The Marriage Clinic
A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy
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In prospective, long-term research with over 700 couples, Gottman has discovered certain factors that distinguish happy, stable couples from both unstable, ultimately divorcing couples and stable but unhappy couples. These findings, which are explained here in understandable, nontechnical language, form the basis of his Sound Marital House theory of marriage, which guides the new therapy. This therapy has two goals: changing the marital friendship and teaching couples to regulate conflict.
Despite the high aims of much marital therapy, Gottman found that most marital conflicts involve fundamentally unresolvable relationship issues called "perpetual problems." He shows how therapists can help spouses move from gridlock to dialogue on these issues. Solvable problems can be resolved more easily when the couple has a strong marital friendship. He gives therapists the tools to teach spouses five fundamental skills to develop and strengthen their friendship: softened start-up, accepting influence, repair and de-escalation, compromise, and physiological soothing.
Gottman compares his clinic to a restaurant, where clients are offered a menu of treatment formats, from psychoeducation for specific issues to extended therapy to repair a badly damaged marital friendship. Therapists, too, can choose among the questionnaires and strategies for those that fit the needs of particular couples. Whatever their choice, they will find that their practice is greatly enriched by the scientifically-based offerings of The Marriage Clinic.