Gottman Method Worksheets

Stave off the relationship apocalypse by learning to recognize the four relationship horsemen and their antidotes, as posited by Dr. John Gottman, to prevent a relationship from ending in disaster. 

By Alex King on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What Is A Gottman Method Worksheet?

One of the key concepts created by Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Insititute, is the four relationship horsemen. Taken from Christian scriptures, the concept of the four horsemen invokes images of a disastrous ending- or in our case, a relationship apocalypse. In relationship terms, the four signs that signal that the end of a relationship is nigh are:

  • Criticism
  • Stonewalling
  • Defensiveness, and
  • Contempt.

That doesn’t mean that a relationship is doomed if you recognize one or more of these horsemen, it just means that some antidotes are required to prevent the relationship apocalypse. And luckily, that’s exactly where our Gottman Method Worksheet can help. Well, that’s enough apocalypse talk for now, let’s have a look at how this worksheet can help improve your- or your client’s- relationships!

Printable Gottman Method Worksheet

Download this Gottman Method Worksheet and help clients work through challenges they are facing in their relationships.

How To Use This Gottman Method Inspired Worksheet

While we’ve kept this worksheet simple, and focused on one concept from Gottman Relationship Therapy, we have still packed in a lot into a single page, so to make sure you are confident in getting the most out of this Gottman Method Worksheet, just follow the step-by-step guide provided here.

Step One. Download the Worksheet

The first step is an easy one, and that’s to download your copy of the free PDF Gottman Method Worksheet from the link provided on this page. 

Step Two. Add your/your client’s details

Next, add your or your client’s name and the date at the top of the page. Adding the date is useful for both keeping your clinical documentation organized, but also for monitoring your client’s progress over time. 

Step Three. Check off the Horsemen that you use/have used in the past

The first activity in this worksheet is to read through the four horsemen and check off any that you recognize as being something you have used in your relationship. Not everyone will have engaged in all four horsemen, so be sure to only check off those that you know you have experience using. If you are a relationship counselor or mental health practitioner, it may be beneficial to run through an explanation of each of the four horsemen before your clients complete this worksheet to ensure they get the most out of the resource. 

Step Four. Describe what this horseman looks like for you specifically

In order to help your clients quickly identify when they are using this horseman in the future, the next activity is to think of examples of when your client has used this horseman in the past. These might be phrases they have used when communicating with their partner or patterns of behavior they have developed when faced with conflict in their relationship. 

Step Five. Using the antidote provided, write down three specific ways you can incorporate the antidote into your relationship

The last exercise in this worksheet is to brainstorm ways to incorporate the antidote to all of the horsemen checked off. These antidotes might be alternative phrases, behaviors, or soothing activities.

Step Six. Discuss your answers with your partner/counselor

This worksheet is best completed by both members of a relationship, and it can be beneficial to have the couple help each other create antidotes to the horsemen that have unwittingly become part of their communication. Ensuring both members of the couple are aware of the antidotes the other will be trying to incorporate in the future can also help ensure the success of these interventions. 

Step Seven. Store the Worksheet Securely

Once you have discussed your clients’ results in a group setting or individually, ensure you store the completed Gottman Method Worksheets securely as part of your client’s clinical record as it contains sensitive and confidential patient information.

Gottman Method Worksheet Example (Sample)

While everyone will have different ways to utilize the antidote to the horsemen that are relevant to them, it can still be helpful to see an example of the sorts of things that you or your clients may write in this worksheet. And that’s why we have created this sample Gottman Method Worksheet; to illustrate how this worksheet works and provide some examples of the kind of responses you might see. Take a look at the example worksheet here, or download it as a PDF if you prefer. 

Download this Gottman Method Worksheet Example (Sample) here:

Gottman Method Worksheet Example (Sample)

Who Can Use this Printable Gottman Method Worksheet (PDF)?

This Gottman Method Worksheet focuses on one simple concept from the Gottman Method of relationship therapy and, as such, it does not require formal training in this therapeutic method to utilize effectively. That being said, the professionals who will likely be able to get the most value out of this worksheet with their clients are those with a background in couples or relationship counseling, such as:

  • Couple’s therapists
  • Clinical psychologists specializing in relationship counseling
  • Marriage counselors
  • Gottman Method Relationship Therapists
  • Couple’s counselors
  • Relationship coaches
  • Life coaches

While our worksheet includes reminders of the antidotes of each of these four horsemen, it may be extra helpful for your clients if you are able to provide an explanation of the four horsemen concept – and so having a background or understanding of this Gottman principle will be advantageous for you and your clients.

