rather than focusing on resentment for what's missing or what makes him angry about their latest argument.

"It's hard for me to get through it without getting choked up because I'm really telling my wife, 'You know, you're really amazing. And because of you I really feel honored among men,'" says Gottman. "'I feel proud of the fact that I have this wonderful family and if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have this great daughter, you know, you're an amazing mother. You're a giving, charitable person, you're a wonderful friend.' And as I think about that I feel tremendously blessed by my wife."


See the original article

All for now,
E. Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Humor In Bids: How Laughter Can Save Your Relationship

According to Dr. Gottman, sharing humor with your partner is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your relationship. Surprising each other with random acts of hilarity, enjoying playful back-and forths, giving yourselves to the moment – these are ways in which your time together is gradually filled with a sense of laughter and joy.  As Dr. Gottman explains in The Relationship Cure, all that playfulness requires is a willingness to turn toward another’s sense of silliness… and have a little bit of fun!

In everyday situations, you often have the chance to react to situations in a variety of different ways. Imagine the following scenario:

Lila asked her husband Charlie to help her in the backyard on a sunny afternoon. She’s been having some back pain and wants to untangle a particularly stubborn thicket of weeds, creeping steadily closer and more alarmingly to the rose garden that she loves.
To add further cause for delight to an already wonderfully pleasurable activity, the rain from the night before has caused enormous sludge puddles through which they are constantly forced to squelch in their relatively useless leaky boots.  Charlie obliges, but isn’t being particularly helpful, not knowing a cabbage from a daffodil.

As Lila grows more and more irritated by his incompetence and he grows more and more annoyed by her maddening micromanagement, she tops everything off by accidentally splashing him with the overabundant mud. Covered in mud, Charlie turns towards Lila.
He has two choices. He can express his exasperation at the entire state of affairs in which he has been mired, or he can look at their mutually muck covered state and see the humor in a completely absurd situation.

Looking at his wife with a mischievous glint in his eye, he dips his finger into a bit of reddish dirt on his jacket, and draws a frowny face with it on her arm. With the paradoxical air of an exhausted rogue, she draws two streaks of red dirt war paint across his cheeks. He returns the favor.
Now laughing hysterically at their mud covered selves, they are able to see the hilarious nature of their predicament, and the end of their struggles are punctuated by fits of hysterical giggling.

What has Charlie done in the scene above? He has done something incredible: he has converted a potentially explosive situation into a moment of hilarity.
By engaging his wife in play, he has made them into a team – sweaty, exhausted, trapped in muck, a hilarious double act. Relieving tension, he has alerted his wife to the comedic value of their plight! Remember the endless wisdom of Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP! – the job's a game!”

Luckily, most moments you share with your partner are much easier to fill with laughter. T
he power of shared mirth is invaluable to building your shared meaning and friendship - the quality which Dr. Gottman tells us is a predictor of the ultimate success or failure of your relationship. Apply this principle in your own life, and watch the connection between yourself and your partner deepen and thrive!

All for now,
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Monday, October 22, 2012

Know Your Bids!

Having spent the last few weeks writing about emotional bids on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we have realized that it may be useful if we explained what in the world they look like! As Dr. Gottman quips in The Relationship Cure, it would be a relief if we could create a world in which, “people made all their bids for connection in the form of standard written invitations… all expectations and feelings would be spelled out in vivid detail,” and there wouldn’t be any more “tension or guesswork.”  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), the human being is, in the words of Philip Roth, often a bundle of complex contradictory confusion - a "large-scale manufacturer of misunderstanding!"

Dr. Gottman says that bids can come into your life in an infinite number of ways, some of which are “easy to see and interpret, others that are nearly indecipherable.” Bids may be thoughts, feelings, observations, opinions, or invitations. Whether they be verbal or nonverbal, physical, sexual, intellectual, humorous, serious, in the form of a question or statement or comment, they qualify as a “bid” for connection.

In the interest of responding to your partner’s bids in healthy ways, and learning to create a healthy pattern of interactions in your relationship, we’d like to offer you a list of potential bidding types—see the following to recognize ways in which your partner may be bidding for connection

Easily recognizable verbal bids may sound like this:

  • Oy! Abby! do you want to go get drinks sometime this week?
  • Drew, could you ask your friends if they know a good auto-mechanic?
  • Jenny, could I borrow a pencil? 

