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  • Writer's pictureFiona O'Farrell, LMFT

Preparing couples for the unique experience of relational therapy

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

"How come some relational clients make steady progress and others get so stuck?"


Does this statement sound familiar to you?



During my first few years of practice, I often encountered this question. I could work with two couples presenting with similar concerns, and Couple A moved through the work, making significant progress, whereas Couple B just seemed to stay stuck or often got worse. I would do my best to screen and consult with couples before starting to try and suss out the "stuck" couples, then read up on the techniques and strategies I could use to support movement in the therapy process with them. Time after time, I couldn't figure out what it was about Couple B that would lead to therapeutic stagnation. Nothing is more challenging than feeling as if you cannot help a couple with their relationship concerns. For the therapist, it raises personal doubt and a lack of confidence in our skills. 


The Developmental Model helped me to understand client motivation and take the time to prepare couples I work with for the unique experience of relational therapy. 


Adopting a preparation phase with clients helped me to let go of the idea of screening couples in or out or finding the proper intervention to move clients out of their stuckness and instead embrace the process of working with clients to get them ready to do the work that relational therapy will require of them. Establishing this at the beginning of treatment allowed me and my clients to re-visit these concepts throughout our work together and keep them accountable to the process. The Developmental Model provided me with a framework to do this. 


That's the first reason I am excited to bring the Developmental Model to you…to give you a framework to assess client motivation and prepare them for the work you will do together. As a result, I would love for you to have the same relief I received from getting stuck with clients and questioning your abilities. 


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