Couple Counselling: A Practical Guide

Books

Martin Payne

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
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  • Praise for the Book

    ‘Martin Payne, the writer of perhaps the best British introduction to narrative therapy, presents, in his own words, “a clear, succinct and above all practical guide” to how narrative therapy can be used in the complex area of couple counselling. The book is aimed primarily at individual counsellors and I particularly like the way Martin emphasises the counsellors' transferable skills. The book can also be used as a training tool, as it includes suggested experiential exercises, role plays and discussion topics, together with plentiful and highly relevant examples from Martin's own work. Much of what Martin writes reverberates closely with my own experiences as a systemic psychotherapist using mainly narrative therapy, but borrowing from other therapies where appropriate. I strongly recommend this book to any individual counsellor who wants to work effectively with couples, and also to any couple counsellor who wants to enrich their practice.’

    Barry Bowen, Systemic Psychotherapist, editor of David Epston's recent book Down Under and Up Over – Travels with Narrative Therapy

    ‘This book is well overdue and fills a gap in the market for accessible, pragmatic and sophisticated writing about therapy with couples. Martin Payne manages to make links with other approaches where others see divisions. He describes a clear breakdown of session structures – process and content – together with the detailed exposition of a variety of strategies for more effective practice. This book is inclusive, user-friendly and always loyal to narrative principles.’

    Mark Hayward, Institute of Narrative Therapy

    Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    Dedication

    In memory of my parents, Ted and Em A great couple

    Acknowledgements

    I am grateful to:

    The persons who generously gave me permission to use disguised versions of their counselling as examples of practice;

    My partner and colleague, Mary Wilkinson, who by her reading and detailed commenting on many drafts of the manuscript saved me from the embarrassment of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, repetitive, obscure and wordy phrasing, and my wilder ideas;

    Dulwich Centre Publications for their excellent online library of narrative therapy texts, and permission to quote from their publications;

    Sharon Cawood, Alice Oven, Susannah Trefgarne and other staff at Sage Publications, for their patience and helpfulness.

  • Appendices

    Appendix 1: Memory-Jogger for First Joint Session (Photocopiable)

    All times are approximate

    • Opening moments (10 minutes)
      • First names OK?
      • Confidentiality.
      • Frequency and possible number of sessions.
      • Couple details.
      • Urgent immediate issues? If yes, devote whole session. If no, go to 3.
    • If necessary, address immediate urgent issues (60 minutes)
    • Set up the session (5 minutes)
      • Agree structure of 4/5 below.
      • Agree who goes first.
      • Give out notebooks and pencils.
    • Talk with each in turn, taking notes (15 minutes each)
      • A speaks, B listens, takes notes. Elicit full effects of problem.
      • B comments on As account.
      • B speaks, A listens, takes notes. Elicit full effects of problem.
      • A comments on B's account.
    • Summarize, and name the problem (5 minutes)
      • Summarize, using the persons' own words.
      • Negotiate an externalized, non-blaming name for the problem.
    • Normalize the problem and establish commitment to continue (5 minutes)
      • Reassure realistically (if appropriate).
      • Make sure the couple wish to continue.
    • Explore one or two exceptions to the problem (15 minutes)
      • Use implicit exceptions if possible.
      • If none, elicit exceptions by questions.
      • Ask questions to establish/explore significance of exceptions.
    • Conclude the session (5 minutes)
      • Affirm purpose of the session.
      • Negotiate an exception – noticing task.
      • Arrange next session – joint, or first of two individual sessions?

    Appendix 2: Memory-Jogger for Subsequent Joint Sessions (Photocopiable)

    Appendix 3: Memory-Jogger for Subsequent Individual Sessions (Photocopiable)

    Follow-Up Information

    Suggested Reading

    I hope this short list of texts and other sources will be useful to readers who would like to learn more about narrative therapy. In some instances, I have stated the most easily obtainable source rather than where the text first appeared, for example where a paper in a journal has been reprinted as a chapter in a book. The recommended texts take narrative therapy further than this present book, but for the most part they are less demanding than those written for experienced narrative therapists.

