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Clinical
Handbook
of Couple
Th erapy

Eolrpo ny
ALAN S. GURMAN

fr
THE GUILTORD PRESS
New York London
7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy r97

1. TG theory and TG therapy provide a powerful, TG rnodels have been extended to examine
.. nonhierarchical approach to ftaming and voic- specifrc spousal, family, and larger systems prob-
:, ing problems, and undenunding and working lems: personal authority in marriage and family
wirh couples in disnes. (Williamson, 1981, 1982a, 1982b); family-of-origin
2. ..TG therapy moves beyond immediate symp- consula (Framo, 1976); sexual dysfunction (Hof
.'tom reduction to increase marital resilience & Berman, 1989; Scharff, 1989; Schnarch, 1997);
Transgenerational Cou ple Therapy and prevent future symptoms thnough the fa' unconscious marital contracts (Sager, 1976); une-
cilitation and developmentof intimacy, mutual solved los [iwak-Hirsch & Bu-On, 2006; Paul,
. problem solving, and satisfaction in couples. 1967); genderipower conflicts (Goodrich, 1991;
3. Expansion ofprevious work identifres common Walten, Carter, Papp, & Silverstein, 1988); do'
Launa RosRTo-Fonun bridging concepts among several historical TG mestic violence work (Jory 1998); late'life econ-
schools, working toward a unitary, powerful ciliation (Hargave, 1994; Hargrave & Anderson,
TG model. 192); and multicultural maniages (McGoldck,
4. TG can inform a new generation of heal pro' 198* McGoldrick, Peace, &. Giordano, 1982).
fesionals, who penonally may not have srud' A number of auon have sought specifically to
ied with the departed founders ofTG models or apply feminist ttreory to TG couple therapy (Cart-
ei earlier proponents, about central tenets er & McGoldrick, 1989; Knudson Manin, 1994;
and practices that cn inform their research, Roberto, 192; Valten et al., 1988). Thei ideas
theory and practice with couples. have informed and enriched all of e meods
presented in this chapter' .
The TG erapies formulated in the last half
BACGROUI{D of the 20th century reflected their dme, in that
they stemmed from individual models of human
The major schools of TG thmry and therapy development, normality, and dysfunction The
over the past five decades include natural systems work of early theorisn aimed to observe, describe,
( Bowen) theory symbolic-experiential (Whitakeil and rutructure the context of invidual prob-
theory contexrual (relational ethics, Boszormenyi- lems by looking "one level up" at the strucore of
Transgenerational (TG) therapies were pioneered partners, if only to create a genogram, or to uke a Nagy) theory and some aspecs ofbbject relations e family of origin sunounding, supporting, and
in the 1950s. fu agroup ofmethods, one could say medical or sexual history. Until the late 1970s, is theory (Robeto, 1992; ftharff& Bagrini, 2@2; maintaining the views, values, cultural, religious,
at their development has reached only its early was not standard practice. However, although TG Schaff&. Schaff, 1987; Slipp, 1984; Wachtel & and personal identity, options, mandates, and sub'
adulthood, having experienced a consolidation o{ ideas permeate most marital therapy, TG rherapies Wachtel, 1985). Alough object relations marital jective interpretations of people in therapy. .As we
workin e 199G (Robeno, 1991, 1992; Robeno- ae often not explicitly acknowledged as khool and fami[y erapy (MFT[in iaiiiiulu has been will y, the *insition involved in mihg'one
Forman, 1998, 2002). This chapter reviews major ofthought. more in vogue since the 1980s, all ofthese mod' level upn meant that many TG techniques were
cunent TG theories, relevant research and appli. Tiznsgenerational family process is, as I dis' els are widely used by MFB to explain problems formd to allow a client in individual psychother'
cations, and current techniques in view of what cuss later, a series of unfolding relational dynam- and urform teatment of couples. Cunent object apy to reflect on family-of-origin contexts without
TG therapies offer for couple treaenent.r Couple ics that evolve over the coune of 20-40 yean or relations theory has become more qptemic, striv- e entire farnily berng in the room--+r even e
therapists of every penuasion use at least some more, such as in e concept "adult child of an ing to addres relational problems; even though ia spouse, Over e last 50 yean, TG techniques
TG rools, althou$r ese tools often are not fop alcoholic" (ACoA). This term encapnulates a self- interview sryle focuses on affective, inaapsychic have evolved to include family memben in the
mally recognd as "transgenerational." In fact, definition, idenrity, set of roles and implicit family experience. Cenain kinds of obect relatiors in. psychotherapy proces.
Carl Whimker (1982) once refend to the cenral mandates, and behavioral repertoires at develop terventions, such as holding, interpreting, elicit' I shae the hopefulnes of Johnson and
tenets of TG theory as "univenals." For example, over the course of a child's life up to age 18 and ing unconscious material, fotering integra.tion Lebow (Z@0), who stated in eir decade review
one prestigious training irutitute's most recent beyond. Similuly, the concept of the "memorial of painful memories, and wo&ing through in ofcouple therapy at "we are, perhaps, beginning
training brochure offen a "coaching group" (de- candle" (Vadi, 1990) describes the strong mutual the present, have all been modifed for use with ro build a generic base for couple intervention
frned later in his chapter) for examining the ther- bond between the patent survivor ofgenocide and couples in conjoint therapy. Because object rela- that is less constrained by differences in language"

