Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dr. John Gottman: Marriage counseling often destroys the marriage

(Continuation of the thread that divorce is used to often as a solution for a bad marriage - which can typically be saved if the couple has more realistic information about the nature of marriage and what to expect.)
see also Esther Perel

Couples are often advised to go to marital counselling by rabbis/rebbetzins and friends. The assumption being that a popular therapist [or wise rabbi or rebbetzin] will be the best way to save the marriage - if there is what to save. If the therapist can't help then it is assumed that divorce is the only solution.

Dr. John Gottman takes a approach that is different and makes a lot of sense - and often works. 
Gottman found that the four negative behaviors that most predict divorce are criticism of partners’ personality, contempt (from a position of superiority), defensiveness, and stonewalling, or emotional withdrawal from interaction. On the other hand, stable couples handle conflicts in gentle, positive ways, and are supportive of each other.[5]

He developed the Gottman Method Couple’s Therapy based on his research findings. The therapy aims to increase respect, affection, and closeness, break through and resolve conflict, generate greater understandings, and to keep conflict discussions calm.[6] The Gottman Method seeks to help couples build happy and stable marriages.
 The following is one of the reviews of his books.
Amazon Review  I practiced psychotherapy in New York City for fourteen years. Though I had training as a marriage counselor in addition to my main training as a psychotherapist, I turned away more couples than I accepted. Most years, I didn't take on more than one or two couples, if that. 

There were many reasons for this, but fundamentally it was that marriage counseling rarely works. (About thirty-five to forty percent of the time, and half of those relapse, according to the best research.) I had made a vow when I went into training that I would never take on patients that I did not honestly believe I could help. (I can't say that I kept that vow sterling, being human--but I tried.) Most couples, I believed, could not be helped, so I didn't want to take their money or waste their time. 

In hard, cold truth, most of what most marriage counselors teach is just made up. Concocted. Without any sound research base. That's just a fact. When I was in training, I was utterly shocked at this. I was appalled at the simple-minded dogmatism of marriage-counseling orthodoxy. 

Most mental health care has a flimsier basis in research than its proponents admit (or even know, often), but in marriage counseling, the paucity of good research was almost total. (This evaluation of the low scientific basis of mental health care is not some private crackpot theory of mine; I wrote it up in my book "Cultures of Healing," which was published by the book-publishing arm of Scientific American in 1995 and will be republished, under a different title--"Health and Suffering in America: The Context and Content of Mental Health Care"--next year by Transaction Publishers/Rutgers. My point here is not to plug my book so much as to tell you that I know whereof I speak, and to encourage you to take my recommendation here seriously.) 

If I had known John Gottman's work back then, I would have had an entirely different approach to treating couples, and I would have taken more of them on. (No one in my three years of training ever mentioned Gottman, and I went to a pretty respectable institute. Gottman is just so at odds with conventional wisdom in the field that he wasn't even taken seriously.) 

Gottman's opinions--though he denies that they are opinions--are based on admirable, extensive, carefully analyzed research. While there is much to criticize methodologically about this research, and it certainly is nowhere near as conclusive as he says, at least he has done real work--not sat around making stuff up and pawning it off on students and patients. His is the best research of which I (now, many years later) know. Even if it isn't knock-down-drag-out conclusive, it is much better to have opinions based on extensive research and attempts to understand it rigorously than on no research, wild speculation, wishful thinking, and wooly feelings. Gotttman's opinions are very good, for the most part. 

This book does a nice job of conveying the gist of his work, in clear, practical form. 

In my experience, most marriage counselors do more harm than good and teach more made-up nonsense that practical wisdom. So unless you can find someone who trained with Gottman, I'd say DON'T go to a marriage counselor--buy this book.[...]



