Couple, Family and Group Work: First Steps in Interpersonal Intervention

Couple, Family and Group Work: First Steps in Interpersonal Intervention

Couple, Family and Group Work: First Steps in Interpersonal Intervention

Couple, Family and Group Work: First Steps in Interpersonal Intervention


Couple, group, and family therapies are usually viewed as three completely different disciplines. In fact, they have much in common. Couple, Family and Group Work reveals the similarities and the real differences among these topics. Employing real-life examples of therapy sessions involving more than one patient, it bridges the gap between psychodynamic and group system approaches and shows one-on-one counselors and therapists how to work with various types of groups.


Couple, Family and Group Work is a beginner's guide to 'interpersonal intervention'–that is, to working therapeutically with more than one person at a time. It deals with couples, families and groups: unfortunately, there is no space in a small book to deal adequately with intervention in organizations, communities and temporary social systems such as conferences and workshops, which share some common features with the more 'clinical' areas of interpersonal work.

Couple, family and group work have all been extensively written about, at levels from the most basic to the most sophisticated. Oddly enough, though, there do not appear to have been many attempts to bring these different areas together in a single text (in fact, I know of none). They have established themselves as largely separate areas of study and professional practice. While some individual therapists also see couples, and many family therapists also see couples, few individual therapists regularly see families. And while some professionals do both individual and group work, they rarely combine it with family or couple intervention. Of course, there are worthy exceptions to all of these generalizations, but they are true for the majority of practitioners.

These divisions are reinforced by the way jobs are organized, and the way mental health professionals are trained. Most psychologists and psychiatrists, and most of those who call themselves counsellors, receive basic training only in individual (one-to-one) forms of intervention. Social workers may be required to study group work and (sometimes) family work in addition to case work, but typically these subjects are taught by different lecturers, who set separate textbooks for their individual courses. Training programmes in family therapy rarely address the skills and principles common to both family 'groups' and groups of unrelated individuals.

To my mind it makes overwhelming sense to introduce students, as well as experienced one-to-one practitioners, to all the main varieties of clinical interpersonal intervention in a single volume, so that both the real differences, and the real similarities, can emerge. Anyone trained solely in one-to-one counselling and therapy will probably feel a certain level of anxiety and . . .

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