According to Dr. Gottman,
nonverbal bids include:

  • Affectionate touching, such as a back-slap, a handshake, a pat, a squeeze, a kiss, a hug, or a back or shoulder rub.
  • Facial expressions, such as a smile, blowing a kiss, rolling your eyes, or sticking out your tongue.
  • Playful touching, such as tickling, bopping, wrestling, dancing, or a gentle bump or shove.
  • Affiliating gestures, such as opening a door, offering a place to sit, handing over a utensil, or pointing to a shared activity or interest.
  • Vocalizing, such as laughing, chuckling, grunting, sighing, or groaning in a way that invites interaction or interest.

We hope that these examples will help you to identify moments in which you can utilize the techniques Dr. Gottman teaches in responding to bids in your relationship! On Wednesday, look forward to learning about ways in which you can respond to bids with humor. Laughter is the most powerful tools at your disposal in making the connection you have with your partner more affectionate, playful, and fun – ultimately strengthening your bond and bringing romance into your daily interactions!

All for now,
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Friday, October 19, 2012

Midland Daily News On Gottman's Bidding Research

In today's posting, we’d like to share with you an article that recently came to our attention. It was posted a few days ago in the Midland Daily News, and discusses Dr. Gottman’s research on bidding that we have been focusing on in recent weeks! 

As you now know, Dr. Gottman has found that the ways in which you and your partner respond to each other’s emotional bids are the strongest predictors of your relationship’s eventual success or failure. The following article expands on Dr. Gottman’s research in this area, illuminating more of his research on handling difficult conversations before and after they occur:

What Makes Marriages Work, Fail?
By Rachael L. Vanderaa, MSW, LLMSW

According to Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Relationship Institute, there are common causes that lead to both success and failure in a marriage. Dr. Gottman says that all couples fight, even happy ones. Apparently, the most successful couples can say that they had a fight within the last seven days. The number of fights that a couple has is not as important as how they fought during the fights.

Picture two couples, one that argues daily, but never feels personally attacked during the fights and compare them to a couple that never fights, but when they do, they say very hurtful things to their partner. Which couple do you think would be most likely to last? If you thought the first, then you are wrong. It could actually be both couples. The most important factor to a fight is how couples fix their relationship afterward.

Dr. Gottman says that there are factors that help couples become masters’ of their relationship. One factor in successful marriages says that when wives raise issues about the house, family or even the relationship they should do it gently. He also says that issues between the couple need to be talked about before they simmer and get out of control. When they are together, couples need to be calm and supportive during hard and stressful times. Often, in successful marriages, husbands will change things about them at the wives’ request.

Next, spouses who respond to attempts to get attention by their partner, 86 percent of the time are more likely to succeed.

The last factor to becoming a master in marriage is probably the hardest part of all. The last factor says that when couples argue that they make AT LEAST 5 positive comments for EACH negative comment, during a fight. Dr. Gottman also talks about the factors that can help your marriage fail.

Think about the six factors that help a marriage succeed and think opposite and that will help your marriage fail. When wives raise issues about home, family or the relationship in a mean way, the couple is more likely to fail. When husbands react angry or upset and do not calm down, this is another factor of failure. When wives say things like “you always do that” or “you never help,” these words will lead to marriage failure. Next, when the husband gives the silent treatment and does not react to anything the wife says, this is a silent and fast way to end a marriage.

Last, when a spouse only responds to their partner’s cries for attention 33 percent of the time, they are more likely to fail. Do you and your spouse use any of the six factors for success or the five factors for failure? Think about it!

So what makes a marriage work or fail? What is making your marriage work? What is making it fail? If you are succeeding, keep up the good work! If your marriage is not doing well, think about what you are doing to help it fail and try new things. Try adding five positive sentences to an argument and see how it goes. So next time you argue with your spouse, consider how you are doing it, how you fix things afterward, and finally, what you can do to make your marriage a success!

This segment was adapted from Dr. John Gottman’s book, “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last.”

You can see the article on The Midland Daily News site here.

Look forward to our blog posts next week, in which we will share ways you can use Dr. Gottman’s decades of research to your advantage. Learn how you can bid in order to get your partner to respond more positively to your bids in the future!

