Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Couples Skills: Making Your Relationship Work

Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Couples Skills: Making Your Relationship Work

Article excerpt

Couple Skills, The Video is based on the book, Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work, by Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning, and Kim Paleg. In this enactment of couple therapy, Julie and Alex Anderson (played by professional actors) seek help for their relationship from Matthew McKay. They are stressed, always arguing, and have stopped listening to each other. Otherwise, they are portrayed as healthy and likable thirty-something middle-class Caucasian Americans with professional jobs and interests. The video, which was shot on location in Southern California, spends as much time examining couple dynamics outside of couple therapy as it does showing the couple working with McKay. This portrayal makes the couple's lives seem realistic. An audience can quickly identify with dynamics occurring within the marriage as well as the interventions made in therapy.

McKay points out problems within the couple's relationship, such as derailing (i.e., getting off the subject), discounting, and blaming. He instructs the couple to invite one another to talk and clarify what is happening with the other person. They are to do so by asking questions, acknowledging, and paraphrasing. McKay emphasizes certain therapeutic phrases the couple can use, such as having Julie or Alex say, "Is that right?" or "I understand." McKay also points out to the couple that what they say is divided into facts and feelings. He emphasizes that each member of the couple try to differentiate facts from feelings and use "I" messages instead of "you" statements. …

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