Healing Paths, Inc. is one of the leading clinics certified and trained in the Gottman Method here in Utah. One of the most famous, respected, and successful couples counseling systems in the world, this modality, developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman and the Gottman Institute is the result of more than forty years of research and clinical work.

Two Dominant Modalities for Treating Couples in Therapy

The Gottman Method is one of two dominant methodologies in marriage and relationship counseling. The other is EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), created by Sue Johnson, which we also train our couples counselors to use our Utah clinic.

Many therapists choose one of these two therapy options to focus their training and offer to their clients. We believe these two theories work well together; couples benefit from both theories which is why our clinic offers both EFT and the Gottman Method as part of our therapy solutions to our couples clients.

Why We Offer Two Modalities when Treating Couples

Because Healing Paths specializes in betrayal trauma, helping couples work out the difficulties associated with sex addiction, it can be a long and sometimes painful journey for many of the families we help. We feel all of our therapists need training in both EFT and the Gottman Method.

If you are struggling with a disclosure of addiction or chronic infidelity, you’ll need help from a therapy team with every available tool. The combined knowledge of both EFT and the Gottman Method will be necessary. Even if you feel like your problems aren’t as serious, your marriage is one of the most significant personal investments you’ve made in your life. If you’re struggling as a couple, find the highest trained couples counseling clinics available in Utah. Start now.

Gentle Startup

One of the defining characteristics of the Gottman Method is known as the Gentle Startup. When couples manage a difficult conversation with one another, as every partnership must, learning the skill of starting the discussion is critical. Letting your partner know in a kind way you’d like to talk with them about something emotionally painful gives the conversation as slow and calm a takeoff as possible. Respecting your partner’s freedom around beginning the discussion with you when they are comfortable and ready is critical.

Define your Feelings

First, when you are starting this emotionally painful conversation, define the issue in terms of your feelings. Do not blame your companion. You have the right to feel any way you feel. Do not criticize the other person’s actions or behavior.

Don’t Use Absolutes

Do not describe the circumstances in absolutes:

“You always ____.”


“You never_____.”

Communicate your Feelings and Needs

During the Gentle Startup, describe how a specific situation made you feel a certain way:

“At the party, I felt left out of the conversation, which made me feel insecure.”

When you are communicating, tell your partner what your emotional need is:

“At parties, it would help me if you included me as much as you can in the conversation. I will feel more confident.”

We Teach Couples Communication Techniques

Learning communication in marriage is an essential skillset we teach at our Utah clinic. We do this in our counseling sessions with individual clients, marriage therapy, group counseling, and special workshops for coaching in relational skills.

The Sound Relationship House

Another critical component of the Gottman Method is called the Sound Relationship House. It’s a model of trusting and successful marriages.

In the early days of your romantic relationship, you trusted your partner because your companion has not let you down. Over time, our sense of trust becomes tested and there will likely be times when your spouse will make a mistake. You will question whether you trust them. Through therapy, a couple can learn what’s called ATTUNE, a method for repairing trust. This is an acronym for helping you remember the steps.

The Steps of ATTUNE

  • Awareness
  • Turning Towards
  • Tolerance
  • Understanding
  • Non-defensive responding
  • Empathy

Learn More about ATTUNE and Building Trust in your Marriage

Committed couples in Utah develop the skills of repairing trust by developing the Sound Relationship House. For more about this subject of ATTUNE and the Sound Relationship House, see our blog post transcript, which outlines the subject.

The Four Horsemen

One aspect the Gottman institute is most well-known for is the Four Horsemen. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this concept in his bestselling book, Blink. He tells the story of how the Gottmans’ can predict divorce with startling accuracy. No one can predict the future. However, knowing there is science, which can foresee whether you and your partner are likely to be married in a few years is both scary and useful and made this a compelling section of Gladwell’s book.

When we evaluate a marriage or a committed relationship and decide whether it is moving in the right direction, there are some key indicators of divorce. This can seem like doomsaying. The purpose of this research should be: How do we save relationships?

These predictors aren’t “The future.” They are needles on a compass, telling members of that couple and a trained marriage counselor the relationship’s trajectory. It is useful information when treated with honesty. We aren’t merely trying to predict inevitable divorces without a positive intention of helping a relationship or an individual’s mental health.

Summary of the Four Horsemen

These are the Four Horsemen the Gottman team identified:

  1. Criticism
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Contempt
  4. Stonewalling

Of the Four Horsemen, the strongest predictor is contempt. Thinking you are better than your spouse is a relationship killer.

If You See the Four Horsemen in Relationship

If you see these indicators in your marriage, and you live locally here in Utah, start working with a therapist trained in the Gottman Method, someone who can help you start on a path towards a more intimate relationship. Both couples therapy and individual counseling are needed. Our clinic offers both solutions.

Having Intimate Conversations

Every relationship has conflict. Preventing difficulties and disagreements isn’t the goal of a successful relationship. The Gottman Method research discovered how to repair relationships after disputes using intimate conversations. These clinical researchers outlined the essential skills needed for having these discussions. Couples must learn the steps of restoring trust after there are hurt feelings.

There is one rule, which precedes these skills—When having an intimate conversation, the couple must enter the talk trying to understand one another, rather than attempting to solve the problem.

Skills for Repairing the Relationship

These are the three skills you are developing when having intimate relationship conversations:

  1. Put your feelings into words
  2. Ask open-ended questions
  3. Express empathy

Improve your Conversation Skills through Utah Counseling

Learning these skills is easier said than done. Couples in conflict are usually struggling to communicate. We see people in Utah struggling with intimacy disorders. Many have not developed the relational skills needed for marriage, so teaching these skills is a core priority in our clinical practice.

If your marriage is struggling, you will likely need coaching by a professional to develop these skills. Find help today by contacting a therapist here in Utah who has trained in the Gottman Method.

Conclusion: Finding Solutions Here in Utah through Continued 

Couples in crisis worry about being blamed. There can be betrayal trauma and tender feelings involved. It can feel overwhelming when you dive into the complex struggles of marriage. Partners will say, “This feels like it’s too much!” We aren’t afraid of messy situations at Healing Paths. Your partner may not know how to handle those painful emotions, but we do.

This Is Bigger than You

The next time you and your partner fight, before you start assigning blame, begin by aiming for understanding one another. Realize the problems the two of you are facing are bigger than the both of you. These difficulties likely started before your marriage, before you were born.

Our team of talented Utah-area therapists are all emotional trauma experts. They can help you begin the process of learning more about yourselves, understand your relationship, and heal your mental health.

Find Help Near You Right Away

If you and your partner are struggling to repair your relationship, if you see some of the indicators of divorce in your marriage, you need help immediately. Working with a competent therapy team here in Utah is essential. There may be enough time for repairing your relationship with the help of counselors trained in the Gottman Method.

We have two therapy offices—one in Bountiful, Utah, and one in downtown Salt Lake City, with professionals trained in cutting-edge techniques for helping you repair your relationship conflicts.