Loretta and Bart come to you for marriage counseling. In the first session you see them as a couple. Loretta says that she can't keep going on the way they have been for the past several years. She tells you that she would very much like to work out a new relationship with him. He says that he does not want a divorce and is willing to give counseling his "best shot." Loretta comes to the following session alone because Bart had to work overtime. She tells you that she has been having an affair for two years and hasn't yet mustered up the courage to leave Bart for this other man, who is single and is pressuring her to make a decision. She relates that she is feeling very discouraged about the possibility of anything changing for the better in her marriage. She would, however, like to come in for some sessions with Bart because she doesn't want to hurt him.
· What would you be inclined to say to Loretta based on what she has told you privately?
· Would you be willing to work with Loretta if her aim was to continue her affair and keep her marriage? Why or why not?
· How would your views on extramarital affairs influenced the interventions you made with Loretta and Bart?
· Would you encourage Loretta to divulge what she had told you privately in a later session with Bart? Why or why not?
· Would the element of "the other man" pressuring Loretta to make a decision have a bearing on your intervention in this case?
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This is an interesting vignette, which you could answer in many ways. I think the main thing is to be reflective and think about why you have answered in the way that you have. How do you feel about the major elemets (e.g., Loretta having an affair), what are your personal opinions on this and how will you stop them from interfering in the therapy? Think about the situation if you actually were the therapist - would you let your personal views enter the therapeutic situation - or would you try and 'leave them at the door?'
It is very important for a therapist (of any orientation) to leave their personal opinions and experiences at the door when working with clients. This is so the therapy session will be about the client and not therapist! Personal views can also cloud the therapy and mean that a therapeutic relationship is difficult to achieve.
The response that you give in your essay very much depends on the therapeutic orientation of the marriage counsellor. Most marriage counsellor's tend to be from a humanistic 'person centered' approach, which was advocated by Carl Rogers (1946). This approach suggests a non-directive form of counselling with clients. This approach emphasises a non-judgemental stance of the therapist in order to achieve 'unconditional positive regard' with clients.
1. I think that ...
A scenario is examined.