Has your relationship, or the relationship of someone you know, experienced an emotional or sexual affair? The Gottman Institute is seeking participation in a new study on affair recovery in specific geographic areas.
As compensation, couples will meet with a Certified Gottman Therapist and receive access to the Gottman Relationship Checkup assessment and interpretation of the results, an average savings of $450 (Disclaimer: therapist’s standard session rates still apply and limited space is available).
Once a betrayal has been discovered there are many confusing and conflicting emotional experiences for both partners. It’s hard to know where to begin when trying to recover from such a devastating event. Let us help you!
You will be able to work with a skilled, compassionate Certified Gottman Therapist in a clinical setting. Your participation in this study will not only help your relationship, it will also help other couples struggling with affair recovery. This is the first study of its kind and has the potential to change the way affair recovery is treated around the world.
This study is a collaboration between Drs. John and Julie Gottman, The Gottman Institute, Dr. Paul Peluso and Taylor Irvine of Florida Atlantic University, and participating couples and therapists.
Average savings of $450 for Gottman Relationship Checkup assessment and interpretation conducted by a Certified Gottman Therapist! Therapist’s standard session rates still apply and limited space is available).
Do you qualify for the study?
- Couples must be presenting for therapy in response to a sexual or emotional affair
- Couples must be willing to travel to see a therapist located in one of the cities listed below or be willing to engage in telehealth counseling.
- Couples must be married or in a committed relationship
- You have NOT received couple therapy for the affair.
- You have NOT previously worked with a Certified Gottman Therapist.
- You are currently receiving psychotherapy services such as individual therapy or group therapy and are willing to cease services during your participation in the study.
Do you live in a qualifying location?
Couples must be willing to travel to see a therapist located in one of the following cities.
Couples may also opt to see a therapist for telehealth services within the states listed. This works for couples who want to do so for health reasons or for couples who live farther from the city the therapist is located in.
Qualifying locations are predetermined by the therapist state license.
|California**||Walnut Creek, Alameda, Campbell, San Luis Obispo, Tustin|
|Missouri**||Clayton, St. Louis|
|Texas**||Austin, Round Rock|
|Utah**||Salt Lake City|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Gottman Method Affair Recovery Research Study
The Gottman Institute has partnered with Florida Atlantic University on this international randomized control trial study which seeks to validate the effectiveness of Gottman Method Couples Therapy for couples that have experienced an emotional or sexual affair. We have received questions about the design of this study and why there is a cost to participants. To be transparent and share that we hear you, we want to explain the research and reasoning behind this important study.
FAQs About the Therapy During the Study
- What would I need to agree to in order to participate in this study?
To participate in this study, you would be agreeing to the following terms: (a) be willing to see a therapist via teletherapy, as many clinicians have not resumed face-to-face services since the pandemic; (b) agree to be randomly assigned to either an immediate start treatment group or a 3-week waitlist group which cannot be changed; (c) agree to complete a minimum of 8 sessions including a 6-month follow-up session; please note: these 8 sessions entail the standard assessment sessions per the Gottman method and do not imply that treatment is only 8 sessions, as individual healing time will vary; (d) agree to repeat Gottman assessment questionnaires at least three times during the study which are provided to you at no additional cost and; (e) agree to be video recorded at three times having a discussion about an ongoing problem in your relationship.
- What would disqualify me from participating in this study?
You would be disqualified from participating if you have (a) already received couple therapy for the affair, (b) you have previously worked with a Certified Gottman Therapist, (c) you are currently receiving psychotherapy services such as individual therapy or group therapy, and are unwilling to cease services during your participation in the study, (d) infidelity is not the primary reason you are seeking therapy, (e) you have a dual concern which could confound this study’s results and/or treatment is deemed to be inappropriate (e.g., substance abuse, sexual addiction, intimate partner violence, etc.).
- What’s the difference between the immediate start treatment group and the 3-week waitlist group?
The treatment groups are nearly identical, with all couples receiving therapy from a Certified Gottman Therapist that would use the same treatment protocol. The only difference is that couples assigned to the waitlist control group would be given Gottman assessments to complete while waiting for their first session. In addition, the 3-week wait period would begin from the date that the first Gottman assessments are completed.
- What is the “fee” a Certified Gottman Therapist would charge if we participated in the study?
Since therapists are from all over the world, we cannot post an exact fee. Once you apply to participate in the study, we will inform you of a possible Certified Gottman Therapist and their session rates before scheduling a screening call to share more information about the study. Most therapists charge rates consistent with the average session rates in their area.
- Do therapists in this study offer a reduced rate?
Yes. Some but not all Certified Gottman Therapists provide a reduced rate for this study. For those clinicians that do offer sliding scale, we ask that they make every attempt to offer a reduced fee to participants who are often marginalized in couple therapy research, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, low socioeconomic status, disabilities (visible and invisible), etc., to better represent the effectiveness of the Gottman method for relationships that are not often represented in research. The Gottman Method Couples Therapy has already been established as an Evidence-Based Treatment for Same-Sex Couples. When responding to the application verification email for the study, please indicate you are interested in the reduced rate.
- Do therapists in this study accept insurance?
Yes. Some but not all Certified Gottman Therapists do accept insurance. The remaining therapists may be able to offer a Superbill that you can submit to insurance. We would recommend checking with your provider about what they do cover. When responding to the application verification email for the study, please indicate that you are interested in being connected with a therapist who takes insurance, and we will do the best we can to find you one.
- Why do I need to cease individual, family, or group therapy for this research study?
The reason we need you to cease individual and/or group therapy is that it would confound the results of the study. For example, if you are seeing an individual therapist, going to family therapy, or group therapy, we would not be able to say with confidence that Gottman Method Couples Therapy is what improved the relationship and individual wellbeing. For this reason, we ask that you not participate in all other forms of therapy if you choose to participate in this study.
