I’ve been overdoing my exploration about the “relational paradigm”. I’ve been reading, writing, integrating & putting into practice Imago & Psychodrama ideas about systems and the locus of therapy.
So I thought I’d give myself a break and read a thriller.
Blinded by Stephen White, who I have read before & enjoyed.
I am only a few minutes into it and there are passages that stimulate me right back into my work passion, no rest!
I will quote them here and share my reflections.
I’d first met Gibbs and her husband, Sterling, when they came to see my clinical psychology partner, Diane Estevez, and me for therapy for their troubled relationship. Diane and I saw them conjointly—a quaint, almost anachronistic therapeutic modality that involved pairing a couple of patients with a couple of therapists in the same room at the same time—for only three sessions. Ironically, with therapy fees being what they are and managed care being what it is, Diane and I hadn’t done a conjoint case together since that final session with Gibbs and Sterling Storey.
Quaint? Perhaps the two therapists mode is but the conjoint word also applies to simply seeing people together. This is the “locus of therapy” that is on my mind. There is a lot of conjoint therapy done in that sense. What is not so common is seeing the relationship as the ‘protagonist’ and also as the therapeutic agentp in therocess. That is a two fold meaning of the phrase “locus of therapy”.
I didn’t need copious notes to remind me
that Diane and I hadn’t been all that helpful to Gibbs and Sterling.
Couples therapy is not individual therapy with two people. It is a whole different animal, more closely akin to group therapy with a radioactive dyad. Issues within couples aren’t subjected to the simple arithmetic of doubling; problems seem to be susceptible to the more severe forces of logarithmic multiplication. Therapeutic resistance in couples work, especially conjoint couples work, isn’t just the familiar dance between therapist and patient. Instead, a well- choreographed routine between husband and wife takes place alongside every interaction between either client and either therapist. Each marital partner knows his or her steps like an experienced member of a ballroom dancing pair. She retreats as he aggresses. He surely demurs as she swoons.
A couples therapist needs to learn everyone’s moves before he or she can be maximally effective.
I like this phrase a lot:
“It is a whole different animal, more closely akin to group therapy with a
This shows he is seeing the group nature of a couple, but also seeing that there is a qualitative difference in the relationship when it is a “committed loving relationship” marriage or de-facto marriage.
This has been on my mid a lot as I have been reading Moreno – he often (but not always) thinks of relationship therapy as a group process, involving all significant others. This is quite distinct from Imago, where the relationship is seen as a covenant of interlocking character traits, an unconscious dynamic which is both the source of pain and healing.
“Issues within couples aren’t subjected to the simple arithmetic of doubling; problems seem to be susceptible to the more severe forces of logarithmic multiplication. ”
Quite right. It is a breeze working with one person or persons not entangled radioactively.
“A couples therapist needs to learn everyone’s moves before he or
she can be maximally effective.”
Not quite. This is where it is vital to place the locus of therapy back in the couple, in the sense of trusting that the healing process will unfold in their dance. Not to try to do their dance for them, one step ahead.