1) What has been happening that you want to change or stop?2) What have you tried before or up to now that has not worked well enough?3) What do you want to happen instead? What do you want to come out of therapy?4) Why now? Why not earlier? Why not wait for later?
1) overt relationship conflicts in the context of clinically elevated couple distress,2) emotional drifting and lack of love in situations where partners' distress is moderate or low, and3) requests for specific adjustments in the context of a well-functioning relationship. (page 138)
a) Conflictual relationship: There is significant distress for one or both partners and overt conflicts and dysfunction. Both partners want the partnership but either don't agree on how to do it or have failed to improve the relationship.b) Lack of love/desire: Despite emotional drifting from one another, but both partner want to save the relationship. Emotional intimacy is absent and their conflict and confrontation tend to be avoided despite incidents and disagreements.c) Generally well functioning relationship that requires specific adjustments: Overall satisfaction with one or both partners concerned that some aspect of their relationship or outside challenge may compromise the existing equilibrium. ((page 141)
There is a lack of development in either or both of the individual partners.They have a repetitive history of re-triggering emotional trauma in each other and not repairing it.They don't have the ability to repair when they hurt or do damage to one another.They lack skills or knowledge.
1) The couple is coming to therapy for change, growth and development.2) They are coming to dissolve the relationship. Therapy is to enable them to say goodbye to one another, to go through a divorce or separation, and to get help with the kids and the parenting. Therapy is part of the process to resolve any resentment so not to fester and impair their future relationship or their parenting.3) They need help making a decision: To stay together or separate; whether to have a child; whether to take a promotion or move; whether to get married or not.
What type of relationship do you want to create? I give them examples to help get them started: "You might say you want to create a loving intimate relationship, a relationship with a lot of team work. You might say you want a more companionate relationship."How do you want to be as a partner? This is asking for a frank self-assessment. How do they in fact want to be? Do they want to be somebody who makes time for the relationship, somebody who wants to negotiate solutions that are working for both people? How do they want to be in their day-in and day-out life?What do you want to learn about yourself or the relationship? This is a request for cognitive knowledge that each partner would like to obtain. An example would be understanding your patterns as a reflection of some early childhood experiences.What do you want to stop doing? Common examples are blaming, name-calling, withdrawing, or avoiding conflict.
1) How did you get the courage to talk to a stranger about your relationship?…couples work carries the risk that your account of your feelings and experiences may be challenged and denigrated by your partner in front of a third person.2) Do you think the problems in the relationship are more to do with things inside or things outside the relationship?This question, and variants of it open up other ways of thinking about the relationship. For example,
How does your work affect your relationship with your family?When your children have problems, do you feel closer or further apart as a couple?Does the frightening state of the world conflict impact on your relationship?Do tensions in your families of origin affect your relationship? (page 62)
Close questioning about the social context opens up avenues that feel more manageable and seem potentially more receptive to change than fixed definitions of difference. This question may also elicit stories of a traumatic event, often the death of a loved one, that offer further reflections on the pain in the relationship, and opportunities for shared and overdue grieving for such a loss can be the most helpful part of couples work. Context questions offer the possibility of locating pain more accurately at its source. We know that in intimate relationships unresolved feelings from elsewhere are often projected onto one's partner. (page 62-63)3) What do you notice about other relationships that are like or unlike your own?This question invites a curiosity about other relationships and offers the couple the chance to identify their relationship expectations.4) If your relationship does improve, which of you will be more likely to have changed?5) Did you learn anything in your own family that has helped or hindered you in this relationship? (page 63)