Gottman Therapy

In 1986 John Gottman and his colleague Robert Levenson set up a lab in the grounds of the University of Seattle. This lab was quickly dubbed ‘The Love Lab’. With their research team, they hooked up each couple to electrodes and asked them to talk about their relationship, including a major conflict they had together. The electrodes measured heart rate, blood flow and sweat glands – key physiology markers. From this physiology data, the researchers were able to divide the couples into Masters and Disasters of relationship.

6 years later the researchers did a follow up study on all the couples. The Masters were still happily together, whereas the Disasters had either divorced or were unhappy in their relationship. One of the key differences was physiology. When talking about an ongoing problem they had together, the Disasters looked calm on the outside, but their physiology data showed they were in fight or flight mode – fast blood flow, increased heart rates and active sweat glands. Over years of research with thousands of couples, Gottman and colleagues found that the more active the physiology in the Love Lab a couple showed, the quicker their relationship deteriorated over time.

The Masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and safe with each other, their behaviour looked warm and affectionate even when they were arguing. The Masters weren’t born with any special gift, they had instead created and maintained an atmosphere of emotional trust and intimacy together. Emotionally comfortable meant physiologically comfortable. We could say they were Masters of Emotional Safety.

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Certified Gottman Therapist Braddon Canberra

Our speech pathology and psychology clinic is located in Braddon, ACT, in Canberra’s CBD. Call us on 5117 4890 or email to get in touch.

In Positive Health, Canberra. Nel MacBean Speech Pathologist Canberra. Campbell MacBean Psychologist Canberra.