Gottman Referral Network Therapist Directory Review

A beneficial resource for those seeking evidence-based relationship counseling

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Gottman Referral Network

We recommend the Gottman Referral Network for therapy seekers interested in relationship therapy, such as pre-marital, couples, or discernment counseling. It is also a valuable directory for Gottman-trained therapists to take advantage of.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
  • Easy to navigate

  • Requires therapists to have specialized training

  • Can message therapists directly

  • Focuses on relationship therapy

  • Few search filters

  • Not appropriate for polyamorous couples

  • Most research limited to white, heterosexual couples

  • Lack of diversity

Key Facts
States Served
50, plus D.C. and 40 other countries
Number Of Therapists
Types Of Therapy
Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy, Peer Support
Insurance Accepted
Yes, by some therapists
Sliding Scale Prices Available
Yes, by some therapists
Why Trust Us
Companies reviewed
Users Surveyed
Zipcodes Tested
To review 25 online therapist directories, we surveyed 180 users who'd used the service, interviewed with 358 therapists listed on the site, and sent each company a questionnaire. Then, we tested the directory's ability to serve 37 therapy seekers's needs across 18 zipcodes and evaluated the results with the help of three professional therapists.
In This Article
Gottman Referral Network Therapist Directory Review

Being in a relationship can be challenging at times. Whether it's because you have different communication styles, express love differently, disagree about how to raise your kids, or just seem to be experiencing a lot of tension in your relationship, it’s normal to hit bumps in the road from time to time. The good news is that couples therapy can help. In fact, even if you would characterize your relationship as “good” right now, this type of relationship-focused therapy can be a great preventative measure to keep your relationship on track and help you resolve issues early on in your relationship. One study, for example, found that 70% of couples reported that attending therapy positively impacted their relationship.

That said, it isn’t always easy to find a couples therapist who specializes in this type of therapy. But the Gottman Referral Network, a therapist directory, is trying to make it just a bit easier. In order to evaluate the service, we surveyed 180 users who had used the network to find their couples therapist. We also tested the service across 18 different zip codes and evaluated the service with the help of three licensed therapists. Here’s what we found.

What Is the Gottman Referral Network?

The Gottman Referral Network was created by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, clinical psychologists and founders of The Gottman Institute. With over 46 published books, they have created a name for themselves beyond just mental health professionals. Couples have grown familiar with their techniques and actively seek out Gottman-trained therapists. Their mission was to establish and strengthen couples and families in loving, healthy relationships through evidenced-based techniques. Users seemed to have mixed feeling about whether the company is succeeding at their mission; just 60% of the users who tried Gottman Referral Network found the company’s mission to be very good or good.

Dr. John Gottman developed the Gottman Method, a therapeutic approach that assesses a couple’s relationship and utilizes research-based techniques to improve communication and conflict-resolution skills. He identified four characteristics of a relationship that predict it will end, labeled “The Four Horsemen,” which refers to four characteristics of a relationship that might lead to the relationship ending, including criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Dr. Gottman also introduced Love Maps for couples to help them ask specific questions to get to know each other on a deeper level. The Gottman Method is heavily based on 40 years of research, which takes into consideration a variety of demographic factors, such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, and sexual orientation.

While the Gottman Referral Network isn’t the busiest therapy directory, there is incredible value to those seeking to improve their relationship through counseling. The company lists 1,343 providers in all 50 states as well as 40 additional countries. After clinicians receive specific levels of training in the approach, they are able to list themselves on the website. It’s worth pointing out that due to the directory’s narrow niche, each state differs in the number of providers it has. 

For instance, Kentucky lists six therapists while California has 129. Additionally, the majority of Gottman-trained therapists we interviewed were located in suburban areas, meaning that access to services might also be limited based on location. For instance, in Minnesota, there are three Gottman-trained therapists listed, but all three are within the same zip code.

First Impressions

The homepage is user-friendly, straightforward, and shaded in grays and lime green. You are greeted by a serene photo of a couple with text overlay that reads “A research-based approach to couples therapy.” The top of the homepage also highlights a maximum of three Gottman-trained therapists in your state. After scrolling further down the page, you will find a search bar to locate a therapist by city, state, or name. Below the search bar, you can click directly on your state or country to find results. Though the color palette seems like an odd combination, I found the directory clearly organized and easy to navigate.

It is worth noting that although the directory is streamlined to provide couples therapy, people who are unfamiliar with the Gottman approach to therapy might be confused. Therapists’ images are marked with specifiers like “Level 2 Trained” or “Level 3 Trained.” But the directory itself doesn’t describe what those levels mean and users may not understand it if they're not familiar with Dr. John Gottman’s work.


