Corina, a 35 year old female, and Veronica, a 37 year old female, are a lesbian couple that has been in a committed relationship for 5 years. Corina, a recovering drug addict, has not informed her family of her sexual orientation or current relationship. Veronica is a working professional and is open about her relationships. The couple is now attending counselling to address the stress and anxieties affecting their relationship, reportedly resulting from Corina's inability to be open about their relationship. Veronica also reports feeling highly anxious while Corina states that she feels depressed and on the verge of relapse.
Read the Vignette, "Couple," above, and discuss the challenges of relationship building with this couple. Also consider:
1. How would you avoid inadvertently taking sides with one over the other?
2. What specific relationship building strategies would you employ?
3. How would the fact that they are a lesbian couple impact your hypothesizing about this couple?
4. What assumptions, helpful or not, might you have about them and their relationship?
1. The best way to avoid taking sides is to view Corina and Veronica as a couple, who make up a family unit. Based on this perception, the therapist is viewing the couple from the family system's perspective in which they are considered a unit. The primary role of the therapist is a facilitator. The system focuses on normalizing or creating an emotional stable environment for the family as a unit. The goal is to encourage couple to manage their anxiety, and monitor themselves within the system. Bowen developed a theory that points to the family operating as an emotional system that is influenced by previous generations, which governs family life. For instance, according to Bowen, the family emotional system reacts to chronic anxiety in humans, which is a natural part of the struggle between individuality and togetherness. Thus, Bowen's theoretical perspectives can be used to assist the couple to observe and reflect on their functioning and create options for change in the family system (Chambers, 2009).The assessment process from the family perspective will be to reduce anxiety for the couple as a family unit. Bowen postulated that within families, anxiety could be handled through conflicts, adaptation, reciprocal function, triangles, and cutoffs (Chambers, 2009). Triangles are key strategies for maintaining or promoting differentiation in the family.
Hence, one method of detecting increased anxiety in the system is to listen to the triangles (i.e., the presenting problem. Therefore, the therapist would be listening attentively to the couple and not taking sides with one or the other, rather they would recognize the couple as part of a family unit with a shared problem. The focus of therapy is to reduce anxiety by providing a rational un-triangulated ...
This solution discusses a therapeutic session with a couple in a same-sex relationship.