Nicole and Tanya have two main issues that the therapist has to address for their relationship to work. Tanya has been hesitant to tell her parents about her sexual orientation and her lifestyle because she is afraid that they will reject her. Nicole, on the other hand, does not understand why Tanya cannot tell her parents about them, and especially when they are about to start a family and become more serious. This paper will review two main intervention approaches or techniques that the psychologist can use to help them establish a successful relationship.
There are two types of intervention techniques that a therapist can use to help this couple. These two include emotionally focused therapy and integrative behavioural couple’s therapy. The integrative behavioural couples therapy is an approach that is derived from behavioural couples therapy technique that usually puts much of its efforts not only on change of behaviour but also puts a substantial amount of focus on the acceptance of the problem that is impossible or difficult to change (Christensen & Heavey, 1999). In the case of Tanya and Nicole, their problem is that Nicole feels unaccepted by Tanya because she has not come out to her family fully about their relationship. Tanya feels pressured because she feels like her family might reject her if she does as Nicole is asking.
The therapist may help this particular couple to reformulate its challenges as differences other than deficiencies in order for the therapist to promote acceptance. This way, Nicole can understand that people are different, that her parents and Tanya’s are different, and that their reactions might differ. The therapist can use this approach to help the couple express some of their most vulnerable feelings that usually lie behind most behaviors (Christensen & Heavey, 1999). For instance, Tanya has fears that she might lose her family forever if she ever tells them of her lifestyle and sexual orientation. The therapist must make Nicole understand these feelings and fears so that she eliminates her fears that Tanya is hesitant with the news because she is not committed. This can also make Tanya understand Nicole’s fears.
This approach is also useful as it helps the couple carry out an analysis that is objective of the problematic patterns mist couples experience. Additionally, the technique can be beneficial in reenacting of behavior that is undesirable in a manner that increases and develops tolerance. This way, the couple can learn to be patient with each other, and can learn to tolerate each other. Therapists have designed these strategies to increase and promote acceptance between couples, and they may foster change indirectly in the problematic area and increase the closeness between the couple (Christensen & Heavey, 1999).
Emotionally focused therapy, on the other hand, explains the distress experienced in relationships with the use of the attachment theory, rather than through changing behavior (Greenberg & Johnson, 1988). This approach involves the identification of interaction cycles that are problematic between partners and the emotions basing these cycles. Therapists believe that distress experienced in relationship arises when bonds of attachment are disrupted or when these bonds have not been fully developed, resulting to couples engaging in rigid and tensional interactional patterns that prevent closeness. This kind of therapy works to help such couples recognize their experience in emotions in the restructure and relationship their interactions form in order to come up with a relationship that is more satisfying. The therapists and the couple work hand in hand to redefine and reprocess the relationship in a manner that it allows them a closer and secure attachment base for their relationship (Jacobson& Christensen, 1996).
Christensen, A. & Heavey, C. L. (1999). Interventions for Couples. Annual Review of Psychology 50:165–190.
Greenberg, L. S. & Johnson, S. M. (1988). Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. New York: Guilford Press.
Jacobson, N. S. & Christensen, A. (1996). Integrative Couple Therapy. New York: Norton.
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