    A paper by Richard E. Heyman, "The hazard of predicting divorce without cross validation"[11] analyzes 15 divorce prediction models and questions their validity.
    When analyzing a given dataset, it is possible to overfit the model to the data, which will work extremely nice for this dataset, but will not work when tested on fresh data.
    Ninety percent prediction may actually mean much less when considering false positives and the low base rates of divorce.
    "Overfitting can cause extreme overinflation of predictive powers, especially when oversampled extreme groups and small samples are used, as was the case with Gottman et al. (1998; n = 60 couples for the prediction analyses) and nearly all of the other divorce prediction studies ... published studies that find extraordinary initial predictive results may aid us in improving models of risk by identifying important risk factors. Nonetheless, dissemination of 'predictive power' results in the popular media must await supportive data on sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value when the predictive equation is applied to independent samples. By recognizing both the value and limitations of predictive studies, professionals and the public alike will be served best."[11]
    The author shows his points by creating a divorce prediction model with a data set, and showing its low validity when the above considerations are tested.
    Prof. Gottman never published a reply to this critique.
    Journalist Laurie Abraham also disputed the prediction power of Gottman's method. Abraham writes, "What Gottman did wasn't really a prediction of the future but a formula built after the couples' outcomes were already known. This isn't to say that developing such formulas isn't a valuable — indeed, a critical — first step in being able to make a prediction. The next step, however —one absolutely required by the scientific method— is to apply your equation to a fresh sample to see whether it actually works. That is especially necessary with small data slices (such as 57 couples), because patterns that appear important are more likely to be mere flukes. But Gottman never did that."[12] The Gottman Relationship Institute claims that six of seven of Gottman's studies have been properly predictive, by the standard that the predictors, but not their specific relationship to the outcome, were selected in advance.[13] However, Gottman's 2002 paper makes no claims to accuracy in terms of binary classification, and is instead a regression analysis of a two factor model where skin conductance levels and oral history narratives encodings are the only two statistically significant variables. Facial expressions using Ekman's encoding scheme were not statistically significant.[14]

    1. yes - as the review notes these the ideas are Gottman's opinions. Problem is that marriage therapy - like most therapy really has no scientific justification

    2. Or social sciences, which include Psychology, are not scientific in the same sense as hard sciences such as physic, chemistry etc.

    3. That is not the issue. It is the fact that most techniques have not be systematcially evaluated with proper studies.

  2. E.F.T., by Dr. Sue Johnson (not a Jew) claims to be outstanding in its having tremendous scientific backing. Her working premises is "attachment theory", which Gottman seems to understand as well.

    The difference is that she has developed a real hands-on therepeutic approach that helps the couple zone in on their subconscious tendencies to disconnect during their feeble attempts to resolve conflicts, and gently guide them to realize that marriage is all about learning and relearning the art of connecting.

    Someone may also want to look up on the OU website from a couple years back an article by Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, "The Relationship Rabbi". He speaks there about the very real and mounting evidence we have of how Individual Therpay causes death blows to marriages.

  3. Not discussed is if one party is not dedicated to the marriage counselling.

  4. I have studied this book by John Gottman "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work". It seems to offer some of the most useful and effective marriage advice available in any popular books. Many in the frum community might benefit from this book.

    1. Many in the frum community might benefit from this book.

      god forbid! torah true yahadus doesn't learn from goyim about how to manage the holy institution of qiddushim v'nesuin! harabbanim haqedoshim, einei hador, teach us how to live our live in qedusha v'tahara and zeh hu!

    2. rather strange than that gedolim send people to psychologists for marital problem. Being a talmid chachom doesn't mean competence in this area.

      I once ask as an established talmid chachom to form a partnership dealing with marriage counseling. He replied, "Everyone knows that talmidei chachomim have shalom bayis problems - it would not be beneficial to you."

      rather strange that Rav Moshe would recommend reading goyishe marriage manuals and that Rav Yaakov would acknowledge he was not knowledgable about marriage counseling and sexuality in his haskoma to Travis' book on the subject. That the Noveminsker would tell me that there are 8 year olds who know more about sexuality than he.

