Gottman Repair Checklist

Download the Gottman Repair Checklist Template for enhanced relationship communication. Strengthen connections with this practical and free resource.

By Joshua Napilay on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is a Gottman Repair Checklist?

The Gottman Repair Checklist is a resource developed by renowned psychologists Drs. John and Julie Gottman as part of their influential work in the field of couples therapy. This checklist is a practical guide for couples seeking to navigate difficult conversations and prevent conflicts from escalating into detrimental territory.

Comprising various categories such as "I feel," "I'm sorry," "Get to yes," "I need to calm down," "Stop action," and "I appreciate," the checklist consists of specific phrases tailored to address different aspects of communication. 

The purpose is to provide couples with a structured framework during challenging discussions. When faced with potential conflict, partners can refer to the checklist to identify which phrases may be most effective in diffusing tension and promoting understanding.

The Repair Checklist aligns with the broader Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, a therapeutic approach developed by the Gottmans based on their extensive research into relationship dynamics. 

The method focuses on nine essential components for building and maintaining healthy relationships. Incorporating tools like the Repair Checklist, the Gottman Method aims to equip couples with practical strategies to enhance communication, manage conflicts, and strengthen their emotional connection.

The Gottman Repair Checklist is a valuable resource that empowers couples to engage in constructive communication during challenging moments. By fostering effective dialogue and promoting understanding, the checklist contributes to the overarching goal of the Gottman Method – helping couples build and sustain thriving, resilient relationships.

Printable Gottman Repair Checklist

Download this Gottman Repair Checklist, which helps promote effective communication and conflict resolution.

How does it work?

Initiating the Gottman Repair Checklist Process involves several key steps to promote effective communication and conflict resolution within couples.

Identification of triggering situations

Couples initiate the process by identifying situations or topics that may lead to conflicts or heightened emotions within their relationship. This step is crucial for anticipating and addressing potential sources of tension.

Accessing the checklist

Couples are encouraged to access the Gottman Repair Checklist, conveniently available in printable and digital formats. This versatile accessibility ensures the tool can be readily utilized in various settings.

Category and phrase selection

Within the checklist, couples are prompted to choose a relevant communication category from options such as "I feel", "I'm sorry", "Get to yes", "I need to calm down", "Stop action", or "I appreciate". Within the selected category, they choose phrases that best express their emotions or intentions in the given context.

Verbal expression

Couples are encouraged to articulate their thoughts, emotions, or apologies using the chosen phrases during the conversation. Emphasizing "I feel" statements is particularly highlighted as an effective means of expression.

Acknowledgment and response

Partners actively engage in acknowledging and responding to each other's selected phrases. This step fosters mutual understanding and validation, promoting empathy and connection.

Conflict de-escalation and resolution

The Repair Checklist serves as a guide for couples to de-escalate conflicts, preventing further negativity. It encourages collaborative efforts to work towards resolution, emphasizing the importance of finding common ground.

Reflect and reassess

After the conversation, couples are prompted to take time for reflection. This involves assessing the chosen phrases' effectiveness and reevaluating the interaction's emotional tone. This reflective practice contributes to improving communication dynamics and conflict resolution strategies.

Gottman Repair Checklist example (sample)

In this case, the Gottman Repair Checklist is applied to enhance communication with a patient named Jane Doe, who recently received a cancer diagnosis. Identifying triggering situations highlights the emotional complexity of discussing diagnoses, prompting the medical professional to tailor their approach. 

By providing Jane with a printable copy of the checklist, the medical professional ensures accessibility and encourages collaborative engagement. The chosen communication category, "Concerns", allows Jane to express her feelings, emphasizing the effectiveness of "I feel" statements. 

Active acknowledgment and response from the medical professional validate Jane's emotions and pave the way for collaborative actions such as adjusting the treatment plan. After the discussion, the reflective notes indicate a positive shift in the emotional tone, showcasing the checklist's utility in fostering mutual understanding.

Download this Gottman Repair Checklist sample:

Gottman Repair Checklist example (sample)

When would you use this checklist?

The Gottman Repair Checklist is an invaluable tool for medical professionals, designed to enhance communication and navigate challenging discussions with patients facing complex health situations. 

Particularly effective during sensitive moments such as delivering diagnoses and discussing treatment plans, this checklist provides a structured framework for practitioners to foster understanding and build rapport with patients.

  • Difficult diagnoses: Employ the checklist when breaking challenging news to patients, ensuring the conversation is guided with empathy and sensitivity.
  • Treatment plan discussions: Utilize the template to align patient preferences with medical recommendations during treatment plan discussions, fostering collaborative decision-making.
  • Health-related concerns: Implement the checklist in scenarios where patients may be experiencing uncertainty, anxiety, or fear, maintaining supportive and constructive communication.
  • Therapeutic settings: Mental health practitioners, counselors, and therapists can also leverage the checklist as a structured tool in therapeutic settings, allowing clients to express emotions and concerns effectively.
  • Preventing conflict escalation: The checklist proves beneficial in preventing conflicts from escalating during discussions involving emotionally charged topics, promoting a positive and collaborative atmosphere.
  • Building rapport: Use the checklist to build rapport with patients, fostering mutual understanding and creating a conducive environment for open communication.