Have a great weekend,
E. Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What "Turning Against" Really Means

In our post on Monday, we discussed Dr. Gottman’s findings on the deeply destructive nature of “turning against” your partner’s bids. "Turning against" or "away" describes the behaviors in your interactions between you and your partner that, upon accumulation, categorically spell disaster for your relationship. Today, we would like to part the storm clouds a bit by offering you findings from Dr. Gottman’s research about the true causes of much of the behavior we described on Monday - the real reasons for which your partner may "turn against" you, lash out unexpectedly, or say things that they don't really mean. We share this information with you in hopes that it will help you to learn the ways in which you can manage conflict constructively. We would like, in short, to offer you help in coping with the most trying interactions in your relationship. 

The first step in building the skills that Dr. Gottman teaches in his marital therapy is understanding – answering the question that may come up when such interactions unexpectedly throw themselves into your life – when your partner snaps at you out of nowhere. Dr. Gottman has discovered that there is an enormous difference between what you think your partner is saying when they "turn against" your bids and what their behavior’s cause usually is! Here is what Dr. Gottman has found "turning against" 
says and what it actually means.

"Turning Against" Says:
  • Your need for attention makes me angry.
  • I feel hostile towards you.
  • I don’t respect you.
  • I don’t value you or this relationship.
  • I want to hurt you.
  • I want to drive you away.
"Turning Against" Usually Means: In a direct quote from Dr. Gottman himself, “Unlike 'turning away' responses, 'turning against' has a bite to it. It’s hard to hear such responses without thinking, ‘That’s mean’ or ‘That was uncalled for.’ Still, I doubt that most people who turn against their loved ones really intend to cause as much harm to their relationships as they do in these exchanges. Rather, they may simply have developed a personal style of relating that’s characteristically crabby or irritable.” Dr. Gottman’s research has revealed that such prickliness is often “the result of many factors, such as having too many demands on your time, not having enough peace of mind, or the lack of a satisfying purpose or direction for your life. Often it’s a spillover of self-criticism that has its origins in the distant past. The problem may also be biologically based irritability that is chemically related to depression.”

Whatever the source may be of your partner’s choice to "turn against" your bids for attention, affection, or support, it still hurts. Sometimes, it hurts a LOT. The build up of ignored bids can end up causing long-term problems in relationships. When your partner habitually responds to you by "turning against" your bids for connection, you feel that you can’t ask them for support and the two of you may drift apart entirely, because it feels impossible to sustain your relationship. Again, we have to stress: You are not alone!
 Hopefully understanding that the underlying causes for your partner’s behavior are rarely as malicious as they may feel, that what they say and what they mean are usually oceans apart, can help you to take these sudden attacks less personally. 

Of course, these words offer sparse comfort on their own – to understand is only the first step in the journey towards moving away from dangerous patterns of interaction. But it is a necessary first step. We will take you through the next steps (applying this new knowledge) in the next few weeks on The Gottman Relationship Blog. For more details, make sure to find a copy of Dr. Gottman’s bestselling books in a bookstore near you: The Relationship CureSeven Principles of Making Marriage Work, and of course, his new book, What Makes Love Last!

All for now,
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Monday, October 15, 2012

Turning Against Bids: The Ultimate Relationship Killer

Because we feel that it is important to “know thine enemies," in today’s blog post we will share Dr. Gottman's greatest relationship killers that he has discovered in his 40+ years of research. These venoms, with which you can poison your relationship, can all be characterized as ways of "turning against" each other's bids for emotional connection. We do this in the hope that the examples below will allow you to recognize these behaviors in your interactions with your partner, allowing you to catch and learn to reverse these toxic patterns of behavior in order to stop them from causing serious damage to your relationship. 

For the sake of simplicity, we will make the bid in each of these descriptions the same - a totally harmless request for a helping hand.  Note: the bid we use as an example is a small request – the bigger the request, the more destructive the respondent’s turning against can be!

Contemptuous Responses
The respondent makes hurtful disrespecting comments aimed at the person bidding for connection. Such put-downs are often delivered with an air of superiority, as if the speaker wants to put some distance between him/herself and the bidder, and intentional insults will do the trick:

Zoe: “Could you help me with the dishes?”
Mark: “Is that all you can ever say to me?”