apist's position rr his or her own family of origin. a chosen child. A small but growing number of tions theory includes family.of.origin material to (p. 33). Howeve over the last 50 yean, each of
As a second example, a suwey reveals that in e qualitative research papen look at the connection undentand marital behavior, sorne of its tenets these four theories has been disseminated in dil
flagship marital and funily erapy joumal Farnill b'eween family-of-origin problems (e.g., alcohol' are included in this discusion (also see Scharff & ferent postgraduate training institutes, different
Process, between its inception in 192 and March ism) and later relationship issues in couples, yet Scharff, Chapter 6, this volume). Although none publications, and even different profesional or'
2007, rhe terms "transgenerational," "intergen- this research is not commonly pulled together of ese major eories has been explicitly named ganizations and conferences. For example, during
erational," and "multigenerational" were cited in under the umbrella of "TG." This chapter aims tnnsgenerational, ey can be gouped together Munay Bowen's years at Georgetown Univenity,
388 articles. In yet another example, most thera- to address that deficit, pulling togeer, compar- as theories that draw on intergenerational (long- his family sptems naining proglam held its own
pisn and health care profesionals routinely assess ing, and combining different TG perspectives on term, slow to change) family processes to explain confeences and symposia, and published its own
and refer to family-oforigin isues when treating couple erapy to demonstrate several points: couples' problems. archives. Although Bowen sewed as a President of

i96
198 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 199

the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA), son) evolves. The team began to look for evidence how stagnant, unresolved family dilemmas colored Sy mbol ic-Experienti a I The ra py
neither he nor Cal Whitaker (the founder of of fusion and triangulation in families whenever a their maniages and views of themselves. Alough
sgnbolic-experiential therapy) presented at psychiatric patient experienced frequent relapses. Carl Whitaker also began working in the 1940s
graduate naining institutes are no longer encour-
AFIlts prestigious annual conference or other Bowen also predicted that if cenain pattems of with adults hospitalized with psychotic symptoms.
aged to allow dual relationships in training, family
family therapy conferences (lvan Boszormenyi- rion are present in a maniage or famil then Tiained as a psychoanab'tic child psychiatrist, a
of origin presentations and experiential leaming
Nagy alone did so). Thus, rhe history of these modifring these pattems in family erapy will contemporary of Murray Bowen, Lyman \ynne,
ae srill highly utilized in advanced erapy ex-
four methods developed within separate groups of lead to improvement in psychotic symptoms and Gregory Bateson, Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, Virgin-
temships and supervision.
writen and institutes at the expense ofdeveloping improved individual resilience ("differentiation"). ia Satir, and Nathan Ackerman, he also worked
Like his contemporaries, Bowen used the
common vocabulaies. Furthermore, each of e After l97, Bowen developed and ex- in public and Veterans Adminisuation hospitals.
genogfirm, an old medical tool for chaning fam-
four models is also based on the work of a highly perimented with methods to difluse family en- Consistent with the predominant androcentric
ily history-but with a twist. He and his tain-
charismatic male founder and his trainees: Narural meshment, to incease individual differences model in the 1940s, his emphasis was initially on
ees mapped symptom-bearers in relation to their
systems theory is based heavily on Munay Bowent and self.focus, and to promote give and take in parenal (especially matemal) dysfrrnction as a
extended families, then looked for intense rela-
work; symbolic-experiential theory on that of family.of-origin relationships (a direction later contributor to relapse. However, he also consulted
tionships and niangles that might be helping to
Carl Whitaker; contextual therap on the work continued by !illiamson [1981] in his theory of at e Oak Ridge atomic reseach facility during
maintain clients'distres. Studenc such as Fogarty
of lvan Boszormenyi,Nagy; and object relations "personal authorty"). Bowen became increasingly (1978) and Guerin (1976) applied the concept of World War II, where he courueled scientists and
erapy on the work of D. tiL tlinnicott. Even interested in the connection between .rsion and triangles to problems of individual despair (emp-
war veterans showing severe stress reactions to the
though TG work is now iq its fourth professional differentiation, and, in one famous appearance, clusied project. This experience gave Whitaker
tiness), disconnection, and eriotional distancing,
"generation" (assuming tlur a younger generation even reported audaciously at a national medical and began to examine specifically the effect of d sense ofhow personal disintegation can be a re-
of trained profesionals moves toward the lead. conference on his own personal experiences in- distancing on maniage. The technique of"coach-
action to intoleable breakdowru of societal order,
ing center of a xierrce every 20 years), literature cresing differentiarion with his family of origin ing" was developed to allow adult individuals and and everyday ethics and norms-what Whitaker
bringing together common concepts and compat- (Anonymous, 1972). This fint reponed use ofself ( 1982, p. 36) latercalled "being driven [as opposed
couples to disengage from family rriangles, control
ible interventions arnong the four models is still in e history of marital and family drerapy had a to beingl crazy." He later emphasized that one goal
