Most clinical conversations about couple relationship problems occur in individual therapy, not couples therapy. But individual therapy models offer little guidance for how to address relationship problems. The result is that therapists sometimes collude with their client’s view of the partner and offer one-sided narratives of complex relational problems. This doesn’t help the client and can undermine the relationship. Even couples therapists sometimes make the same mistakes when doing individual therapy. This workshop will provide specific tools and guidelines for helping individual clients in the context of their relationship, while avoiding common traps when we are seeing just one member of a couple.
1. Identify warning signs that the therapy isn’t couple sensitive, including attributing negative intentions to the absent partner and expressing pessimism that the partner can change
2. Describe strategies to avoid reflexively siding with the client’s view of the relationship
3. Discuss techniques to support the clients' personal therapy goals while supporting their important relationships
William J. Doherty is an educator, researcher, therapist, speaker, author, consultant, and community organizer. He is Professor and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in the Department of Family Social Science, College of Education and Human Development, at the University of Minnesota, where he is also an adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.