Belligerent Responses
The respondent is provocative or combative. You get the sense that the speaker is looking for a fight. He or she would argue with whatever the bidder says, regardless of content. Belligerent responses often involve unfair teasing or a dare:

Zoey: “Could you help me with the dishes?”
Mark: “What’ll you do if I say no? Yell at me again and turn up that stupid music?!”

Contradictory Responses
The respondent seems intent on starting a debate or an argument. This is less hostile than a belligerent response, but it still blocks the bidder’s attempt to connect:

Zoey: “Could you help me with the dishes?”
Mark: “Why the dishes? Why can’t I just take out the garbage like I always do?”

Domineering Responses
The respondent attempts to control the other person. The respondent’s goal is to get the bidder to withdraw, retreat, or submit. You often hear a parental message in these responses, whether the speaker is a parental figure or not:

Zoey: “Could you help me with the dishes?”
Mark: “Don’t be ridiculous! You can do them all by yourself without me holding your hand!”

Critical Responses
The respondent makes broad-based attacks on a bidder’s character. They’re different from a complaint, which focuses on a particular event or specific behavior. When people are being critical, they frequently speak in global terms, saying things like “you always…” and “you never…” Often you’ll hear statements of blame or betrayal in these responses:

Zoey: “Could you help me with the dishes?”
Mark: “You’re so lazy and self-centered, I’ve got to do real work right now!”

Defensive Responses
The respondent creates a sense of separation by allowing the speaker to relinquish responsibility for matters at hand. If the bidder is upset about something, the respondent may act like an innocent victim of misplaced blame:

Zoey: “Could you help me with the dishes?”
Mark: “Don’t look at me, I’m tired. You’re the one who made the kitchen a mess anyway.”

These examples may remind you of experiences you’ve recently had in your relationship, the emotional response ranging from a simple frustration to one that is deeply hurtful. You are by no stretch of the imagination alone – we all experience these kinds of responses all the time! But in our most intimate relationships, the build up of such responses creates enormous and inevitable rifts. The more of these responses you experience, the more likely they are to destroy your relationship entirely.  

Learn to recognize and avoid what Dr. Gottman refers to as "turning against" or "away" from each other’s bids. Choosing to "turn towards" these bids for emotional connection will naturally bring you closer to each other, building strong bonds of love, friendship, and support in your relationship. In our post on Wednesday, look forward to a posting that dives deeper into understanding bids and explains that what you hear from your partner may not be what is intended.

All for now,
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Mechanics Of Bidding: Messages You Don't Even Know You're Sending

We here at The Gottman Relationship Blog have been struck by the outpouring of interest in our recent postings on bidding. In the resulting "Ah hah! moment," we have decided to focus on this topic in more depth! Look forward to our future blog posts!

In the interest of sharing Dr. Gottman’s research on the mechanics of bidding, before we turn towards Turning Against bids
(pun unintentional - apologies for any discomfort incurred), we would like to explain Dr. Gottman’s conclusions on the posts we shared with you earlier this week. His years of research reveal something counter-intuitive: the smallest exchanges between you and your partner (most of which seem totally irrelevant to your relationship) have the power to ultimately make or break it. His words speak to the importance of giving close attention to the ways in which you and your partner interpret each other’s responses to bids, so that you may learn exactly how to create positive change in your own relationship.

The following are Dr. Gottman’s descriptions of the messages you and your partner send each other when you turn away from each other’s bids, whether this happens consciously or unconsciously. Remember, though it may seem otherwise at times, none of us are mind readers!
 Keep in mind that bids occur in our relationships constantly. Bids range from kisses on the cheek to asking to "pass the salt" to "do you want to go see a movie?" to requests to buy a house that one of you really likes. 

What Turning Away Tells Your Partner:

  • I don’t care about your bid.
  • I want to avoid your bid.
  • I’m not interested in your interests.
  • I’ve got more important things on my mind.
  • I’m too busy to pay attention to your bid.
  • Your bid is not worth my time.
  • I want to be more independent than you want me to be.

Ring true?! All of us have been there. In the words of science, this “stinks.” This “really, really, really stinks.”

What Turning Towards Tells Your Partner:

  • I hear you.
  • I’m interested in you.
  • I understand you (or I want to understand you).
  • I’m on your side.
  • I’d love to help you (whether or not I can).
  • I’d love to be with you (whether or not I can).
  • I accept you (even if I don’t accept all of your behaviors).