distress ("reactivrd'), and create one-on-one re-
quite sparse. powerfirl effect on both Bowen, who hlieved that of therapy is to allow individuals to believe more in
lationships with parents and key family memben.
experiential leaming is potent for profesional, Bowen also saw marital counseling as a way to themselves and their potential, and to extemalize
as well as psychotherapeutig growth, and on the prevent enmeshment problems from emerging be- the forces that lead us to view ourselves as differ-
NatunlSysfems lDeory
audience, whose members srw a new modality tween parents and ei children. ent and marginalized. Extemalization has become
Natural qstems mry (Bowen) developed out of for training in front of their eyes. Ttrough this Eventually, the natural systems group at a centrl feature ofsome rurative therapies.
research observadoru of the interactions in fami- penonal family-of-origin work, Bowen redefined Georgetown created a "think tank" to generalize As a faculty member in the Department of
lies with a rhizophrenic member. While at the differentiation-which had been viewed as an ese frndings on the nature of enmeshment and Psychiatry at Emory Univenity in the 1950s,
National Institutes ofHealth frorn 1954 to 1959, intemal developmenal phenomenon-as a func- triangulation in larger systems. Studena applied Whitaker continud to shift from a psychoana-
Bowen sought to descrih dysfunctional cycles of tion of family tolerance for individual differences the concepts of poor differentiation, sion, and lytic, intemal conlict model of mental illness to
behavior between e parena and e psychotic and*lf.exprrsion. He posited tlut urce set dup "undiffeenrlated egb masi tririgles, and "projec- an inteiactional, systemic model. The"symbolic-
patient (Bowen, 1972/1985b). At that time, he ing rearing, differentiation of slf is very difficult to tion' (of unresolved isues) to less impaired fami- experiential school of TG therapy thus echoes
was looking for a elational buis for the striking incease later n life. This concept has tremendous ufamilies," the same bridging ideas linking individual symp-
lies, workplace social groups, and the
lack of personal boundaries and autonomy of pa. implications for therapiss working with isues of training ofclinicians. This expansion has included toms to larger family dysfunction as does natural
!ien6 with psychodc disorden. He was especially parmer selection and maftrity in couple erapy. consultation in many rypes of wo*places. For ex- systems theory. Unlike later methods, which are
interested in the posible role of family-of.origin A training institute rvas opend at George- ample, Friedman (1985), an ordained rabbi, cre- more problem-, present-, and solution-focused,
enmeshment (and a elated problem of "cutoff') town Univenity in Washington, D.C. Bowen ated a training model for clergy to apply to churchl TG models were created to provide a relational
in the evenoal emergence of schizoptrenia over began to use assignrnenc and family-of-origin vis- synagogue rehtions. Throughout the 1980s and view oflifetime vulnerability and to explain why
generations of a family's life. Bowen subscribed its as training tools with his own pychiauy resi- 190s, groups for clergy were run under his direc- emorional breakdown occurs in one family mem-
to the diathesis-*uess model of psychosis, which dents as a way to teach his model and to address tion to examine the minister's/rabbi's relationship ber rather than othen. Because he was a child
holds that illnesses do not necessarily emerge un- profesional gowth (BowerL 1974). He obsewed with congregational members and boards. The psychiarist (Neill &. Kniskem, 1982; Whitaker
less a person is suessed and cannot mobilize self- that trainees who completed Familyof-origin as- natunl systens model works seamlesly widr geno- & Rrn, 1989), V/hitaker continued to feel at
observation and rlf.regulation skills. signments remed to possess more clinical effec- gram studf because it focuses on recunive, repeti- nonverbal affective experiences are an imponant
Early clinical reseachers looked only at con- tiveness than those trainees who did not. By 1 9? I , tive, chronic cycling of symptoms between mari- avenue to self-awaenes and ruilience. This view
nections berween inpatients and eir mothen. he concludd that work focrsed on creating one- tal garmers, parents, grandparents, and drilden. distinguished hlrn om peen, such as Bowen, who
Later, Bowen began to look at e role of rhe fa- on-one, well-delineated rclationshin with onet After Bowent death, one ofhis principal snrdents, were viewing the same dp;rnctional pattems in
the and th. q*lity of parental marriage as well. parcnts essentially raised one's own level of differ- Michael Ken, took ove direction of their insti- coubled families but emphasized intewention on
Bowen's team observed that in parent-<hild re. entiation, ncreasing a drerapisCs ability to func- tute. The infuence ofrhis rnodel offarnily rnc- the verbal and cognitive level to treat them (Ro-
lationships situations with very highly involved- tion in marriage, parenting, and practice of thera. tioning has also helped to shape e curriculum at beno, 1991, 1992).
low interpersonal boundaries ("enmeshment" py. Tiinees were encouraged to present their own a number of irnponant training institutes, includ- In addition, worting with wlnerable clients
or "fusion"), emotional tensions increase to the families oforigin in classes and conferences, and ro ing programs such as the Multiculoral'liaining such as drilden, wonied parents, and trauma.
point that a'triangle" (inclusion of a third per- enter psychotherapy with their spouses to look at Institute at Rutgen University in New Jeney. related cases at the Oak Ridge faciliry Whitaker
I, MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Tnnsgenentional Couple Therapy 20t