The Gottman Repair Checklist is a versatile resource applicable in various healthcare settings, contributing to effective communication, collaborative decision-making, and improved patient-provider relationships. 

Whether in medical consultations or therapeutic sessions, this template guides practitioners to navigate complex discussions with empathy and clarity.

What do the results mean?

The results obtained from using the Gottman Repair Checklist can provide valuable insights into the dynamics of communication and understanding within a healthcare or therapeutic relationship. 

Common results from employing this checklist reflect the effectiveness of the communication strategies implemented and the overall health of the patient-provider or client-therapist relationship.

  • Positive communication dynamics: If the checklist leads to open and constructive communication, where patients or clients feel heard and validated, it indicates a positive dynamic. Positive results include active acknowledgment, effective use of chosen phrases, collaborative problem-solving, and fostering a strong sense of rapport.
  • Conflict de-escalation: Successful implementation of the Repair Checklist should contribute to de-escalating conflicts. If the chosen phrases reduce tension, prevent further negativity, and encourage collaborative actions, it suggests a successful application in resolving potential disputes.
  • Patient/client comfort and understanding: Positive results also manifest in the comfort and understanding patients or clients express. If the checklist helps individuals express their concerns, navigate uncertainty, and feel supported, the communication strategies contribute to a positive therapeutic or healthcare relationship.
  • Reflective practice: Results include the effectiveness of the meditative practice encouraged by the checklist. After the conversation, if practitioners find that they can reassess the emotional tone and improve the communication dynamics, it indicates a commitment to continuous improvement and patient-centered care.
  • Adaptability and personalization: Adapting and personalizing the checklist to specific patient or client needs is crucial. Positive results involve tailoring the communication categories and phrases to address each interaction's unique circumstances, enhancing the tool's relevance and effectiveness.

Why use Carepatron as your Gottman Repair Checklist app?

Carepatron is a healthcare workspace tailored for small teams and their clients, designed to elevate your practice and streamline every aspect of your workflow. 

Our user-friendly interface offers many features, from intuitive appointment scheduling and secure telehealth services to hassle-free online payments and synchronized calendars.

Boost your practice organization with our practice management app, where clinicians can effortlessly coordinate schedules, manage tasks, and conduct team meetings in one centralized location. 

Our commitment to data security is unparalleled, as we adhere to HIPAA compliance standards, ensuring the utmost confidentiality and protection of healthcare data.

We believe in nurturing healthy relationships. That's why we provide free Relationship Checklist Templates and Relationship Needs Checklist Templates. These invaluable tools empower individuals to consider their needs and deal-breakers and envision the dynamics they desire in relationships.

Experience the simplicity of Carepatron – it's not just easy to use; it's a delight to navigate.  As an all-in-one platform, we go beyond the basics. We've covered everything from note-taking and appointment booking to creating invoices and securely storing patient information. 

For those focused on relationship health, Carepatron is the ideal place to utilize the Gottman Repair Checklist Template – secure, user-friendly, and dedicated to your practice's success.

Make Carepatron your go-to healthcare workspace and elevate your practice to new heights. Experience the difference – streamline, organize, and thrive with Carepatron!

General Practice Software


Benson, K., & Benson, K. (2023, September 12). Repair is the Secret Weapon of Emotionally Connected Couples. The Gottman Institute. 

Davis, E. (2023, October 11). Navigating the Path to Affair Recovery: Gottman Method. Mental Health Match. 

Lambert, B. (2021, January 4). Relationship Communication: John Gottman’s Repair Attempts — How Communication Works. How Communication Works. 

The Gottman Institute. (2013, October 3). How to Repair After Conflict | Drs. John and Julie Gottman [Video]. YouTube. 

Thomas, S. (2016, February 22). Gottman Part 5 of 5- Repair Attempts - Sonya Thomas lcsw. Sonya Thomas Lcsw. 

Vinney, C., PhD. (2023, November 15). Overview of the Gottman Method. Verywell Mind. 

Wesner, M. (2022, December 14). Repair, Not Re-Traumatize Beginning to Heal Relationship Wounds — LifeSpring Counseling Services in Maryland. LifeSpring Counseling Services in Maryland. 

How do you create a Gottman Repair Checklist?
How do you create a Gottman Repair Checklist?

Commonly asked questions

How do you create a Gottman Repair Checklist?

To create a Gottman Repair Checklist, identify communication categories, such as "I feel" or "I appreciate," and select phrases within those categories. Utilize relevant phrases that express emotions or intentions in various contexts.

When are Gottman Repair Checklists used?

Gottman Repair Checklists are used during challenging conversations or conflicts in relationships. They help prevent escalation and foster positive communication by providing structured phrases for expressing emotions and intentions.

How are the Gottman Repair Checklists used?

The checklists are employed by referring to predefined categories and phrases during conversations. Partners choose and express thoughts using these phrases to de-escalate conflicts, enhance understanding, and improve communication dynamics.

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