We all know how this feels. Academics say that this feels “really, really good.”

Keep these messages in mind as you interact with your partner this weekend and, as always, into the future! Though keeping all of this in mind is a daunting task given the plethora of other things that you have to keep in mind (believe us, we understand!), forming these habits can make critical changes in your relationship. As you begin to engage with your partner in healthy styles of communication, the two of you may be surprised to see what a difference the smallest exchanges can make. Because of the importance of this subject, we will expand on it further next week, revealing the results of Dr. Gottman’s research on bidding in greater depth!

Have a great weekend!
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Deeper Look Into Turning Away From Your Partner

As promised in Monday’s blog post, today we are going to share with you some examples of "turning away" from bids for attention. We hope that our in-depth explanation of “turning away” will allow you to recognize this behavior in interactions you have with your partner. Though individual instances of "turning away" from your partner's bids may not seem to make much of an impact on your emotional connection, the build up of these moments can incur enormous damage to your relationship. Dr. Gottman warns that his research has led him to the following conclusion:

"Even if the bidder doesn't act hurt of angry at the moment his or her bid is rejected, there seems to be some internal mechanism that keeps score... the dismissed bidder typically gets fed up... [and] starts complaining to and criticizing the person who turns away, leading to a pattern of attack and defend." 

The ultimate purpose of today’s post is to allow the two of you to strengthen your bond by applying Dr. Gottman’s methods to avoid spiraling into an awful pattern that may be an enormous threat to your relationship. By showing you the way in which bids may be negatively responded to, we will explain how you can practice “turn towards” each other’s bids instead.

Dr. Gottman’s definitions for the following behaviors are given below, as well as examples to clarify the ways in which these "turning away" behaviors may be expressed in your relationship. As in Monday’s post, for the sake of this exercise we are going to keep the bid the same in each scenario:

Preoccupied responses

The respondent making a preoccupied response is often involved in some kind of activity, such as reading a book, making a meal, or watching TV:

Jen: “Look at that beautiful sunset!”
David: (On the computer, not turning away from the screen) “Uh-huh”

Disregarding Responses

The respondent totally ignores the bid or focuses on insignificant details of the bid:

Will: “Look at that beautiful sunset!”
Frankie: (Silence)

Interrupting Responses

The respondent introduces unrelated matters or counterbids:

Jackie: “Look at that beautiful -”
Paul: “Did you ever get that letter from the bank?”

Forming the habit of noticing and preemptively checking any urges you may feel to respond in ways that “turn away” from your partner can make an enormous difference in your relationship, reducing stress and building an atmosphere of mutual trust. Of course, turning away from bids is often done unconsciously. With the number of things we have to manage on a daily basis, our focus can’t constantly be on applying Dr. Gottman’s advice our interactions with our partners! However, w
e all know how frustrating it feels to make a bid and have it ignored, regardless of whether it be ignored mostly, partially, or entirely.

The good news is that as you begin to identify these behaviors and consciously practice “turning towards” your partner, it will become more effortless over time. We hope that positive patterns of interaction in your relationship will soon become second nature to you, and allow you and your partner to grow closer together!

All for now,
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Deeper Look Into Turning Towards Your Partner

On the Gottman Relationship Blog, many of our postings have been related to Dr. Gottman’s methods for “turning towards” and “turning away” from bids for attention from your partner. If you’ve attempted to apply his research-based findings to your own relationship and found that the task of integrating science into reality is really, really difficult, today's posting is for you! You may feel that, despite the clear benefits of using The Gottman Method, the degree of stress that you undergo in your relationship makes our method almost impossible to apply with your own partner. This week, we want to show you specific examples for ways to build trust in stressful times, so that you may feel far more confident and empowered in integrating The Gottman Method into your own life.

Today, we are going to give you examples to better clarify different types of “turning towards,” and Wednesday you can look forward to a deeper look into different types of “turning away” so that you can know what to look for in specific interactions that they two of you have… and how to interpret and change your own behavior, bringing the two of you closer together!

