The self in the couple relationship: part 1
Taylor and Francis
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of International, Cultural and Community Studies
This paper discusses the importance of the ‘good-enough’ development of the core self in the couple relationship. It argues that difficulties in the development of the self-lie behind a significant number of troubled couple relationships. Part 1 focuses on individual psychotherapy and how changes to the core self are often attended by shifts in the marital relationship. It traces how this occurs through clinical material and analyses what kinds of changes to the self are needed for the couple relationship to function well. Psychodynamic theory is used to understand the core changes over time and how these are related to significant second-order change in the couple relationship. The construct of the ‘transitional space’ is used to theorize the couple relationship. Implications for the practice of individual psychotherapy are discussed. In Part 2, the significance of change in the experience of the self of one or both partners for a successful outcome of couples therapy is discussed, along with the place of work with individual partner(s) in the course of conjoint couples therapy.