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Fostering New Relational Experience

Clinical Process in Couple Psychotherapy


One of the most critical goals for couple psychotherapy is to foster a new relational experience in the session where the couple feels safe enough to reveal more vulnerable emotions and to explore their defensive withdrawal, aggressive attacking, or blaming. The lived intimate experience in the session offers the couple an opportunity to gain integrative insight into their feelings, expectations, and behaviors that ultimately hinder intimacy. The clinical processes that are necessary include empathizing with the couple and facilitating safety within the session, looking for opportunities to explore emotions, ruptures, and unconscious motivations that maintain distance in the relationship, and creating a new relational experience in the session that has the potential to engender integrative insight. These clinical processes will be presented with empirical support. Experts from a session will be used to highlight how these processes influence the couple and promote increased intimacy.

Keywords: couples, marital therapy, psychotherapy process, empathy

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Cite This Article

Marmarosh, C. L. (2014). Fostering new relational experience: Clinical process in couple psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, 51(1), 1-6. doi: 10.1037/a0032710



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