Why Is This Form Useful For Therapists?

Use as a Couple’s Therapy Exercise

This worksheet can provide a great exercise for couples therapy sessions. Simply provide a short explanation of the four horsemen, provide the worksheet to both members of the couple, and once completed, let the discussion of their responses flow. 

Give your client’s therapy “homework”

Keeping up the therapeutic work between sessions can be tough for your clients as life gets in the way, which is why many practitioners choose to assign therapy “homework” to their clients. This worksheet is a great, short assignment for your clients to ensure they are keeping up the good work between sessions with you. 

Help your clients practice self-reflection

Completing this worksheet is a great way for your clients to learn to take responsibility for their part in their relationship conflicts by practicing self-reflection. Coming up with specific instances of times they have engaged in one or more of the relationship horsemen will motivate them to acknowledge their past behavior and move forward in a different way.

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Benefits of Gottman Method Worksheet Template

Flexible Worksheet Template

We understand that every relationship will be different, and not every client will relate to all four of these relationship horsemen. As such, we have ensured this template is flexible enough to be completed by any of your clients with relationship issues they want to address through couple therapy.

Create Specific Solutions 

While a great start, it isn’t enough to just be able to recognize the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse; there needs to be a specific action taken in order to negate the effects of each horseman. And that’s why we have included space for specific phrases, actions, or alternative thoughts your clients can use in place of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling. 

Includes Antidote Explanation

These antidotes are specific to each horseman, and so we have included descriptions of each in the worksheet to help your client create the most effective strategies for improving communication in their relationship. 

Engage your Clients in their Counseling

Offering a resource like our Gottman Method worksheet is a great way to engage your clients in their treatment, and elevate them from being passive attendees to active participants. Worksheets also allow your clients to express themselves in their own words, allowing both you and their partner greater insight into their perspective. 

Keep your Worksheets Digital

Last but certainly not least, this worksheet can be completed entirely digitally using interactive PDF features like textboxes and checkboxes. Simply send a copy of the worksheet digitally, and your clients can complete it from their device of choice. 

Why Use Carepatron For Gottman Method Software?

As a relationship therapist, you’ll know that the work doesn’t end once your clients complete this worksheet- in fact, it’s only just beginning! The discussions and work that follows in sessions with you will undoubtedly produce an array of insights and treatment paths for your clients, all of which will need to be accurately documented and carefully stored to maintain data privacy. 

And that’s where Carepatron can help! We offer HIPAA-compliant, digitally encrypted data storage for all your documents, including your client’s Gottman Method Worksheets. Rest assured that your client’s documentation will be both secure and easily accessible from our mobile or desktop platforms, whenever you need them.

Additionally, Carepatron offers other useful features for streamlining your practice’s administration, such as our community template library, 24/7 customer support, a client portal with appointment scheduling functionality, video conferencing tools, smart dictation software, and much more. Carepatron was made to take your practice to the next level by automating your administration tasks so you can focus on what you do best.

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References

  1. Gottman J. M. (1993). A theory of marital dissolution and stability. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 57–75
  2. Gottman, J. M. (2008). Gottman method couple therapy. Clinical handbook of couple therapy, 4(8), 138-164
Who should complete this Gottman Method Worksheet?
Who should complete this Gottman Method Worksheet?

Commonly asked questions

Who should complete this Gottman Method Worksheet?

This worksheet serves as a good introduction to the concept of the four relationship horsemen from Gottman Relationship Therapy. As such, it should be completed by clients who are in the early phase of their therapy journey and may not have had much exposure to other Gottman Method principles. If they respond well to the concepts in this worksheet, it may be a sign that the Gottman Method couple therapy could be a good fit for them.

Who created the Four Relationship Horsemen?

The four relationship horsemen were created by Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Institute1.

When should I complete this Gottman Method Worksheet?

When your clients complete this Gottman Method Worksheet is up to you as the leader of the therapy sessions. It may be beneficial, however, to assign this worksheet as “homework” in order to allow sufficient time for each client to carefully consider their responses.

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