- When can I restart individual, family, or group therapy?
You may resume those services once you have completed treatment which would be decided by you and your assigned Certified Gottman Therapist. It is okay for this study to continue to see a psychiatrist for medication refills.
FAQs About the Research Study Design
- Why are we being asked to pay for therapy that is part of a research study?
There are three parts to our answer based on the current literature regarding research on couple therapy which is outlined below. In addition, the current research design was approved by an Institutional Review Board.
Part A: The Cost
Most couple therapy research studies are done in university settings in a controlled environment with the benefit of grant funding which allows the cost of therapy to be free. While there is grant funding in other countries for couple therapy, we have not received funding for this research study because there are no funds offered for infidelity treatment studies at this time in the United States. In addition, with the sample size required for significant findings (approximately 100 couples), a substantial grant would be needed. Despite this, we feel there is still more research needed.
9a. What financial incentives are there for participating in the study?
In our part to reduce cost, we do offer the Gottman Connect assessments for free and have them interpreted by your assigned therapist, which is an average savings of $450. In addition, some of our Certified Gottman Therapists also offer sliding scales and insurance (see the section above).
Part B: The Therapist
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of Gottman Method Couples Therapy with couples following an affair’s discovery. Previous studies on the effectiveness of couple therapy have indicated that interventions need to be more robust to effectively help couples, particularly when infidelity is involved. Most general couple therapy studies are completed in controlled conditions (such as a university setting) with student therapists under a supervisor who may watch the session live (Christensen et al., 2005). However, the treatment of infidelity necessitates specialized training to treat this complex issue.
9b. So, would we have sessions with a student?
No. All couples that agree to participate in this study would be paired with a Certified Gottman Therapist. Clinicians who receive this certification in the Gottman method are all licensed and have undergone additional, rigorous post-licensure training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy including (a) three levels of training in the Gottman method, (b) had multiple videos of their clinical work scrutinized by a Master Gottman therapist trainer, and (b) passed a video review process demonstrating that the effective use of Gottman interventions with couples. There are currently only 411 therapists that meet these qualifications in the world. By consenting to participate as a therapist in this study, they have agreed to follow the Gottman Method protocol by using the appropriate interventions at the proper time during treatment. Additionally, all therapists on the study have completed a supplementary Gottman method training, Treating Affairs and Trauma, which teaches the treatment protocol for effectively repairing relationships following infidelity. In an initial uncontrolled trial, this treatment method demonstrated a 75% success rate with couples following an affair (Gottman & Silver, 2013).
Part C: University Efficacy Studies in University Settings Do Not Translate to Real Therapy Offices
Efficacy studies in university settings fail to reproduce similar results in a naturalistic setting like a typical therapy office (Halford et al., 2016). Again, this has to do with supervision as well as the type of therapist being studied.
We also know that the screening procedures of university-based outcome studies often include a population that is only 0.5 standard deviation below the mean, which translates to couples being slightly unhappy (Gottman & Gottman, 2018). However, many couples starting couple therapy are 2.5 standard deviations below the mean, indicating high levels of distress (Gottman et al., 2020). This highlights that university-based outcome studies do not include the kinds of couples seen in a typical therapist office. In addition, these rates are significantly higher among couples following an affair’s discovery, with many couples experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder such as hypervigilance, intense emotional reactions, etc. (Gottman & Gottman, 2017). Our data from 40,681 couples starting couple therapy indicate that over 80% of couples about to begin therapy have severe problems with both conflict and intimacy (Gottman et al., 2020). Infidelity exacerbates these issues, with affair couples often exhibiting higher rates of hostile conflict interactions, increased anxiety or depression, fractured trust, etc.
- Doesn’t soliciting participants who follow The Gottman Institute create a non-randomized sample?
No. Our sample is a voluntary, convenience sample of couples who are actively seeking couple therapy for the treatment of infidelity. Couples consenting to participate in the study are then randomized into either an immediate therapy group or a three-week waitlist control therapy group. This study has met Institutional Review Board approval that is independent of The Gottman Institute.
- How are you getting a sample size for couples across all economic, racial, social, and religious backgrounds?
In our attempts to gain a sample size that is representative of all couples seeking therapy, we utilize marketing efforts that include having one of our Certified Gottman Therapists write about couples who attend therapy following an affair who are often not represented in the research (e.g., BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and lower socioeconomic status couples). Additionally, some, but not all Certified Gottman Therapists offer a reduced rate for this study. For those clinicians that do offer sliding scale, we ask that they make every attempt to offer a reduced fee to participants who are often marginalized in couple therapy research, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, low socioeconomic status, disabilities (visible and invisible), etc., to better represent the effectiveness of the Gottman method for relationships that are not often represented in research. Finally, the therapists in the study are also encouraged to recruit diverse couples to participate in the study when an affair has been divulged and is the primary presenting concern for therapy.
- What parts of therapy would specifically be recorded, and how?
The video recording portion of the study consists of only three 10-15-minute discussions that you and your partner would have about an ongoing problem in your relationship. These video recordings would occur 1) on the day of your first session, 2) on the day of your final session, and 3) at a 6-month follow-up session from when you terminate therapy. The remaining parts of therapy remain confidential and are not video recorded.
- Who has access to these video recordings? Also, would they be available for professional or training purposes? If so, how long, and in what capacity?
These tapes would strictly be accessed by authorized research personnel and only utilized for data coding purposes. The tapes would not be utilized in any capacity as training videos. This agreement would also be outlined in a consent form that we would provide before beginning the study.
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