came to believe that couple and family therapy re- 1991), contexoal theory adds a layer offamily ex- theory as were Jaclaon, \ynne, Bowen, Whi- WHAT WE HAVE IEAR]{ED FROM RESTIRCI|

quire a high level ofemotional safery and erapist perience to therapy that is not addressed by oer taker, Boszormenyi-Nagy, Minuchin, Palazzoli,
transparency. Whitaker refened to this as "use of TG models (Robeno, 1992). and Stierlin-many of the originaton of cunent A number of associations have been identified be.
self': the abiliry to respond penonally to the needs In 1957, Boszormenyi.Nagy fornded and marinl and family techniques (Jackson & Lederer, rween family-of-origin relationships and counship/
and concems of clients in therapy. In symbolic- directed the Depanment of Family Psychiatry 1968; Minuchin, Montalvo, Guemey, Rosman, & maniage behavior in sons and daughten. A review
experiential therapy, the role of e therapist is at Eastem Pennsylvania Psychiatric Instirute in Schumer, 197; Satir, 1983; Stierlin, 1981; Palu- of the liteatue shows that the family of origin has
unique: He or she shows multilateral caring raer Philadelphia. Like the workplaces of his peers, it zoli, 1974; Wynne, 1965). In e United States, been shown to pass on a number of marital pat-
an neutrality (Roberto, 1992). It is a proximal, contained both research progams and a clinical psychoanalytic theory existed mainly as Freudian tems. Pefened values (Vanlear, i992), panems
emotionally focused, personal therapy rather than service, until state funding ended in 1980. His theory through the 1950s. In Europe, however, an- of coping with stress in maniage and with childen
an abstract, coaching, educational therapy. fu we early family observation was, like that of his con- alytic theory was modified between the late 1950s fluni, 1992), adjustment in and readiness for ma-
will see; this view of the therapist's role overlaps temporaries, based on intensive care of inpatients and the 1970s to become a theory ofhow self is riage (Campbell, Masten, &Johnson, 1998; Haws
e view held by Boszormenyi-Nagy in contextual with schizoptuenia and their families (Boszorme, created ftom intimate relationships. Object rela- & Mallinckrodt, 1998), and age at marriage and/or
th.opy. nyiNagy, 1962, 1965, 1972; Boszormenyi-Nagy tions theory was a revolutionary departure ftom pregnancy (Manlove, 1997; Thomton, l99l) are
Finall in a "ird period" of work at Emory & Spark, l9i3). The lstitute sponsored several Freudt wish-deferue theory of e mind. rransgenerarionally linked. Illnes and resilience
University, Whitaker began using a cotherapist of the earliest hmily erapy conferences in the Object relations theory is based on a Euo- pattems (Abrams, 1999; Jankowski, Leitenberg,
and including the family of origin in therapy 1960s, and Bovormenyi-Nagy was a founder of pean view of self-in-relatior-how a young indi- Henning, & Coffe 1999; Wallerstein, 199),
sessiqns.Like Bowen, he also began to make his AFIA, formed in 1977. vidual adapts to the encircling environment ofthe ability to hold a "double vision" ofmarriage and to
residtxay training $oups more systemic, having Contextual theory draws on e ideas of Eu- parent(s). Through adaptation to the loved other, resolve confict (Wallentein, 199), and intimacy
eq'do .family-olorigin presentations in class. ropean object relatiors writen such as Fairbaim the young personb deeply held wishes, beliefs, and (Prest, Benson, & Protinsk 1998) are also trns-
The$ emotional resporises arise in the context of family generationally linked.
ideas were picked up by orher systemic ( 1952) and existentialist, experience-based theo-
responses and initiations (Roberto, 1992). Some
' These intergenerational pattems provide the
therdiiies and elaborated into observing and re- rists such as Buber. These ideas were broughr to
flectih ieams, including family-of-origin consults e United States by Sullivan (1953), Fromm. object relations theorists devoted thei life's work blueprints and pattems of connection that will
in cople therapy (Framo, 1976) and in-sesion Reichmann (1950), Searles (190), and others in tohowfamilysystems shape e individualt experi- evolve later in every couple. Yet, when couples are
conqltation with multiple therapists. The Emory the Chesmut Lodge group. One of e dominant ence of self, That body of work uses e linea view interviewed to clarifr e stnrcture of thei ma-
faculry forined a process group and generated the interests for therapisa at at rime wrs !rstrrror- that the parent shapes the childt experience-in a riage and pattems of interaction, therapists often
Sea Island'.Conference of 1955-e fint family tJriruss---+specially how a therapist's trustwonhi- unilateal fashion (Bowlby, l99, l9?l; haiberg & do not explore how e couple may be replaylng