      Perhaps you are referring to the well known shalom bayis issues of Ger because of the takkonos?

      Bottom line we don't learn kedusha v'taharah from goyim but they do have what to teach us about marriage and sexuality

    3. i was being sarcastic about certain attitudes found amongst my brethren.

    4. If you go to a secular or goyish expert for a car problem; a health problem - chas v'shalom, eg asthma , why is psychology, marriage and sexuality any different? When there were real experts like Maimonides, he studied the works of Arab and greek scholars; he wrote about asthma, and also about sex - he created his own "viagra" through research and development.
      The later generations see all these areas as treif, eg R' Dessler, R' Shach.

  5. you guys are aware that Gottman is a kippa sruga wearing Yid, right?

    1. His parents were Orthodox but he is affilated with Conservative Judaism

    2. yy, where in the Shulchan Aruch is it written that a kippa sruga is incorrect?

  6. So, DT - what do you think about posting some of Sue Johnson's wisdom. There's alot on Youtube, and she & colleagues claim outstanding scientific backing....

  7. Here - you may want to begin with googling: "Sue Johnson Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) in Action"

  8. And here's the google lead to Slatkin's important article:

    How My Therapist Destroyed My Marriage | Everyday Jewish Living ...‎
    Jan 10, 2013

  9. one more: Emes Ve-Emunah: Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin Clarifies His Educational ...‎

  10. I am really happy that Mr Robinson reunited i and my lover back together. what an experience! Mr Robinson is a wonderful spell caster, he has made my life complete again by helping me cast a spell to return my lover and also make my lover to be faithful to me again. I was skeptical at first, but what a believer I am now, his spell really worked! my lover is now faithful to me, if you are also seeking for help to get your lover back? Call (+)1 9 7 1 5 1 2 6 7 4 5 or email robinsonbuckler@yahoo. com

  11. Great blog. I got here good information about divorce after marriage.
    Relationship Counselling provides the best service of Marriage Counselling

  12. Nice blog about vashikaran, helps you obtain everything you actually desired to have. The meaning of Vashikaran is to have somebody in your. We give vashikaran service of Vashikaran Specialist Baba in Mumbai,
    Marriage Problem Specialist in Delhi,
    Financial Problems Specialist in Punjab,
    Business Problem Solution Vashikaran in Delhi,
    Free Janampatri Kundali in Punjab,
    Child Problem Vashikaran Specialist in Delhi
    Vashikaran Mantra in Rajasthan
    We assure round the clock services to them and they can rely upon us when it comes to the best Astrology and Love Solution Service. If you did not get the result from any Astrologer then contact us We have solution of your all problem by power of Astrology like love life..

  13. The Gottmans systematically destroyed my marriage of nearly a decade. John's predictive methods become more transparent to one personally involved in the process. Perhaps I was not enthusiastic enough about it. Ask him about their federal grants as contractors for the US military for providing marriage counseling to PTSD war veterans. It is an assumption that the goal of the marriage 'counselor' is the same as your own, which traditionally meant to keep a couple together.

  14. Slate dragged Gottman and his 'science' through the mud and back to where it belongs.

  15. Great post and there is a very good Slate article on the Gottman fraud

  16. Just admiring your work and wondering how you managed this blog so well. It’s so remarkable that I can't afford to not go through this valuable information whenever I surf the internet! Living Well Counselling Services

  17. Dear priest ogidiga, Thanks for everything. You are the best among all the spellcasters I tried these last months. They gave me little results but none of them did what you done. I hardly believe this but you just fulfilled my dream. I say it again: You are the best my husband is back. any one look for help should visit him on email him on [M I R A C L E C E N T E R 1 1 0 @ G M A I L . C O M] or whatsapp at + 2 3 4 8 1 8 2 2 6 0 9 8 2
    Monica Fay.

  18. Is sex dirty? Only when it’s being done right. Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.