Dr. Gottman’s definitions for the following behaviors are given below, as well as examples to clarify the ways in which they may be expressed. For the sake of this exercise, we are going to keep the bid (one which you've likely made on many occasions) the same in each scenario:

Nearly Passive Responses
These are one or two word comments or mild shifts in behavior with no verbal response – your partner may not stop what they are doing, but you know that you’ve been heard, e.g.

Sam: “Do you want to go out tonight?”
Mia: [C
ontinuing to get the kids ready for school] “Mmmm”

Low Energy Responses:
These involve a few words or a question to clarify a bid, e.g.

Jamal: “Do you want to go out tonight?”
Ava: “Sounds fine. Where?”

Attentive Responses:
These involve opinions, thoughts, and feelings, e.g.

Gabrielle: “Do you want to go out tonight?”
Liam: “That sounds great. You like that Thai place down the street?”

High Energy Responses:
These involve full attention with good eye contact. High energy responses may be enthusiastic, include humor or affection, and/or sincere empathy, e.g.

Rosie: “Do you want to go out tonight?”
Wiley: “Hooray! Oh, hold on a sec while I cancel my date with the couch…”

In the next few days, try to notice the ways in which you and your partner respond to such bids for attention, empathy, or connection in your interactions. This first step (becoming attuned to the ways in which the two of you interact) will be vital to making the kinds of change you feel are necessary in your relationship: reducing stress, creating an atmosphere of trust, being able to support each other, expressing your mutual love without getting lost in miscommunication.

Try to engage with your partner with the latter two response types: Attentive and High Energy. Though daily life can obviously be tiring, you may find yourself too overwhelmed to respond with High Energy responses all the time: let them be your ultimate goal, and know that practicing the latter two response types will become easier over time. As you build healthy patterns of communication with your partner, you are likely to evince similar effort on their part, helping each other to build mindfulness in emotional moments as well as in everyday conversation! As always, we'd like to remind you that this exercise is not meant to change your life in a week. Practice it over time, and see how much easier it becomes to empower yourself and integrate The Gottman Method into your own relationship!

All for now,
Ellie Lisitsa
TGI Staff

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gottman Method Training: Level 3 and Certification

After a discussion of Level 1 Training on Monday and Level 2 Training on Wednesday, today we turn our attention to Level 3 Training and Certification. Participants in the Level 3 Practicum Training, together with Drs. Julie and John Gottman, examine actual videotaped cases of couples brought in by workshop colleagues. The Gottmans use these videotaped cases as teaching and learning tools to help deepen understanding of when and how to use various Gottman Method approaches and interventions, and how to break destructive patterns and replace them with meaningful interactions. 

During this workshop, Drs. John and Julie Gottman lead discussions, demonstrate techniques and provide guidance in developing a road map for clinical decisions. Participants have the opportunity to practice and refine their use of Gottman Couples Therapy through participation in role-plays, demonstrations and discussions in a small group setting, and receive personalized guidance and supportive coaching from the Gottmans and Senior Certified Gottman Therapists.

After each role-play session, Dr. Julie Gottman will lead discussions that include case consultations and nuanced details of the techniques previously demonstrated and provides guidance in developing a roadmap for clinical decisions. 

In order to attend a Level 3 Training, you must have:
  • Master’s or doctoral degree OR current enrollment in a graduate program within a mental health-related field 
  • Completed Level 1 Live Training or DVD Home study
  • Completed Level 2 Live Training or DVD Home study 
  • Therapy experience highly recommended, but not required 

At the end of this workshop participants will understand how to: 
  • Effectively use the Oral History Interview during a couple’s assessment and understand its implications 
  • Clearly explain to a couple their strengths and challenges in terms of the “Sound Relationship House" 
  • Help partners identify their own “Four Horsemen” and understand the antidotes 
  • Select and utilize appropriate tools to help a couple deepen their “Friendship System” 
  • Clarify a couple’s conflicts in terms of solvable, perpetual, and grid-locked problems 
  • Use the “Dreams Within Conflict” technique to help a couple feel hopeful and to achieve break-through with their perpetual conflict 
  • Successfully intervene when one or both partners are flooding 
  • Help a couple reach solutions using the Compromise Ovals intervention 
  • Sensitively intervene when co-morbidities are present 

Participants are asked to bring a short, ten minute or so, video segment (on DVD or USB thumb drive) of difficult and challenging couples to the Level 3 workshop. Drs. John and Julie Gottman will describe how they would treat these couples and then participants from the audience will volunteer to role play these couples with Drs. John and Julie Gottman demonstrating using a variety of interventions with these couples. Participants will then have the opportunity to practice using these interventions in a supportive small group setting with other participants’ role playing the couples from the videos. 

