The Ways We Love: A Developmental Approach to Treating Couples

Overview

This innovative volume delineates a developmental theory of love relationships that provides a comprehensive framework for treating couples. Drawing on 30 years of clinical experience, Sheila Sharpe conceptualizes marriage and other committed partnerships as comprising multiple patterns of relating that develop over time in a parallel, though interconnected, fashion. Seven universal patterns of intimate relating are identified: nurturing, merging, idealizing, devaluing, controlling, competing for superiority, and...

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Overview

This innovative volume delineates a developmental theory of love relationships that provides a comprehensive framework for treating couples. Drawing on 30 years of clinical experience, Sheila Sharpe conceptualizes marriage and other committed partnerships as comprising multiple patterns of relating that develop over time in a parallel, though interconnected, fashion. Seven universal patterns of intimate relating are identified: nurturing, merging, idealizing, devaluing, controlling, competing for superiority, and competing in love triangles. In this multifaceted formulation, each pattern has its origins in early development, is reworked in different ways throughout life, and expresses everyone's basic needs for both connection and separateness. The book describes common problems that couples encounter in the normal development of each pattern, as well as the kinds of defensive interactions that result when a couple's development is more seriously disrupted. Guided by this framework, clinicians learn ways to precisely assess and more effectively treat couples experiencing a wide range of difficulties. Clear, vivid clinical illustrations bring to life the entire process of therapy and demonstrate how the therapist's emotional reactions may be used to enhance treatment.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book demonstrates that Sharpe is among the most creative and astute couple therapists of our era. Her developmental perspective allows therapists to move beyond a pathologizing stance, and to find a perspective that makes day-to-day stressors more readily understood. Clear and engaging, this book will undoubtedly be useful for both seasoned and less experienced therapists. I have used the book extensively as a text in graduate courses, and my students describe it as practical and inspiring. As a resource to recommend to clients, including new parents and other couples at critical junctures in their lives, The Ways We Love is reassuring and thought-provoking."--Judith Siegel, PhD, Ehrenkranz School of Social Work, New York University

"This engaging, nourishing text offers a well-balanced meal for clinicians and couples. Sharpe calls on her years of clinical experience to identify seven themes in couple relationships--nurturing, merging, idealizing, devaluing, controlling, competing for superiority, and competing in love triangles. Illuminated are the developmental histories of these themes, their adaptive and pathological dimensions, and their consequences both for the relationship and for the partners as individuals. Countering a trend toward oversimplification in this field, Sharpe appreciates complexity. She is remarkably open about her own emotional reactions and evocatively descriptive of her patients' experience. The treatment model elaborated here should be of practical use to both therapists and clients." --Robert Winer, MD., The Washington School of Psychiatry

"The variety and range of relationship difficulties traverse many kinds of distress, defying attempts to organize them into categories. This groundbreaking book graphically illustrates, from a developmental perspective, the manifold ways partners express their relational pain. Sharpe advances the field of couple therapy by delineating seven universal, clinically meaningful patterns of intimate relating. Based on many years of experience treating couples, the book demonstrates rare clinical sophistication. One aspect is a particular gift--Sharpe's honesty and openness in revealing the personal thoughts, feelings, and frustrations that come up for her as a therapist dealing with very difficult situations. The book is easy to read and the case histories are fascinating." --James L. Framo, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, United States International University

"Psychoanalysis has concerned itself largely with the development of individuals--and only through the period of adolescence. Sheila Sharpe stretches the psychoanalytic canvas to make space for a developmental model of intimate partnerships. A superbly attentive clinician, she graphs her new schema for us with precision and wit." --Deborah Anna Luepnitz, PhD, author of The Family Interpreted: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and Family Therapy

"This book demonstrates that Sharpe is among the most creative and astute couple therapists of our era. Her developmental perspective allows therapists to move beyond a pathologizing view, while allowing for a full integration of object relations and systems concepts. Her approach to couples work invites us to view the couple's struggles with dignity and compassion. She portrays couples and her work with them in an honest, revealing manner, and, unlike many therapists, recognizes and responds to the impact of day-to-day stressors. The book is clear, engaging, and will undoubtedly be useful for both seasoned and less experienced therapists. I also plan to use it as a text in the graduate-level couples courses I teach." --Judith Siegel, PhD, Associate Professor, Ehrenkranz School of Social Work, New York University

Psychiatric Services

"A sophisticated yet eminently readable piece of work....Devoid of jargon and beautifully laced with instructive clinical vignettes. It can be read profitably by any practitioner who works with families or couples."--Psychiatric Services
The Psychoanalytic Quarterly

"This book provides us with the first comprehensive theory of the normal development of love relationships and an associated treatment approach....I have found Sharpe's model to be a tremendous aid in assessing and treating couples."--The Psychoanalytic Quarterly
Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy

"An excellent resource....This presentation captures the complexity of actual couples therapy and gives the reader the opportunity to get to know the case study couples more completely in both their difficulties and their relational repair work."--Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593850197
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2004
  • Series: Guilford Family Therapy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Sheila A. Sharpe, PhD, specializes in psychotherapy with couples and individuals in private practice in La Jolla, California. Dr. Sharpe teaches in the Advanced Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program of the San Diego Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and has published and presented widely on couple therapy.
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Read an Excerpt

Contents
Introduction
I: Patterns of Connection
NURTURING
1. The Foundation of Loving
2. Cultural Myths and Marital Malnourishment
3. The Development of Nurturing: Common Treatment Problems
4. The Caretaker and the Needful Child: A Nurturing Collusion
MERGING
5. Closeness as Oneness
6. The Development of Merging: Common Treatment Problems
IDEALIZING
7. The Bedrock of Passion
8. The Development of Idealizing: Common Treatment Problems
9. The Adoring Parent and the Adorable Child: An Idealizing Collusion
II: Patterns of Separateness
DEVALUING
10. "You're No Good!"
11. The Development of Devaluing: Common Treatment Problems
12. The Judgmental Parent and the Guilty Child: A Blaming Collusion
CONTROLLING
13. Who's in Charge?
14. The Development of Controlling: Common Treatment Problems
COMPETING
15. Who's Better and Vying for Love
16. Winning, Losing, and Gender
17. Competing for Superiority: Development and Common Treatment Problems
18. Competing in Love Triangles: Development and Common Treatment Problems
19. Love Triangles in Couple Therapy
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Table of Contents


Introduction
I: Patterns of Connection
NURTURING
1. The Foundation of Loving
2. Cultural Myths and Marital Malnourishment
3. The Development of Nurturing: Common Treatment Problems
4. The Caretaker and the Needful Child: A Nurturing Collusion
MERGING
5. Closeness as Oneness
6. The Development of Merging: Common Treatment Problems
IDEALIZING
7. The Bedrock of Passion
8. The Development of Idealizing: Common Treatment Problems
9. The Adoring Parent and the Adorable Child: An Idealizing Collusion
II: Patterns of Separateness
DEVALUING
10. "You're No Good!"
11. The Development of Devaluing: Common Treatment Problems
12. The Judgmental Parent and the Guilty Child: A Blaming Collusion
CONTROLLING
13. Who's in Charge?
14. The Development of Controlling: Common Treatment Problems
COMPETING
15. Who's Better and Vying for Love
16. Winning, Losing, and Gender
17. Competing for Superiority: Development and Common Treatment Problems
18. Competing in Love Triangles: Development and Common Treatment Problems
19. Love Triangles in Couple Therapy
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