Couples & Marriage

Exploring Relationship Therapy: A Comparison of Gottman Couples Therapy and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

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When your close relationships are struggling, everything else in life feels harder. At The Family Therapy Clinic we want to help you heal, find peace in your life, and remember that you are not alone.

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Navigating the complexities of romantic relationships often requires intentional effort and support. Relationship therapy, also known as couples therapy, can be a valuable resource for couples seeking to strengthen their bond, improve communication, and resolve conflicts effectively. In this blog post, we’ll explore two prominent approaches to couples therapy: Gottman Couples Therapy and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). We’ll delve into their key principles, techniques, and effectiveness in promoting healthy relationships.

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Gottman Couples Therapy:

Developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Gottman Therapy is grounded in extensive research on relationship dynamics and factors contributing to marital success or distress. This approach emphasizes the importance of building emotional connections, enhancing communication skills, and managing conflicts constructively. Key principles of Gottman Therapy include:

  1. The “Sound Relationship House”: Based on the metaphor of a house, this model outlines the essential components of a healthy relationship, including trust, intimacy, friendship, and shared goals.
  2. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Identified as criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, these negative communication patterns are addressed to promote healthier interactions.
  3. Emotion Coaching: Encouraging partners to express and validate emotions, fostering empathy, and understanding to strengthen emotional connection and intimacy.

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT):

Developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is rooted in attachment theory. It focuses on creating secure emotional bonds between partners. EFT aims to help couples identify and address underlying emotions, needs, and attachment patterns that drive relationship dynamics. Key principles of EFT include:

  1. Attachment and Emotional Responsiveness: Emphasizing the importance of emotional responsiveness and attunement in creating a secure attachment bond between partners.
  2. De-escalation of Negative Cycles: Identifying and interrupting negative interaction patterns or cycles that contribute to emotional disconnection and conflict.
  3. Restructuring Interactions: Helping couples develop new ways of relating to each other, fostering vulnerability, empathy, and deeper emotional intimacy.

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Both Gottman and EFT share the goal of improving relationship satisfaction and promoting long-term relational health. However, they differ in their approaches and techniques:

  • Gottman Couples Therapy is highly structured and utilizes assessment tools, such as the Gottman Method Couples Therapy Assessment, to identify specific areas of strength and challenge in the relationship.
  • Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy focuses on creating a safe therapeutic environment where couples can explore underlying emotions, attachment needs, and relational patterns.


Research has shown both approaches to be effective in helping couples improve relationship satisfaction, communication, and conflict-resolution skills. Each approach may be more suitable for couples based on their unique needs, preferences, and goals for therapy. Gottman therapy is a skills-based treatment, while Emotionally Focused Therapy is process-based and works on creating safe attachments through vulnerability. EFT has been extensively researched and has demonstrated high effectiveness in helping couples improve their relationships, strengthen emotional bonds, and achieve greater satisfaction and fulfillment in their partnership. It is widely recognized as an evidence-based approach with significant empirical support for its positive impact on couples’ well-being.

Gottman and EFT are valuable therapeutic approaches that offer couples meaningful tools and insights to strengthen their relationships.

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Whether focusing on building friendship and trust (Gottman) or fostering emotional connection and attachment (EFT), both approaches emphasize the importance of creating secure, supportive, and fulfilling partnerships.

Begin Couples Therapy in American Fork, UT

Couples considering therapy can explore these approaches with trained therapists to find the best fit for their relationship journey. Our team of caring therapists would be happy to offer the support you deserve in creating a deeper connection with your partner. Start your therapy journey with the Family Therapy Clinic by following these simple steps:

  1. Schedule a consultation.
  2. Learn more about how a couples therapist can help.
  3. Start creating stronger bonds!

Other Services Offered with The Family Therapy Clinic in Utah:

At The Family Therapy Clinic, we provide comprehensive mental health services designed to address your unique needs. We are happy to offer couples therapy, but this isn’t the only service we offer. Our team of specialized therapists is happy to offer therapy for teens facing anxiety and depressionadult anxiety, and OCD therapy, ensuring a holistic approach to mental wellness across different life stages. We also offer support post-divorce and with faith deconstruction. Visit our blog for more helpful info!

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