proces conference. ness affects a client's ability to tolerate and man- fr"ihrg, 1980; Mahler, Pine, & Bergrnan, 1975). lessons leamed in rhei families of origin. I discus

Afur Vhitaker went to the Univenity age psychotic symptoms. In the late 1950s and Initially, the theory focused mostly on individual this iszue as it applies to e most cunent empirical
of Wisconsio Psychiarry &partment, unril the l90s, Boszormenyi.Nagy made his theoretical behavior and self-concept (Fairbain, 1951 Klein, models of marital dysfunction.
mid-1980s, he and colleague David Keith rrained shift to systems thinling and began to apply it 1957; Wiruricon, 1965). Fairbaim focused on how
residents using live and videotaped interviews in his medical sening. Ar that same time, cyber- intemal views ofthe "ideal object [other]" evolved
Research on Cwpls in Disess
of,extended fbmilies to teach marital and farrily, netic theory .war also'.berng devebped. It was dif- . frgm inte-ractipn between baby-ard_mother, ?nd -
therapy. Symbolic-experiential rechniques remain frcult to stimulate dialogue and attention to the how painful and disappointing events arc taken oni"n (1SSA; Gottman'& Goa*-, Cipii:
heavily rooted in this collegial context of peer su- idea of relational ethics-lololry binls, mtitlarwat, in ("introjected") and en represed or buried to 5, this volume) identified seven complex pattem$
pervision, penonal family-of-origin work, and use ntsrit, mst, and mltualiry-with cybemetic theory preserve this ideal. Klein extended the idea of re- of marital intemction that distinguish between
of self in therapy. To the other TG models of thep in vogue (BouormenyiNagy &. Ulrich, 1981). presion to propose that repressed experiences stay satisfied and unsatisfed couples: greater reciproc-,.
apy it added hean, warmth, and therapist-<lient Contexoal theory focuses orr implicit emotional buried to avoid emotional pain but emerge as prc- ity of negative affect; lower ratios of positive to;'

connectiiry. communication and'typa of bonding berween


jetrions onto'iinponant caetakin. da, in an -
rregative behaviors; hiBt levels ofcriticisrq defFll
people, so it has a poor "d'wi purely behav- early application to couple work (1963), looLed siveness, contept, rrd stonewalhng (rhe'forr
ioral, problern-focused drinhing. Rather, contex- at how projection colors marriage. He poaited at honemen'); and ncgative and lasting amibtrtions
ContqtualThenpy alfuuCh a tusting marriage gives us e oppor- about the parmer. The reseachen also identi-
tual theory explains how the qualiry of long-term
Beginning aound l95, Ivan Boszormenyi.Nagy family relationships affeca inrimate behavior tlut $nity to revisit and come to tenns wi Finful, fred a fuquent paaem rhat they called the "wife
and colleagues focused on e concept that un. people bring to maniage and to parenting two. to rrpresiorr
repressed experiences, ftequently the demandlusband withdawn cycle, They con-
resolved relationship problems over the course of ree generations later. projection cycle is repeatd instead. cluded that positive affect and persuasion work
several generations create, or "feed forward,n into Object relations eory has been applied better to presewe subility in marriage: Positive
later emotional symptoms. He viewed families as in many settings in Europe, e Americas, Aus- affect buffen conflicts, prevenn negative attribu-
possesing an implicit, invisible network of felt
Abj*t Rdattunslhany tralia, and Canada, and has suftsed most MFT tions (attributing hd motives for *re partnert
loyalties berween parents and children, and be. In the history of maritl and family theory, the mries in rse now. Ideas abou the place of the behavior), and Eotects agairut pathologizing one
lieved thar these bonds of attachment and loyalry influence of psychoana['tic theory is enormous. unconscious or unintegrated experierce, ego, or anoer.
constitute a separate dimeruion of relationship This was especially the case in the work of Nor. self-denition, and intemal experiences, such as These ndings are extremely germane o TG
an "ethicaf'dimension. By adding the concept of man Paul (196D andJarnes Framo (197, 1981), introjectior projection, and amibution, are pan eory. For e>raople, the Gottrnan team lened
"relational ethics" (Boszormenyi-Nagy &. l(rasner, whose techniques are reviewed here. Virginia Satir of the bedock in our understanding ofpsychologi- the function of sable marriages to a bank accomt
198; Boszormenyi-Nagy, Grunebaum, & Ulrich, (1983), a TG erapist, was trained in analic cal development. in which each parmels posirive conribudons
202 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 203

