Gottman Couples Therapy

By Deborah Duell-Stephens, LMFT

T​he Gottman Method of for couple’s work is an empirically proven process that is the result of research that began in the 1970’s by psychologist, Dr. John Gottman, which focused on what makes marriages succeed or fail. In studying how couples argued, Dr’s John & Julie Gottman fashioned a method for therapy that accentuates a brass-tacks approach to improving clients’ relationships.

One interesting finding in the research is that it was determined that focusing on resolution is often misguided. Their research revealed that 69% of conflict is perpetual. This is to say that it has no resolution! It is based on personalities and individual needs. Couples can debate these perpetual conflicts trying to convince each other to change, but this simply leads to a state of gridlock.

The solution is that therapy needs to focus on helping couples learn to manage these conflicts as a team rather than resolve them.

During the process of therapy, couples will be guided through learning and utilizing specifics techniques with a goal of deepening friendship and intimacy within their relationship. The doctors’ years of research led to an understanding of what relationship skills are needed to be built in order to create happiness. In happy, long-lasting relationships conflict resolution is brought forward in a direct and gentle manner. Couples learn to soften their approach to bringing up issues, accepting influence from one another, increasing their communication skills, and repair negative interactions while descaling conflict, which then leads to compromise.

So, what is different about Gottman couples therapy?

This effective couple’s therapy focuses on emotions; the emotions that bring couples into therapy. Further focus is on dysfunctional negative interaction patterns, emotional repair, making conflict discussions more functional, as well as building
trust, bonding, love, intimacy, and friendship. You might be thinking this all sounds great, but you have never been one for therapy.

Believe it or not, I completely understand, and I am here to help. If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship and would like help in finding new solutions, I am available and can be reached by contacting my office at or calling (530) 809-1702 or (530) 282-5418.

Deborah Duell-Stephens is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #97103

Deborah’s practice is fully online as she enjoys a peaceful life in the Sacramento area.  She has been providing couples therapy for most of her career and not only has training working with Gottman couples therapy, but has also received training in EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy).  She brings wisdom and experience with her to her sessions to help couples meet their relationship goals and heal pain together.  A big barrier to services for many couples is taking time off work and commuting to the therapy office.  Deborah has solved that obstacle by offering online sessions where the individuals can be in different locations while still working toward healing and repairing their relationship.