So, you’ve completed Level 3 Training. Now what? The Certification Track is for clinicians who intend to become Certified Gottman Therapists. To become a Certified Gottman Therapist, you must complete the following: 
  • Levels 1, 2, and 3 of Gottman Method Clinical Training 
  • Consultation (more information below) 
  • 100 hours (documented) of Gottman Method couples’ therapy 
  • Final video review (more information below) 

Acceptance into the certification track will begin the consultation process that leads toward certification. We strongly encourage you to enter the certification track right after completing Level 3, but you mustbegin consultation within 2 years of completing Level 3 training. You will have 2 years from entering the certification track to submit your videos for final review. Clinicians in the Certification Track will be matched individually or in small groups with a Gottman Consultant. 

Clinicians must meet the following criteria in order to apply to the Certification Track: 
  • Master’s or doctoral degree in a mental health-related field 
  • Licensure, certification in a mental health-related field (in the state or province in which you practice) or equivalent.
  • 1,000 hours post-degree therapy experience 
  • Completed Level 1 Live Training or DVD Home study 
  • Completed Level 2 Live Training or DVD Home study 
  • Completed Level 3 Live Training 

In addition to meeting the pre-requisites and having strong core therapeutic skills, the most successful candidates typically have the following: 
  • Experience working within diverse and/or international environments that includes work with minority populations 
  • Experience working with adult populations in specialty areas that includes the following: domestic violence, substance abuse and recovery, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorders and affective disorders 
  • Strong clinical experience providing individual therapy 
  • An adequate number of couples in one’s practice to meaningfully integrate the Gottman Method into ongoing work with couples 

Consultation usually takes place over the phone. A minimum of eight (8) sessions of individual consultation or twelve (12) sessions of group consultation will be needed to complete certification requirements, but the Consultant may determine that more consultation is necessary in order for a consultee to become certified. Certification candidates will pay their Consultant directly. There are no continuing education credits available for consultation

Your consultant will help you follow couples through the entire assessment and treatment process including selecting and implementing appropriate treatment interventions. This will involve guidance in performing core Gottman Method interventions for building friendship and regulating conflict including the Four Horsemen, Dreams Within Conflict, Compromise, Flooding and many others as dictated by clients’ unique needs and co-morbidities. The consultant will provide feedback on tapes of your interventions with clients in a supportive and encouraging manner. We recommend that you begin videotaping early in the process and expect that you will submit a minimum of three to six segments for feedback prior to certification review.

The final step in qualifying for certification involves submitting and receiving approval on four specified videotaped segments of your clinical work. The purpose of submitting these tapes is for you to demonstrate your knowledge, appropriate usage, and comfort with four core Gottman methods. Because The Gottman Institute wishes to certify clinicians who can represent the Gottman Method sensitively and appropriately, trained Video Reviewers who are Senior Certified Gottman Therapists and Consultants will review these tapes to assess your readiness for certification. At the time of your review, you will be given feedback on your work from your consultant, and you will be accepted for certification or requested to take some action to demonstrate proficiency in an aspect that may need strengthening. If you are accepted, you will receive an oral summary of your review and a Certificate indicating that you’ve achieved designation as a Certified Gottman Therapist. (Please note: you will learn more about the consultation options at the Level 3 workshop. If you have questions about this process before attending the Level 3 Workshop, please do not hesitiate to ask).

Membership in the new Gottman Referral Network (GRN) is now open to therapists who have completed Level 2 or Level 3, as well as Certified Gottman Therapists. Our Referral Network is the primary resource for couples worldwide who are seeking a Certified Gottman Therapist. Over the years, our original group of 16 Certified Gottman Therapists has expanded and now includes 160 therapists who contribute their talents, skills and experience to our mission of helping couples, families and children.

In addition to a listing in the Provider Directory, Referral Network members have access to a number of professional development opportunities and receive numerous benefits and discounts. To join the Gottman Referral Network, contact .

Have a great weekend,
M. Fulwiler
TGI Staff