Couples will be treated with genuine respect and empathy. Each individual will be invited to participate equally, fully, in conversations designed to create a safe place in which to share concerns, hopes, and ideas, and to participate in the development of lasting change.
How might our couple conversation start?
Once we have established a safe, respectful atmosphere, I may start our conversation by exploring with each of you how challenges and concerns entered your life and the life of your loved ones, and what has been attempted to make change and restore health and happiness. Some specific examples might be:
‘Do you think the problems in the relationship(s) are more to do with things inside or things outside the relationship(s)?’
This question helps to open up ways of thinking about the relationship that lessen the tendency to think problems are simple and simply solved. Close questioning about the social context of your challenges opens up avenues that feel more manageable and seem potentially more receptive to change than fixed definitions of difference.
‘What do you notice about other relationships that is like or unlike your own?’
This question invites a curiosity about other relationships and offers the couple the chance to identify their relationship expectations.
Almost all couples I see think that their relationship is much worse than others they know, though when asked how they know, it turns out to be mostly guesswork.
‘When your relationship does improve, which of you will be more likely to have changed?’
I might ask this question to invite both of you to wonder about the possibility of a different experience with one another, and to offer the perspective of a relationship as a work in progress and change as inevitable. Our work together can then be characterized as facilitating a change process that has become temporarily stuck and needs moving.
‘Did you learn anything in your own family that has helped or hindered you in this relationship?’
By asking about family history, I explore each of your perceptions about the connection between your past and the present. Some individuals see earlier family life as very influential on present life and some do not. I want to understand your ideas about connections and work as far as possible within that.