compensare for negative feelings during conflicts. tance, faimess, and muruality; and oer inrrinsic Enpathy and Mutuality There is a dimension of imagination in
This frnding parallels a central tenet of conrexrual aspecs of family life. Their children then go into healthy couples: Partners can share fantasies,
therapy, which holds drat the level ofmrst built up maniage with expectations, needs, and deams There is a flow of empathy or understanding in a
hopes, and expectations together. In secure mar-
over time colon and influences people's ability to colored by these formative experiences. Maniages healthy maniage-a shaed framework in which
riages, emotional energies are freed up to antici.
negotiate and reconcile. The initial fund of msr in either develop characteristics of safery mutual re- each panner's behaviors and ntentions are for the
pate the fi.rture-connectedness that transcends
a maniage also panly reflecr each spouse's history gard, and hope or are compromised by the past. lt murual good of the couple. It is difficult for part-
today and adds depth that may not be apparent to
in previous love relatiurship, as well as needs and seems imperative, given these findings, tlut couple ners to build empay unles each member has an
the casual obsever. Paftners have murual curisity
abilities each has brought ort of his or her family erapy provide powerful ways to identifr and to imaginative sense of e other's experience. Em-
about each other. lt is a good sign when couples
of origin. But Gottman's research to date in look- change the modes of attachment by which parmers pathy partly comes from dialogues in which each
come together to marital erapy because one or
ing at his couples' transactions does nor include relate to one another. These emotional processes, parmer confides the personal meanings he or she
both panners want to increase marital satisfaction.
concepts from TG rheory. so deeply ingrained and colored by one's birth fam- derives from the maniage, personal beliefs, and re-
When a spouse refi$es to participate in the emo-
Two-generational research sodies help to ily, are beautifully addressed and described by rhe sponses to past events that have been signicant
tional work oftherapy despite an available and ca-
explain the facton that lead to and maintain the TG model. In fact, it is the TG modelt Diice d and formative. Empathy is aiso to some extent a
ing therapist, e ensuing distance will likely harm
skewed interactions of unhappy couples. Good- rcstst4trce. developmental ability that requires an intemal
the marriage. The death of hope and imagination
row and Lim (1997) descihd a pattem of high sense of well-being and the wish to be consider-
is a primary sign of eventual marital dissolution.
eactivity and defensivenes in an engaged couple ate and generous with othen. In dysfunctional
and the relevant behravior pattems transmitted THT HEILTHY PART]IERSHIP families of origin, painful or traumatic events and
from their respective parents. Lanon and Thayne disasters can destroy anympaic connection and Differentiation, Comm itment,
(1998) showed that nion and niangulation in Formulated as ey were in European American tum members aside into self-absorption, haned, or and Maihloie
subjects' families ae relatod to negative opin- societies, most TG theories hold that healy mismrst (Boszormenyi.Nagy's "desmrctive entitle- uDifferentiation"
is the abiliry to experience dif-
ions and feelings about mariage. In Nelson and marriage begins with a love bond in which rhe menr"). ference, the selfas separate alough in relation to
llamplert (2OOO rrt of 9 couples in coun- Thee is no term for the shared emotional
parmers have chosen ea other. It is cenain that everyone else. Many definitiorrs have been offered
seling, in which one or bo parmen reponed the deep psychological bond of love allows the "flow" that occun in satised couples. This flow is to conceptualize differentiation and what compris-
childhood abuse (physical or sexual), the parmer couple to form an emotional boundary around referred to as "give and take" in contextual eory es "enough" or "good" differentiation Bowen was
who reported abtse mctiored especially poorl the twosome that is preeminent and diffeent (Bovormenyi-Nagy & Krasner, 1986), as a sense
foremost among writen rrying to dene and ex-
and the tauma affected the other parmer as well. from other connections-more intense, focused, of "we"-nes (Whiaker & Keith, 1981, p. 192) in plain differentiation, not only psycJrologicall but
The authors concluded ut "a penon may experi- and intimate. Although a love bond tums the symbolic--experieltial theory and as reciprocity also biologically and sociologically ( 196/1985a).
ence secondary Fuma isses resulting from iden- partners'focus toward one another, the boundary in behavioral theory. I prefer the term "mutual- Well-functioning couples are able to ctrange
tication with the treuma vicim" (p. 180). One aound them must be somewhat permeable for a iry," which implies that ere is a back.and.fonh their dynamics over time as shifrs in family and
wonders to what extent the negative attributes healthy pannenhip. The loyalty berween partners affective quality: "One exrends oneself out to e social network produce "reality snesses of life"
discussed by Gonman's tanr could reflect such in a maniage of choice is typically sronger rhan other and is also receptive. ... There is openness (Bowen, 1966/1985a, p. 171)..The panners' fa-
mediating family-of-origin problems aid. their se. the toyalry to family-of-origin o'orher relation- to influence, eotionatavailability. ;'...There is' miliar ways of interrelating haie to adapt to e
rious marital consequences. ships. both receptivity and active initiative toward the inevitable triangles that fonn rough oer com-
Interestingly, Gotmran and Levenson ( 1999a, Falling in love as a basis for marriage is a 20- oer" (Jordan, 1991, p. 82). This interconnect- mitmen6, such as children, friends, famil and
1999b) stated drat in their nmples, couple inter- century European and American concept. Howev. edness sustains a couple during times of confict, work (Vhitaker &. Keith, 1981). Relationships
action is remarkably durable over a 4-yea period. e the love bond may be of increasing imponance because parmen rely on eir frurdamental attach- uoutside"
and connections the dyad are accepted
These pattems probably *become pan of e fab- in.maniage historically. As women and girls are ment. Thrst evolves from the reciprocity: If one and encouraged between.healthy spouses. When
ric of a couple's life and M
resistant to change" allowed grearer acces to education and paid work, the paftner en responds each parmer has a differentiated sense ofself (self-
(Lebow, 1D9, p. 169). Coryles also present with
the same issues after a ,fyear period
e economic factors sustaining marriage become i:il:il:*.r*er' identity), he or she can be resilient in the face of
in their les crucial, and marital commitmenr becomes in- Mutualiry and marital 4d pro 4n iawlve change. \lithout self-awareness, partners revert to
samples. Therefore, the viabitiry of a maniage creasingly more choice-based. Yer it is important agreeing to clear rules. Rules ae unique to each emotionally volatile, reactive modes of respond-
must depend not so ruch on whether isues are to understand the TG forces of culture and reli- couple and ailow parmen !o carry out their re- ing, and cannot tolerate stres well. Bowen specu-
resolved, or whar isugs are resolved, but on hou gion that have shaped marital stnrcrlr----even the sponsibilities and commitments as a ream. In lated tlut "the highest level ofdiffeenriarion rhar
patners mgage each oe. Degree o engagement concept of maniage as a twosome-rather than healthy couples, the agreements and requests are is posible for a family is the highest level that any
about marital isues is cncial. We can speculare committing the "beta bias" (Hare.Musrin, 198i) not oriented so much toward "doing'as towad family member can attain andmaintain against the
that when transactions bemeen spouses are so re- of assuming at all maniages ae alike regardless "supporting"; tradrng car repair for housecleaning emorional opposition of the hmily unit in which
markably stable over rime, ren it is probable that of ethniciry. And in many communities and coun- is nor mutuality. It is the sense of bilateral agree.
we are viewing patems thatare "trait" rarher than
ffie livel' (Bowen, 1966/1985a, p. 175). Bowen
tries (e.g., in observant Islamic and Onhodox Jew. ment belund e responsibilities at constitutes believed that the capacity for differentiation be-
"situarional" behavion (i.e-, ey reflect funda- ish families), marriage (or ar least e meeting of mutuality. rhen empathy and consideration are comes gradually more and more "setn over gen-
mental underlying perceptims and charactenstics prospective mates) is ananged by a msted elder. flowing back and fonh, each parmer has a feeling erations, with a dorvnwad drift into what Bowen
at each spouse brings to thLe rnarriage). Ethniciry, religion, and class ae so fi:ndamenral of being understood- Attachment theory considen termed "undifferentiated ego trrass,' or family fu-
I conclude that families oforigin pass on pre- and crucial in defining the concept of a "marital this quality to be cenual in producing emotional sion. Cenainly this is seen in families with a multi.
fened values; styles of intiuwe relating, meanings dyad" at I discuss them in a separate section of security in couples (Silverstein, Buxbaum Bus, genearional hisrory of violence, incest, addiction,
and beliefs abour difference tolerance ad acceo- .L:- ^L^--^-
urD LrrdPLc(. Tuttle, Knudson-Martin, &. Huenergadt, 2006). or neglect.
204 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7, Transgenerational Couple Therapy 205

