Couple at the core

The idea that couple has a special place in the family system, or the social atom is somewhat obvious perhaps. Murray Bowen makes that claim (see quote below) but the implications go very deep into how we do psychotherapy. If it is the relationship that is central then it puts a new light on attachment. Not to deny the importance of the mother child bond, it is deeply influenced by the mother father bond (or absence of one. The child will have a relationship that mirrors their relationship wit mother. For many years I’ve concretised the parental relationship in individual therapy and this often has a big impact on the client. They can see how their sense of place and their relationships are all influenced by their place in that primary diad.

This quote is from Differentiation of Self in the Therapist’s Family of Origin by Philip Rich

Bowen considers the marital coalition, or the two spouses/parents, as comprising the essentials of the family core, and, accordingly, sees the therapist’s task as that of constituting a new triangle with the two primary family members and the therapist as its members.14 However, the basic principle in this method of psychotherapy requires that the therapist remain emotionally outside of the field of emotions that involves the spouses and, thus, to remain “detriangled.”15 Bowen maintains that it is important that the therapist be a highly differentiated individual in order to remain an emotionally objective observer in the midst of an emotional system in turmoil, while at the same time relating intimately to key people in the system