Hear Me Out: Communications Probs 101

Sam Garanzini & Alapaki Yee from Gay Couples Institute

February 5, 2019

Alapaki Yee


Do you need relationship advice? Listen Tuesdays to Let's Go There with Shira and Ryan as we invite our favorite therapist Alapaki Yee and Sam Garanzini from Gay Couples Institute. 


In 2007, Alapaki Yee and I were two years into our relationship. What most people don’t know is that when you’re dating another therapist, you like to surprise each other with continuing education. Romantic, I know. Couples can complete the units together, and sometimes turn a work trip into a short vacation.

For my 30th birthday, we attended The Gottman Institute’s The Art and Science of Love workshop for couples in Seattle. I loved learning about the research findings and the Gottman tools and communication techniques. We enjoyed doing the exercises together.

The only problem in our mind was that we were one of three same-sex couples in a room of three hundred heterosexual couples. So, we wanted to see if there were any differences between outcomes for same-sex and heterosexual couples.

10 years after that first workshop, we are proud to share the exciting results of the first outcome research study on couples therapy with gay and lesbian couples.


Creation of the Gay Couples Institute

After we completed the Gottmans’ workshop, Alapaki and I went back to our hotel to start planning, and after several hours of dreaming and writing, the Gay Couples Institute was created. For our clinical approach, The Gottman Method seemed like a logical choice, so we continued working toward becoming Certified Gottman Therapist.  I went on to become a Gottman Trainer, teaching Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy.

In 2008, the Gay Couples Institute served approximately 200 couples. We hired staff to create a group practice that could focus on couples communication techniques, as well as addiction, parenting and families, sex and sexuality, and strategies for gay and lesbian singles wanting to date.

The Therapy

The therapy consisted of at least nine to eleven sessions of Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Eight different therapists participated in the treatment study. All had varied therapy experience, Gottman training experience, and sexual orientations. We found that these variables did not influence outcomes.

Three domains of same-sex relationships were addressed in treatment — conflict, friendship/intimacy, and shared meaning— but not in any predetermined order. Interventions were selected in each session based entirely on the emotional concerns the couple brought into each session.

To your success,

Sam Garanzini, LMFT, LPCC | Alapaki Yee, LMFT 

Certified Gottman Couples Therapists



Sam (Salvatore) Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists, and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute, which now delivers couples therapy to over 200 couples per year across the United States.

Sam is also an adjunct professor in the Counseling Psychology Department at the University of San Francisco.

Alapaki Yee is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and has treated several hundred couples in over a decade of clinical practice.

Last year, Sam, Alapaki, and John and Julie Gottman published the first and only outcome study of the Gottman Method, which happened to show the success of the Method with gay and lesbian couples.