Couples Therapy in Social Work Practice Capstone Project

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¶ … Therapy

Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy in Social Work Practice

Part-1 Discussion of the Issue

Attachment and Sexual Engagement in Couples

Empathic Joining

Practical Implications of the Research

Character from Movie World:

Emotionally Focused Therapy and Blamer Softening

Possible reactions/assumptions/counter transferential issues

Couples Therapy in Social Work Practice

Couples therapy and family therapy are branches of psychotherapy. Couples therapy focuses on families and couples involved in intimate relationships; who are experiencing serious relationship difficulties. There are many issues that can be discussed in any relationship. This is especially true for couples. The basic goal for this kind of therapy is to strengthen the relationship resulting in healthy relationship patterns. It is difficult for any couple to keep the relationship stable in times of serious arguments, even though, arguments are beneficial in certain situations.

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Over the last 20 years, couples therapy has changed from primary, behavioral and cognitive approaches to theories emphasizing emotions, empathy, acceptance, and vulnerability (Jacobson & Crhistensen, 1998; Johnson, 2004). This paper addresses the issue of conflicts among couples and discussing empathic joining. In the first section of the essay, author has presented the issue in detail, describing its importance to social workers offering evidence from research literature. The second section will explore the practical implications of the research information through its application on hypothetical prospective clients. For this purpose the author has selected the famous Hollywood couple Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie.

Part-1 Discussion of the Issue

TOPIC: Capstone Project on Couples Therapy in Social Work Practice Assignment

There are many issues couples face such as dealing with children and parenting i.e. disagreements about parenting, conflicts about any child, disloyalty as well as sexual difficulties. Disloyalty is one of the most prominent issues these days. There may be no particular reason for being disloyal or cheating one's partner, still many people involved in an intimate relationship tend to cheat on their partners. This results in ending the relationship due to trust issues. One very rare but important issue present in the relationship is domestic violence. The presence of violence can make it difficult for the couple to identify the root cause of the problem (Thyer & Wodarski, 1998).

The main conflict discussed is the disagreement among couples particularly focusing on sexual difficulties. This is very common within couples and requires much attention by researchers. There may be disagreements between the couples for how often they should have sex, when and where, and also what activities they should be conducting. Ronen and Freeman (2007) mention complications may arise as one partner may want to have sex after fight to make up and the other would prefer to have it when the fight has been resolved.

Attachment and Sexual Engagement in Couples

From research, it is evident that attachment and sexual engagement are two interrelated terms. The strategies associated with attachment have difficult needs and requirements in accordance to the couples in terms of their individual and personal need for attention and affection. Thus, sexual behavior is most likely to take a form of protest as stated by Shaver et al. (2008). At the same time, individuals who suffer from psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and stress are most likely to engage in sex in order to get a partner's comfort and keep away from rejection (Shave et al., 2008). On the other hand, couples that are happy identify sex as the main motivator for their relationship.

Healthy sex and sexuality can be viewed in different perspectives. In general terms, couples gain security and experience feelings of attachment by means of sexual contact (Simpson, 2000). On the contrary couples who do not engage in regular sex feel insecure further leading to anxiety. Individuals who experience anxiety are often termed as undependable and unreliable. These individuals do not believe sex to play an important role in couple's togetherness (Simpson et al., 2002). Such individuals are most likely to avoid affectionate gestures and people's sympathy.

Empathic Joining

Empathic joining proves to be a useful therapy for the sexual problems among couples. People have expressed empathy in the way they respond to each other's self-disclosures. Perceptions of the partner's responsiveness or the sense of being accepted by the partner creates a sense of intimacy between the couple (Laurencea et al., 1998).

Couples who lack empathy and intimacy express significant marital distress, therefore, are required to seek marital therapy. These couples have been likely to show aspects of what have become known as "the four horsemen of the apocalypse": contempt, critics, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These four factors are predicted to be important measures of divorce (Gottman & Levenson, 1992). Jacobson and Christensen (1998) noted that spouses seeking marital therapy tend to focus on their incompatibilities, try to coerce the other to change, blame the other for the problems in the relationship, and further polarize in their differences. They do not provide any empathy, understanding, or compassion for each other repeatedly representing blame, anger, and pain.

One of the key therapeutic goals of couple's therapy is to introduce feelings of compassion, empathy, intimacy, and understanding removing feelings of blame, defensiveness and guilt. Various couple's therapies are used by therapists. These include emotionally focused couple therapy, psychoanalytic couple therapy (Livingston, 2004), and collaborative couple therapy (Wile, 2002). Couple therapies are known to promote empathy and help spouses to validate each partner's experience in how their own behaviors are affecting the partner. In addition, intimate safety may have played a significant role in whether the promotion of empathy creates more marital satisfaction (Cordova, 2005).

Part-2

Practical Implications of the Research

Character from Movie World:

Couples therapy plays a great role in the movie world. An example is the star couple of the Hollywood; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, they are considered to be the most attractive couple in the world. Both were married at the peak of their career. Before marrying Angelina, Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston for about five years, and then got divorced. He got the opportunity to work with the famous and the most beautiful Angeline Jolie. Now they have six children naming Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne of which two are their own and others adopted by Angelina.

There have been rumors in the past about the couple being divorced. Many people regard this is relation to the couple's parenting and social reasons, however, this paper discusses problems regarding their sexual life. Still the couple has not confirmed to separation. People argue that Brad Pitt had to regain the sense of freedom which was lost after getting married to Angelina Jolie. This issue is often raised in couples especially when an individual does not respond or act to the partner's desires. The sense of freedom and independence is usually more apparent in the male partner of the couple.

Another cause for the couple's split is being regarded to the fact that women can become more demanding at times. According to the U.S. weekly magazine, Brad and Angelina's break up has been a result of Angelina expressing a demanding nature towards Brad. Couple differences lead to an imbalanced sexual life and an unhealthy relationship.

Disloyalty is yet another factor influencing couples' break up as observed in Brad and Angelina's case. It is news casted by reporters that Brad was seen with his ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston; perhaps trying to get back together. Thus, this issue raised a conflict among the couple and now the situation seems that they are not in a good relation. Basically, it is concluded that Brad and Angelina are no more enjoying a healthy relation which is greatly affecting their sexual life in negative directions.

Emotionally Focused Therapy and Blamer Softening

As discussed earlier, empathic joining is a therapy for couples who are having problems in their relationship regarding disloyalty and sexual life. In Brad and Angelina's case, emotionally focused therapy can be applied to improve their relationship and resolve conflicts. Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) was developed in response to years of negligence of emotions in a couple (Johnson & Denton, 2002). It has been shown by numerous studies to be effective in improving couple satisfaction. (Dandeneau & Johnson, 1994; Goldman & Greenberg, 1992).

Johnson and Denton (2002) explained that the specific goal of EFT has been to create a secure attachment bond leading to more empathy and understanding diminishing negative interactions between partners. The EFT intervention most applicable to the process of promoting empathy has been blamer softening (Johnson, 2004). Blamer softening is identified as one intervention to the problems faced by couples. Johnson and Denton (2002) explains the blamer softening as the partner who blames more making the other partner feel more vulnerable or "soften" demanding that partner to help meet the needs. The blamer softening process has been a key change event in EFT and has resulted in recovery from relationship distress for many couples (Johnson & Greenberg, 1988).

The previous research has supported this intervention as helpful. The outcome for successful couples, as assessed by the structural Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB; Benjamin, 1974), showed that the blaming spouses moved from… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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