The website for the Gottman Referral Network is simple with a homepage, a page for search results, and a page for therapists to sign up for the directory or log in. While it lacks additional content or resources, The Gottman Institute as a whole has a large website with additional resources like a blog, a podcast, and information about events and training.

The company’s active social media presence spans multiple platforms with an average of 700,000 followers. While there isn’t a page specific to the Referral Network, The Gottman Institute steers users toward the directory in the company’s Instagram bio. However, it’s interesting that the directory does not link back to The Gottman Institute nor its additional resources to try to familiarize therapy seekers with the Gottman Method. 

Searching for a Therapist

The process of finding a therapist in this directory is straightforward. The website utilizes location services to feature clinicians in your state immediately upon arrival to the homepage, though if your settings are set to conceal your location, you can manually enter your state to get a list of clinicians without navigating multiple pages. You can also search based on your city, zip code, or by name of the therapist. 


Checkboxes allow therapy seekers to quickly mark the specialties they are looking for and adjust search results as necessary. Many users described the process of searching as easy or convenient. 

However, the available search filters appear limited. You can adjust results based on the therapist’s specialties, such as infertility, LGBTQ, or sexual dysfunction. Users can also specify the services they seek, such as online therapy, mediation, family therapy, or marathon couples therapy (which refers to six-hour daily sessions for up to three consecutive days).

Therapy seekers can also filter results based on the level of training they prefer in their therapist.  By hovering your mouse over the green question mark beside the filter, information appears about the titles “Certified Gottman Therapist,” “Level 3 Trained,” or “Level 2 Trained.” 

Level 2 Trained therapists have attended a three-day training by Drs. John and Julie Gottman to receive their title. Level 3 Trained therapists have attended an additional three-day training to receive their title. Certified Gottman Therapists receive Level 1, 2, and 3 training in addition to completion of the Certification Track and 1,000 post-graduate clinical hours. 


Of the users we surveyed who tried the Gottman Referral Network, 36% said the website was easy to navigate when looking for a therapist.

On the search page, therapy seekers can view the address, phone number, and training level of the therapists listed. An excerpt of their bio and whether they offer online therapy services is also indicated on the search page. 

After clicking on each therapist’s profile, therapy seekers can view accepted insurance plans, payment options, qualifications, and languages spoken by the therapist.

Each therapist can include a short narrative biography in the “About” section, but from the bios I reviewed, there seems to be a pattern of using generic phrases with a focus on couples work. There is little personality included in the About section, which may be a hindrance for therapy seekers looking for a clinician they feel comfortable with.

Each profile also provides the therapist's availability, but it is unclear how often this is updated. Of the users who tried the Gottman Referral Network, 46% said the availability displayed was inaccurate after they reached out to the therapist. While therapy seekers cannot schedule through the website, they can message most therapists directly. Of the users who scheduled a session with a therapist on the Gottman Referral Network, 44% said the first therapist they contacted responded and had availability.

In addition, 67% rated the qualifications of therapists as good or very good, and 56% were able to find a therapist who met all their needs.

It is worth noting that the Referral Network does not vet therapists directly. However, in order to receive Level 1, 2, or 3 training and be eligible for the directory, clinicians must verify a graduate degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. 

 How Useful Is the Directory for Therapy Seekers?

The Gottman Referral Network provides a great resource for therapy seekers searching for Gottman interventions or relationship counseling. Therapy seekers are overall satisfied with finding a therapist in the directory, with nearly 79% of users rating the service as good or very good overall. 

That said, users were unable to find clinicians with specialized experience like eating disorders or working with the LGBTQIA+ community, nor could they find clinicians with the same religious background as them. It is worth noting that a common critique of the Gottman Referral Network and the Gottman Institute is its lack of diversity in both its practice and research.

“The Gottman Institute is a powerful machine,” Ryan MacLeod, LMFT noted. “I'd like to see them do more LGBTQ work and awareness.” And, while LGBTQ is a specified option in the directory’s search filters, the Gottmans’ research is limited to white heterosexual and same-sex couples. It is unknown how its methods might apply to asexual, polyamorous, or kink-friendly couples. The majority of therapists we interviewed from the directory also identified as heterosexual.

Additionally, “They have also had feedback about programs not being culturally relevant to anyone who isn't white,” according to our subject matter expert Amy Marschall, PsyD. And our research seemed to support this: We reached out to dozens of therapists, but in the end, of those that responded, 100% indicated they were white.

