Building a healthy relationship

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Pope, Patricia J.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2000
When couples come to counselling, they often do so because the behaviours that were once successful are no longer working for them. Frequently, these couples have little idea of what actually constitutes a healthy relationship because they have not had an appropriate model. They are often anxious to discover what a healthy relationship looks like. This project has been designed to be used as a supplementary tool in couples' counselling. It is a series of exercises whose purpose it is to facilitate discussion during the process of couples counselling and to challenge client behaviours beyond the confmes of the counselling session. The themes of communication and conflict form the basis of these exercises whose purpose is to provide relevant information about a healthy relationship as well as to give clients an opportunity for skill development and practice. The expectation that clients will regularly complete relevant homework assignments is implicit in the effective utilization of the communication exercises. Furthermore, an emphasis on changing behaviours and cognitions is critical to this process that actively engages clients in the process of their own growth. The exercises deal with topics such as communication skills, effective listening, boundary issues, intimacy and conflict resolution. The degree of client engagement and utility is linked directly to the relevance of the subject matter as well as to the competence and expertise of the counsellor in utilizing the materials. The exercises were developed during counselling sessions with couples and were "tested" with these couples. What has emerged after a vigorous process of organization and reorganization is a series of 18 exercises that can be used by counsellors to facilitate and enhance a counselling process whose goal is to teach clients the skills that will enable them to learn and maintain more positive patterns of behaviour. It must be stressed that the exercises represent a supplementary tool and that good client preparation is essential to both client engagement and relevance. Furthermore, they have been designed to identify and track small behavioural changes that will be immediately recognizable to the clients. Therefore, counsellor affirmation and celebration of small but significant behaviour change is an important element in the incorporation of the exercises into the counselling process. The reality that change can occur even in deeply entrenched relationship patterns is immensely empowering to clients. The role of the counsellor in guiding a process where couples are challenged to think and to act differently cannot be over-emphasized. The nature of the counsellor/client collaboration provides the energy and creativity that will drive the counselling process and maximize the impact of the communication exercises.
vi, 90 leaves ; 29 cm. --
Counseling , Marriage counseling , Man-woman relationships