A Beginning Therapy Map for Couples
In working with couples, like individuals each couple is unique with different histories, experiences, issues, concerns and resources.
Effective couple therapy involves ongoing assessment of both individual and couple problems and challenges, the appropriate models and interventions to be used, and the progress in reaching the desired outcomes.
The following is a general map of the territory we may cover in helping you work through your issues and concerns with your partner.
We may deviate from this map or chart new territory as necessary.
The map includes but is not limited to the following:
A. Presenting issues and concerns of each partner or spouse.
B. Feelings of each partner related to the issues and concerns.
C. Beliefs, perceptions and frames of reference of each partner related to the issues and concerns.
D. Assessment by both partners of the current status of their relationship and level of commitment to the relationship.
E. Assessment by both partners of their level of commitment to working together in and out of the therapy towards resolving the issues and concerns of the relationship. This includes the willingness of each partner to accept their part or role in the relationship difficulties.
F. Identifying contributing factors, significant events and problematic patterns that have led to this point of difficulties in the relationship. This includes both individual and relationship factors.
G. Assessing what the partners do to nurture or maintain the couple relationship.
H. Identifying what each partner has done to address the issues and concerns of the other to improve the relationship to this point.
I. Assessing how open and responsive each partner is to the other in expressing their concerns and being understood by the other.
J. Assessing to what extent the relationship processes are functional vs. problematic. Relationship processes include:
- How do their explicit or implicit relationship rules impact each other?
- How does their established relationship roles impact each other?
- How reasonable are their perceptions and expectations of each other and the couple relationship?
- How well do both partners communicate their needs, feelings and desired outcomes to each other?
- How well do both partners deal with differences and conflict that arise in their relationship?
- How well do both partners reach consensus, agreements or make decisions with each other?
- How well does each partner collaborate with the other?
- How well do both partners problem solve with each other?
- How well do both partners respond to requests or concerns of each other?
- How well do both partners empathize with each other?
- How well does each partner manage stressors in their life and the relationship?
- How well do both partners repair or recover in their relationship, as the result of their negative interactions?
- How much do both partners share time, conversation, interests, activities and mutual goals?
- How attached or connected does each partner feel to the other?
- How affectionate are both partners with each other?
- How comfortable are both partners with their level of intimacy?
- How comfortable are both partners with the sexual aspects of their relationship?
K. Assessing the relevant patterns from each partner’s family of origin in the context of the issues and concerns in the couple’s relationship.
L. Comparing the similarities and differences of each partner’s family system in the context of problematic patterns in the couple relationship.
M. Assessing the impact of relevant patterns of each partners’ previous relationships with significant others.
N. Assessing to what extent each partner feels they can be themselves in their relationship with their partner.
O. Assessing to what extent each partner feels the relationship is a good fit for them.
P. Assessing how well the couple can focus on working to bring about individual and couple change and hold each other accountable as they move toward their desired outcomes.
Copyright 2012, A Beginning Therapy Map For Couples by M. Douglas Evans, All Rights Reserved.