Differentiation includes the ability to discem people who have decided to shae their lives. Re- Schnarch (1997) points out that intimacy is thus woman does not aim to be the "sole keeper" of
one's Lntemal emotions and thoughcs, ro identifu search and clinical study in the areas of emotional, a "two-pronged" process of both examining rhe the connection and can formulate thoughts at
them as separate from othen'emotions, and to traumatic, and developmental disorders have also self and expresing one's self to the panner. Pan- are different, and the man is willing to risk emo.
mainrain one's own observations and judgment- shown that there is a neurobiological element in nen who ae capable of self-validation rather than tional contact and can express thoughts that con-
one's own "voice.' Differentiation includes per. the abiliry to auach to loved ones (Siegel, 200). approval seeking are beter able to contribute to
sonal goals and direction, self-knowledge, self- The abiliry to regulate and integrate emotion, ro their marriage. This view of intimacy reflects the
guidance, and self.soothing. It allows personal engage, and to respond are neurological activiries. natural systems concept that chronic anxiety (e.g.,
probl'em solving and self-cone*ion. Since the Secure (consistent, empathic) attachment and at. approval seeking) is a relational obstacle. IHE DYSFUICTI(}I{AL PARII{ERSHIP
1980s, when science began to study female, as tunement to others require a healy mind that has
well as rale, development, our view of differen- not been craumatized. Abuse, neglect, and disaster As I have mentioned elsewhere (Roberto, 1992),
tiation has been modified to acknowledge that survivors have difficulty wi secure attachment.
Defining "Good " Communicaon
"smrcrural" (connectivity vs. distance, hierarchy
self- knowledge always occun in the context ofsig- Maniage requires a significant amount of "ac- The prevailing view of couple communication s vs. equalit conflict vs. cooperation) symptoms
nifrcant, long.term, intimate relationships-"self- commodation" (Jory Andenon, & Greer, 1997), that "good" communication provides active listen- reflect problems in a couple's emotional "process."
in-relation" rather than "self' (Boszormenyi-Nagy or tolerance. Individual diffeences demand that ing, openness, and empathy toward onets parmer's Strucrural symptoui are tmrisactions that can be
&. Ulrich, i981; Fishbane, 1999; Knudson-Manin, partnen accept each other's limits, in spite of views. However, in this "open" proces, e con- marked on a genogram. They may look like bound-
1994). Differenriarion is a prerequisite to a healthy whatever expectations each carried into the rela. nection beveen parmers is not necessarily "good." ary problems, in which rhe marital dyad is distant,
maniage bcause when one can be emotionally tionship. Accommodation is part of the "relational There are many forms of"open" but troubled com- "locked" (fused o enmeshed) togeer in depen-
sellsufficient, then "dependency on each other is ethics" of caring and faimess. It involves following munication as well: spilling of anxiety (venting), dency and/or frghting about it, or pseudomumal (a
voluntary""(framo, 1981, p. 139). Neither parmer tirough on requests and expresed needs instead of expressions of self-doubt, unesolved issues, and socialrelationship with no attachment). The mar-
feelsur.dened from consrandy having to be in the questioning or criticizing each other's vulnerabili. projections carried from other relationships. In riage may be too open to intrusions ftom othen, or
"helpef role, a siruarion that Bowen referred to as ties. Accommodation does not occur unles pan- contrast, "good" communication is dialogue with so closed that a qpouse is punished for any outside
"losing'self," popularly known as codependency. ners ae able to show faimes; in families where personal accountability and is relevant to the pan- connection. The parmen may have triangled in a
TG models view differentiation as a comer- pathological hurt has occurred, faimess can be ne who is listening. Concems expresed must be third party. Or there may be extreme complemen-
stone of peogle's ability to enter into long-term erased or distorted. For example, in the situation resolvable, the stress level has to be controlled, tarity (codependent-addict or caretaker-patient
commitments and live together. We have only to of the retrobing shte (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Kras- emotions must be contained to some degree, and maniages); exfteme symmetry (rwo parmers with '
look at maniages in which one or both spouses ner, 198{), people whose families have harmed or the spouse must have room to respond; A good similar symptoms); and "tilts," where ere is an
-trivial
have poor differentiation to see how even 'wonged em tend to feel entitled or that they are dialogue occun between two people who ae re- imbalance of power or equity (e.g., the "dollhouse"
and unimponant disagreements.lead to defensive- "owed" compensatibn in thei own families later. If flecting on an issue from different vantage points or "one-up-one-down" marriage).
ness,recrimination and blaming, self-centeredness; there is. not d reasonable amount of accommoda- in which each has some understanding and emo- In contrast to stnrctural symptoms, e un-
and discrediting the parmer. tion in e maniage, neither parmer feels cared tional equilibrium. derlying process problems do not show on any
Individual differentiation probably infl uences for or safe. 'i .T. is view, called 'telf-validated" (Schnarch, geno$am. "Proces problems" include unworkable ..
how we selecorr parinen. Although rnany other -l Marital intimacy also."requies akeen sense - l99TI,communication,. creates' gender,specific. rypes of bonding nt produce stres and enotional. ''
models of couple therapy do not examine isues of of self.identity and self.differentiation. . . . In con. tasks for couples in therapy. Women are socialized pain. There may be unrealistic or desmctive ex- I
marital choice, TG models provide a Famework trast to distancing, the feelings iruidz a person and to move toward the parme trying to clarifr their pectations, such as contempt, disrespect and ridi- ,
to undentand variations in commitment, marital betueen people are critically imponant in devel- feelings through connection with oers (Jor. cule, narcissiim, or exploitiveness. One or both I
readines, and choosing one's panner. The reason oping closeness" (Fogarty, 1978, p. 70). To a large dan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver, & Sune 1991). fu paftners may have problems wirh idealization and
for this is that TG models do not view young trur- . extent, people's.capacity for intimate relating also Knudson-Manin and Mahoney (1999) point out, perfectionism. Or there may be indifference, sex-*..
.
rieds as individuals, but as members of rwo families includes willingnes ro exainine their own inter- women may feel presure to "seek elatiorship and ism, or prejudibe. Proces probleris easily escape;r'
who have been launched (to a lesser or greater de- nalized beliefs about love, fulllment, caring, and connection," sometimes compromising or 2p. discussion in marital therapy, because they are im- '.
gree), and are expected to form their own relation- mutuality (Jory et al., 1997; Schnarch, 1997). Ir pressing parts of tliemselves that appear different' plicit in thought, difficult to verbalize, and painful ''
ships. is this self-examination that clarifies ei values (p. 331). Men, presured by gender expectations to admit.
and expectations regarding closeness, reciprociry tlut they should "protect their independence"
lntimacy and Healthy Athchnent sexual intimac and numrance, so that they can (p. 311), hide para of themselves tlut would fos-
evaluate maniage and identifr desired changes.
Delegation and Negatiye Attibuons
ter connection. In couple therapy, therapists tend
Attachment is e metaphor used to explain e Self.examination is the direcr experience of to follow this gender bias and call on the ftmale "Delegation" is e nansmision of unesolved
supponive propefties of commitred relationships the inner self, subjectiviry, and "going deep" into partner to open the dialogue. It is asumed thar family stress onto a child, which is inremalized ',
(Johnson & Lebow, 2000). However, auachment one's core assumptions and expectations of the so- is will help the male panner leam ro disclose (Boszormenyi-Nagy &. Krasner, i986; Stierlin, ,