In addition, there is a significant lack of research by The Gottman Institute on the BIPOC community and couples of different ethnic backgrounds, which might lead to cultural barriers in accessing services from Gottman-trained therapists.

The lack of diversity is also evident in the directory itself. Our testing found therapists spoke a total of 13 languages, including American Sign Language (ASL) but you’re unable to narrow the search results down by language in the search filters. Thus, it is difficult to effectively search for a therapist who speaks a language other than English. 

We also found that while there are clinicians who offer both in-person and online services, none of the profiles we reviewed included any information about whether their office was ADA accessible or whether they had gender-neutral bathrooms. 

Of the users we surveyed, 71% stated they are still using the therapist they found on the directory, and 53% said it was very likely that they will still be using their therapist six months from now. Additionally, 53% said they were very likely or likely to recommend the directory to others. In addition, 59% said The Gottman Referral Network was much better or better than the other online therapy companies and directories they’ve tried.

The directory also links to the Gottman Institute’s website, which contains a plethora of helpful resources for couples, including a podcast, informational blog, webinars, and events for therapists and therapy seekers interested in learning more about Gottman interventions and improving one’s relational health. Seventy-four percent of users we surveyed said the resources available within the company were good or very good.

The most notable resource on The Gottman Institute’s website is its blog. The Gottman Relationship Blog publishes informational content written by licensed therapists and journalists familiar with the Gottman approach. Blog posts are quick reads and are typically an average of 1,000 words. The posts focus on relational aspects, such as setting boundaries, parenting, or increasing emotional and physical intimacy.

Writers incorporate Gottman techniques, like The Four Horsemen and the Sound Relationship House, into the post. The Sound Relationship House outlines the various components of a healthy relationship, such as shared meaning, trust, and fondness or admiration.

The Small Things Often Podcast, meanwhile, releases an average of three episodes per week, which focus on ways couples can improve their relationship through everyday acts. Each episode is less than five minutes long, so they’re quick bites of useful information. 

How Useful Is the Directory for Therapists?

Therapist directories are only useful to users if they are first helpful to the therapists who decide to join them in order to advertise their services. Thus, we decided to look into how helpful the directory is to the counselors listed. 

Our research found that the directory is most useful for couples therapists who are trained in the Gottman Method. While it is pricier than other directories—therapists pay $30 to $50 per month for their directory membership, depending on their level of training—there is value in how targeted it is.

The directory also offers an initial 30-day free trial for clinicians who want to determine the quality of referrals for themselves. Eighty-six percent of the therapists we interviewed said they found the directory’s value to be very good or excellent in terms of the price. “It's provided me solid leads to cash-pay clients who are motivated to do therapy work,” says Drew Borkovitz, LCSW, CEAP, SAP.

 Final Verdict

Although the Gottman Referral Network is limited in its number of clinicians compared to some of the other directories we reviewed, there is no doubt that it is one of the best resources online for finding a couples therapist. The Gottman Method is still one of the most popular therapy techniques employed by relationship therapists, and you can rest assured that when you use this directory, you are contacting a therapist with extensive training in this specialty. 


To write this review, we conducted original, data-driven research in order to get a full sense of how The Gottman Referral Network helps therapy seekers and therapists connect and how it compares to other popular directories. We started off evaluating around 180 users at each company (4,862 respondents total), collecting data and research on each company, such as when it was founded, the number of therapists it lists, what states it serves, and more. We also interviewed or surveyed a minimum of 10 therapists listed in each directory about their experience using it, including how it has affected their caseload and whether they’d recommend it to their colleagues. 

Next, we tested each directory ourselves by searching for therapists who might be appropriate for 37 different but common reasons why someone might be looking for a therapist, looking at how well the website is able to meet needs for accessibility, cultural sensitivity, various conditions, and more. 

We then asked our three subject matter experts, Amy Marschall, Nic Hardy, and Hannah Owens, to score these testing results to get a sense of the directory’s search functionality and ease of use. We also sent a questionnaire to each company, though not all companies responded.

1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. JMFT. Research on the Treatment of Couple Distress.

By Riley Blanton
For over six years, Riley Blanton has written stories about mental health, women’s rights, as well as pregnancy and postpartum. She is passionate about maternal mental health and founded the site, Postpartum Brain, to educate and encourage people about perinatal mental health. Riley’s articles are published in verticals like Healthline, Motherly, and more. Read more of her work on perinatal mental health here.

Edited by
Hannah Owens
Hannah Owens

Hannah Owens is the Mental Health/General Health Editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is a licensed social worker with clinical experience in community mental health.

Learn about our editorial process