    Introductory Books on Narrative Therapy
    • Morgan, Alice (2000) What is Narrative Therapy? (Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications)

      Alice Morgan's book describes narrative therapy clearly and concisely, illustrating basic theory with practice examples.

    • Payne, Martin (2006) Narrative Therapy: an Introduction for Counsellors, 2nd edition. (London: Sage)

      My book, written specifically for counsellors rather than family therapists, presents narrative theory in detail and discusses many examples of practice. One chapter is partly devoted to couple counselling, with different examples from those used in this present book.

    Books by the Originators of Narrative Therapy
    • White, Michael and Epston, David (1990) Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. (New York: Norton)

      This seminal text includes a chapter on externalizing the problem, with some delightful examples of work with children, and a comprehensive chapter on therapeutic documents.

    • White, Michael (1995) Re-authoring Lives: Interviews and Essays. (Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications)

      This is possibly Michael White's most accessible book. It covers a wide range of theory and practice including the narrative perspective, counselling for abuse, and a follow-up from his previous writing about therapeutic documents. His conversational tone when interviewed is particularly appealing.

    • White, Michael (2007) Maps of Narrative Practice. (New York: Norton)

      A closely written exposition of White's most recent thinking on core narrative therapy practices.

    Texts on Narrative Therapy with Couples
    • Ziegler, Philip and Heller, Tobey (2001) Re-creating Partnership. (New York: Norton)

      Although solution-focused therapy is the main model presented in this engaging and imaginative book, it is integrated with narrative ideas and practices.

    • Freedman, Jill and Combs, Gene (2002) Narrative Therapy with Couples – and a Whole Lot More! (Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications)

      The first, long section of this book is about couple therapy, and is particularly effective in relating it to the social context.

    • Doan, Robert E. (2004) ‘Who really wants to sleep with the medical model?’, Ch. 9 in Shelley Green and Douglas Flemons (eds), Quickies: the Handbook of Brief Sex Therapy. (New York: Norton)

      Doan's chapter contrasts narrative therapy with models that pathologize persons. The whole book is well worth reading, as many of the brief solution-focused practices described by the other contributors can be integrated with a narrative approach.

    The following two texts are discussed in Chapter 8 of this present book:

    • Epston, David (1993) ‘Internalized other questioning with couples: the New Zealand version’, Ch. 9 in Stephen Gilligan and Reece Price (eds), Therapeutic Conversations. (New York: Norton)
    • White, Michael (2004) ‘Narrative practice, couple therapy and conflict dissolution’, Ch. 1 in Narrative Practice and Exotic Lives. (Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications)
    Website and Journal

    The Dulwich Centre website (http://www.dulwichcentre.com.au) is a superb resource for all aspects of narrative therapy. It includes an online library and Michael White's workshop notes, and there is a regular, free, online newsletter.

    Dulwich Centre Publications publishes the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, obtainable from the Centre or from local representatives in many countries, who are listed on the Centre's website.

    Training

    The Dulwich Centre offers a wide range of conferences, courses and workshops in Adelaide, including a diploma in narrative therapy: for details, see http://wwwdulwichcentre.com.au

    Putting narrative therapy training' or narrative therapy workshops' into Google produces a plethora of information on narrative therapy training in many countries.

    In the UK, the following organizations regularly offer workshops and courses run by family therapists/clinical psychologists:

    As this book is in preparation, these and other narrative therapy centres in the UK and the Republic of Ireland are establishing the UK Institute for Narrative Therapy: http://www.theinstituteofnarrativetherapy.com

    Author Contact

    I am always pleased to hear from readers of my books: martin.payne@which.net (website: http://homepages.which.net/~martin.payne).

    References

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