Couples seek therapy for a variety of reasons, from short-lived adjustment difficulties to deeply entrenched conflict. Yet marital therapy has lacked a conceptual framework for matching treatment to a couple’s particular problem. This outstanding new book, by a team of researcher-clinicians from the Center for Family Learning, is the first to address this deficiency.The authors systematically assess the duration and intensity of a couple’s present conflict, as well as how the spouses function alone and in their extended families. They have found that troubled couples tend to fall into one of four categories, each best suited to a particular treatment program. The mild conflicts of stage one, for example, respond well to a six-week educational program; whereas the extreme anger and alienation of stage three is best handled without direct confrontation.The authors describe their evaluation and treatment procedures—including assessing multigenerational systems, dealing with triangles, and reducing emotional arousal—and illustrate their explanations with lengthy case illustrations and session-by-session transcripts. Because it offers a carefully articulated, clinically tested method of treating a broad range of marital problems, this valuable book makes a unique and much-needed contribution to the field.
Philip J. Guerin, Jr. is Director of the Center for Family Learning and the editor of Family Therapy: Theory and Practice (1976). Leo F. Fay is Associate Professor of Sociology at Fairfield University and a family therapist at the Center for Family Learning. Susan L. Burden is Director of the Marital Project at the Center for Family Learning. Judith Gilbert Kautto is Director of Postgraduate Education at the Center for Family Learning.