Presentation on theme: "Couples Therapy The relationship as the client. Post WW-II history of marriage Economics Shift in type of work due to industrialization Necessity of dual."— Presentation transcript:
Post WW-II history of marriage Economics Shift in type of work due to industrialization Necessity of dual incomes Technology Industrialization Transportation Birth control Social Norms (next slide)
The change in social norms Shift from external, role-oriented criteria (e.g., good worker, provider, mother, wife) to internal criteria of personal satisfaction. Studies of changing themes in popular magazine articles about marriage since the '50s document increased emphasis on self- development, flexible and negotiable roles, and open communication about problems. Surveys show similarly dramatic changes in criteria for "marital satisfaction". These changes reflect increases in individualism and our standard of living, as well as improved contraceptive methods and greater availability of abortions. Could you conceive of staying in a marriage unless you're happy?
Current statistics The American divorce rate has increased dramatically since the mid 19th century (peak in early '80s). Between 50-67% of first marriages end in divorce -- and the failure rate for second marriages is 10% higher. Median duration is 7.2 years. More marriages now end in divorce than death (true since 1974). Couple therapy is a growing industry: From 1,000 licensed marital therapists in 1972 to over 50,000 today. Barely half of couples report significant improvement from therapy (compared to over 75% in individual therapy) -- and a third of those who improve have problems later on (Bray & Jouriles).
Characteristics of “happy” couples Characteristics (John Gottman) foundation of affection and friendship "validation sequences“ ability to resolve disagreements “positive sentiment override” a 5 to 1(or better) compliment-criticism ratio is optimal as the ratio decreases, marriage satisfaction decreases Amount of conflict relatively unimportant (all relationships have conflict) Tolstoy’s adage: “All happy families are alike, but unhappy marriages are unhappy in their own way.”
Distressed couples (Gottman cont.) Engage in a wide range of destructive fighting techniques Personal attacks (name calling) Dredging up the past Losing focus (…and the “kitchen sink”) Tend to resort to the "four horsemen of the apocalypse“ Criticism (more common in women) Defensiveness Withdrawal (more common in men) Contempt
Couples’ interaction styles (Gottman cont.) Three ways of understanding couples’ interaction styles: Validating (optimal) the 5 to 1 ratio (optimal) respect partner's opinions and emotions compromise often resolve problems to mutual satisfaction Volatile arguments, conflict may or may not be resolved Vacillate between heated arguments and passionate reconciliation Avoiding – do not deal with problems at all (agree to disagree) Compatibility of interaction styles sometimes more predictive of relationship success than the style itself
Love is a story (Sternberg) What are stories of love? They are stories about what love ideally should be They play out in our day-to-day experiences in relationships They influence who we are attracted to and who we are compatible with They are a lens through which people experience events How do they form? Stories come from past experiences, thoughts, and feelings about relationships Stories can and do change, but new stories start with old stories Stories are affected by cultural norms
Love is a story (continued) Some examples Asymetrical stories (generally not healthy) teacher-student sacrifice government police investigation (detective/suspect) police investigation horror collection Coordination stories (usually healthier) travel garden:processing | attentionprocessingattention sewing business Narratives fantasy war
Goals of therapy The most-studied form of couple therapy -- Behavioral Marital Therapy Help partners negotiate behavior change Teach more effective communication skills (e.g., active listening, how to argue) Gottman (microskills) Avoid the 4 horsemen and other forms of destructive fighting Focus on and encourage “positive sentiment override” Latest research findings Improving "communication skills" may not be the key to resolving many couple problems (Baucom; Burleson & Denton). Good will between partners may be more important than good communication skills Good language and communication skills can even make bad marriages worse (e.g., keeps problem salient) Several promising new approaches Acceptance therapy (focus on interrupting partners' attempts to change each other) Solution-focused therapy (intervention aims to identify exceptions to the problem and reinforce strengths in the couple's relationship)
Therapeutic techniques Maintain balanced approach (don’t show favoritism) Have members of the couple talk to each other, not the therapist Anticipate backsliding (habits are hard to change)