Drs John and Julie Gottman, world-renowned couples therapists and researchers, founded the Gottman Institute, which has pioneered a number of highly effective methods for couples to build healthier relationships. At Strategic Psychology in Canberra, our psychologists utilise evidence-based couples counselling strategies, such as those pioneered by the Gottman Institute. The following activities are taken from the Gottman Method and are fundamental to the approach we use in couples counselling.

If you feel that your relationship is lacking a number of these, you and your partner may benefit from attending couples counselling.

1. Building love maps

Each partner needs to understand the other partner’s thinking style, personal history, fears, concerns, future hopes and desires.

2. Sharing affection and admiration

It is important for couples to regularly demonstrate fondness and respect to each other through explicitly expressing appreciation for a partner’s positive qualities and actions. This involves a level of awareness and intentional praise. Often, people only point out the negative aspects of their partner so they can be rectified and neglect to mention what they appreciate about him or her.

3. Turning towards each other during difficult times

When facing difficulties, whether small or large, it is important that couples turn towards each other for support. This involves stating needs, being aware when their partner is attempting to connect and assist, and being receptive to this by responding in some way.

4. Taking a positive perspective

Couples need to assist each other with positive problem solving skills when faced with difficulties.

5. Conflict management

Because conflict is a natural and functional part of relationship, complete elimination of conflict is unrealistic and unhelpful. Conflict management is the practice of appreciating what is underlying a conflict in terms of different values and expectations, solving what is solvable and finding out a way of compromising where perpetual problems are concerned.

6. Acknowledging and working towards realising dreams

Couples should aim for creating an environment that encourages each partner to talk openly about his or her hopes, values and aspirations.

7. Creating shared meaning

In order to facilitate a shared understanding of the past, present and future of your relationship, it can be helpful to discuss and create shared visions, narratives and metaphors about your relationship.

8. Trusting each other

Trust occurs when a person knows that his or her partner works to maximise their best interests and wellbeing, not just their own. It is important for each partner to provide regular evidence that this is true through gestures that involve placing the partner’s needs and desire above their own.

9. Being committed to each other

This involves believing (and behaving in such a way) that your lifelong journey and your future with your partner are intertwined, for better or worse. It is important to notice and develop your partner’s positive qualities and highlight why you have chosen them to partner you on your journey.

At Strategic Psychology in Canberra, we base our couples counselling strategies on empirically based, tried and tested, methods. We are passionate about assisting couples in the Canberra region to address these common challenges and others that may arise in the course of their relationship.

Our sessions can be conducted individually, together with your partner, or through a mixture of individual and couple sessions. Our priority is to ensure that both partners are able to find the support needed in order to re-establish a loving, healthy relationship.

If your partner is not ready or willing to seek help, you can still access individual assistance. This may help you to develop tools and strategies to help stimulate changes, improve your communication and better manage conflict in your relationship. If your partner later decides they would like to be involved, they are able to join with you at any time to continue working together towards improving the relationship and addressing issues that arise.

Finding assistance

If you live in the Canberra region and feel that you are experiencing relationship difficulties, you can contact Strategic Psychology to arrange to see a psychologist. We can assist you in reconnecting with your partner and learning strategies to strengthen your relationship.

No referral is required in order to see one of our psychologists, however, you can contact your GP for a referral under Medicare (if eligible) to receive a rebate on services provided.


The Gottman Institute. (2015). About the Gottman Method. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.gottman.com/about-gottman-method-couples-therapy/