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A Relational Intersubjective Approach to Conjoint Treatment

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This article updates an earlier version of a model of couples therapy published in 1994 in Volume Ten of Progress in Self Psychology. In this update, three broad themes premise the revised model including: (a) the actualization of self experience in an intimate relationship, (b) the capacity for mutual recognition, and (c) the “relationship having a mind of its own”. This revised model articulates elaborates the original Six Steps. These steps take up the importance of the therapist's attunement to each partners' bi-dimensional transference along with pointing out the couple's “vicious circle” engagements that arise from each partner's selfobject, developmental longings triggering one another's states of repetitive transference. Their unique subjective experiences are further underscored in terms of the epistemological stance of “perspectival realism.” Their perspectives are then contextualized in terms of the impact of their developmental backgrounds. Where attunement is insufficient enactments result that elaborate dissociated self-states making them available for examination. The final steps of the model take up what is both negotiable and nonnegotiable within the partners themselves as well as within their relationship. Ultimately, termination is in evidence to the degree that the couple has internalized the functions of the overall model. It is noted that the Six Steps do not operate in a fixed linear manner rather they function non-linearly working as practice guidelines rather than stepwise rules for the practitioner to follow.
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Keywords: enactments; intersubjectivity; mutual inductive identification; relational psychoanalysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, USA

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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