Lessons from the Love Lab


Lessons from the Love Lab

The Science of Couples Therapy

By Julie Schwartz Gottman and John Gottman

November/December 2015


Science differentiates truth from fiction. The psychotherapy field is no exception. These days we hear that our methods should be rooted in scientific study. After all, research in psychology and neuroscience has made tremendous strides over the past five decades, especially in the causes and treatment of psychopathology.

Before scientists zeroed in on mental illness, we thought poor mothering was the cause of almost every disorder. We assumed that cold, distant mothers created autism, and mothers giving double messages spawned schizophrenia. But later, studies in genetics and neuroscience corrected these misconceptions. It turned out moms weren’t so bad; broken DNA and crossed wiring were more the problem.

Recently, there’ve been thousands of studies on what works and doesn’t in individual psychotherapy treatment. Now we know that for many people, cognitive therapy eases depression, behavioral desensitization cures phobias, and medication helps contain psychoses. As therapists, we look to these methods to help our clients because they’ve been scientifically validated and have proven helpful. But what methods do we use when it comes to treating couples? Let’s look at the history of our field first to understand the context in which scientific studies have been conducted and what they have taught us.

In psychology, it began in the mid-20th century. The 1950s and ’60s were revolutionary years in American intellectual history, a time of turmoil, upheaval, and

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1 Comment

Friday, March 25, 2016 8:11:30 PM | posted by James
I think that the authors completely misrepresented Bowen theory. My understanding of Bowen's work is that the goal is to balance the desire for independence and the desire for togetherness, um that process is interdependence. Bowen did not say the goal was to become a "Mr. Spock", though some seem to read that into his work. Additionally, the goal for overexpressed emotionality (flooding) is some type of desensitization or other process that allows one to "go meta" to the existing pattern loop and thereby gain some form of control over that process.