Gottman Relationship Checkup
I am delighted that I can now offer Drs. John and Julie Gottman's research-based marriage and relationship checkup for both new and existing clients, workshop attendees, couples planning to marry, couples who simply want to enrich their marriage, or couples who are unhappy and long for ways to make their relationship more of what they both want. I also offer this checkup for couples who would like to do the evaluation and then decide later about whether or not they want to pursue counseling with me or someone else -- or, whether they just want to work on their own in the areas that can make them stronger and more connected.
Who Are the Gottmans?
John Gottman, Ph.D. is considered the leading researcher of the past 30 years or more on why marriages and relationships succeed or fail. With his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, they have worked to discover what makes "Masters of Relationships" or "Disasters of Relationships." What do successful marriages have that unsuccessful relationships don't? What builds love? What predicts decline or divorce if not changed? The Gottmans have created tools to apply their continuing research in practical ways for both for couples and for therapists who work with couples.
What IS the Gottman Marriage Checkup?
From over 40 years of scientific research, Dr. John Gottman, has developed this assessment of the strength and quality of relationships grounded in his evidence-based information on what makes marriages succeed or fail. He had published various assessment tools for therapists to use to evaluate the marriage or relationship. The online evaluation combines and expands these. It uses 480 questions to measure strengths and weaknesses in areas of Friendship and Intimacy, the Safety Scales, the Conflict Scales, a Shared Meaning System and Individual Areas of Concern. It looks at areas like levels of friendship, romance, admiration, connecting rituals, emotional and sexual intimacy, trust, commitment, how couples work with conflict, finances, chores, children and some behaviors which can put the relationship at risk. (Click here for a more detailed list of what the assessment covers.)
How does it work?
Each partner creates his or her own access on and takes his or her own quiz. ( When you sign up for the Relationship Checkup, I will give you specific directions on how to sign up, etc.) It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to complete your quiz, depending on whether you make additional comments, etc. You can do part of the evaluation, leave it, log out and come back to it when you are ready. You do NOT have to do it all in one sitting. You do not see your partner's answers so that each can answer honestly. The online site is HIPAA compliant, which means it meets the strict standards of security required for medical records and standards of confidentiality.
After both partners complete their own checkup, the evaluation is completed, scored and sent me, the therapist, with the results and recommendations. It reports on strengths, weaknesses, and recommended areas of action based on Dr. Gottman's research.
You then meet with me to go over results -- your strengths, recommended areas of work which help set goals for our work together in addition to other goals you may have already created. I like to meet with the couple together, but depending on what comes out in the evaluation, I may take some time at the beginning of our feedback session to meet with one or both of you individually briefly to clarify something and then continue with the two of you together for recommendations. The purpose is to improve and strengthen your relationship. We meet for a total of 1.5 hours and the fee is $140 (the cost of a standard session). I pay the fee for the checkup with the Gottman Institute.
Do we get a copy of the results from Gottman Institute?
No, you do not get a copy of the full report directly from the Gottman Institute. The results go to your therapist to review, clarify if necessary, and share with you. It is also not possible to see the actual report without revealing each person's answers. That would would defeat the purpose of doing it separately to help you both feel emotionally safe to answer honestly without worrying about hurting your partner's feelings or repercussions. In addition, the report from the Institute is only part of the assessment. The therapist, uses additional information and interaction in the session to blend for a recommended approach. However, I will share with you strengths, areas of concern, and recommendations. We will discuss most of it in our session and I will later write up a basic report for you both which will give you the key findings and recommendations, but protects each person's answers.
Who should take it?
Most couples can benefit from the assessment and recommendations. It can help you pinpoint and clarify steps to make your marriage or relationship more of what you both want. Who else can benefit? Couples on the path towards marriage or committed partnership, couples who want to simply enrich their connection, couples in transition points in their lives as a couple (empty nest, retirement, etc.) and looking at how to strengthen their bond, couples who are stuck in a one or more areas, couples who are unhappy and can't seem to turn things around, couples who feel disconnected but wish they could make things work, and more.
Are there couples who should NOT take it?
Couples with violent relationships -- physical assault, marital rape, violence outside the relationship, untreated addictions, suicidal crises, personality disorders such as schizophrenia or paranoid personality disorder and other severe disorders. You should seek help specifically for those issues. This would not be an appropriate choice for evaluation and recommendations.
© Dawn Lipthrott, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in marriage and relationships in Winter Park, FL. Her goal is to help you take the relationship you have and make it much more of the one you both truly want -- and in so doing, make the world a better place.