has to develop hand in hand with individual self- cial world. It is not posible to share this kind of himself. Gendepstereotypical behavior-women Levi, & Savard, 1973). The child experiences "ob-
awareness. Maturna (personal communication, spiritual and emotional zubjectivity wth a spouse, punuing while men detach-leads to e bumout ligation," leaming that his or her personal wishes
March, 198), a reseach biologist, remarked rhat unles one is fust willing to explore and reflect on (hers) and disengagemenr (his) tlrat ends maniag. are less significant than family needs. As the off-
from the point of view of environmental biology, penonal experiences. When rrutined, intemal- es (Johrson & Lebow, 2000). Ideally, good com. spring tries to carry out e expectations delegated
love is "the intention ro coexist." Attachment and ized beliefs and memories of love relationships munication involves investment of eadr partner! to him or her, choices become nanower, and the
adaptation evolve in the conrext of mo different draw heavily on family-of-origin experiences. mre, not hidden, self (Scheel et al., 2000). The obligations become a heavy burden. The sense of
206 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 207

burden is usuallv not in conscious awareness and conscious or deliberate act, it is to some degree coholics who were children ofalcoholics and their riage that he or she actuallv makes them come to
is instead expresed in the maniage. Paul (196i) inevitable. nondrinking spouses showed similar scores on a pass. For example, a man whose mother left him in
commented on how "losses and associated sense Through understanding the d-vnamics of sup- codependencv measure. They also reponed simi- childhood mav be so riddled $,ith iear that his $'ife
of deprivation lead to deposit of such affects as pression and projection, we can recognize Gott- lar levels of dvsfunction in their families of origin. u-ill leave him, or be unfaithful, that he pushes her
sorrow ... guilt ... bittemess, despair, and regret" man's discoi'ery in the narrrage lab of negative Participants endorsed items on a f'amily systems arvay with his doubts and suspicions. Pathological
(p. 189). anributions as an example of projective behav- questionnaire indicating low individuation, high jealousy, pathological guilt, and destructive enti-
There can be "displaced exploitation," such ior. As he and his colleagues noted, this problem anxiety; low ansgeneational intimac-v, and lou' tlement (Bos;ormenvi-Nagy &. Krasne, 1986) are
as expecting the spouse to share the sense of ob- spells the end of marital viabilit-v. There can be no spousal intimacv (Pres et al., i998). examples of self-fulfilling propheo'.
ligation also-especially with family of origin. trust in a maniage ii there is not hope that it will
These are rhe situarions in rvhich a husband dines comfort and give support, and attributions are self-
U nconscious M arital Contracts Marital Violence as Fuson
rvith a parent several tinres a week and expects his fulfrlling prophecies thar do not allow healing ro
wif'e to participate. Or a rvit'e expecc to nke in take place. Object relations theorv maintains that when an lvlaital r,iolence is prol.ab,lv the premier svmptom
an inesponsible sibling to lile with the couple in. adult has not addressed important developmental of marital fusion. GoLdner ( 1998) commented par-
definitel.v. When Jelesated child lacks empathy needs betbre leaving home, they are played out in ricularlv on thc "compelline. automatic projection
for him- or herself, by extension he or she lacks Fusion and Distancing Patterns that has come to possess the [abusivelv
mate selection. This has been called an "unc,n- process
consitleation for the spouse. Fusion scious marital contact" (Sager, 1976). In those connectedl couple" (p. 277, mv brackets). In bat-
Pro.jection has been ivell discussed in rhe ob- areas in rvhich we feel inadequate, we project that ggl -spouse svndrome, batterers retain a sense of
ject relation-s lireratue-in fact, it is part of rhe Natural srstems therapists cored the term "fusion" contol and personal meaning. Because the bat-
need and are then attracted to others who appear
to describe the "glue" rhat makes some couples too terer irirhtcns hit ,,r hcr iFuuse into agreement.
oldest literatue on couple problems (e.g., Jackson correspondingly stonger. For example, a woman
& Lederer, 1968). $'namicallv, the bond l'ith attached. ln fused marriages, one partner tends ro who believes that she is not competent to make the victimizeil spouse progressivelv Loses any sense
geater passivity under stress than the other, of self.rpart frorn tq,ing to contain n.l lo,rk ,ut
a parent is icleali:eJ in childh.,oJ, an,1 painful -shtrrv decisions mav seek out a spouse who seems m,-lre
events are oilen distoned bv chrldren to maintain and appears Jependent on the other while seem- decisive.
course, she then experiences frustra- fbr the next episode ofviolence. Both partners are
that ideali:ation. As a voung person splits ott nega- ing to give in or adapt. Bowen\ (196i1985a, tion when he is decisive because in realitv she reluctant even to seek help without the othe-a
tive or problematic characteristics of the parents 1972/1985b) group believed that the overly adap- can make workable decrsions and only assunred ci)mple:( situation thlr forces therapisn into inter-
or elder siblings, these perceptions are suppressed tive partner loses a sense oicompetence, while the tha his rvere pret'erable. A man who sees himself vierving them together, Jespite the danger in the
to maintain the loving connection (Fairbaim, unileradaptive partner seems to gain it, Over time, as abandoned and vulnerable mal choose a part- home. The victimized partner, rvho spends energy
1952,). Clinicians ae tmiliar rvith the problem the panners merge into a tightly locked unit, with ner u'ho appears self-conlident enough to protect adapting to the demands of the riolent, poorlv
of an adult child of abusive parents, who refuses lirtle overt conflicr. Bolven\ rheory holds that the him. Atraction is extremelv powelul between contolle,l partner, ceases ro be self-protective
o admit that rhe parenrs rvee busive rnd in- "comperent" spouse is protecred tiom stress in this incomplete or suppressed pans of ourselves and ,rvcr trlr. InsteJ. he ,'r .hc heeomes lrotective
steird overreacts when the spouse raises hs or her rva\'-at the expense of the "incompetent" spouse the image we ibrm of another who appears more of the banerer.
(Robeo, 1991). One o both partners linally iorm
voice or makes rhe slightest dissatislied conmenr. comple[e. lt is very difficult to tbrm a dispassion. Exploring tarnilv histtries of abusir,e spouses
When the spouse hen protests, rhe negative reac- emotional s-vmptoms-usually the overly adap- ate perspecrive on this unconscious'agenda until has clarilied some confusing irspeets of violence-
tion seems to validate those projections (Robeno, tive sprruse (Btwen, 196/1985a; 19i2l1985b; well into a marriage, rvhen the spouse show human lbr example, whv there rs TG transmission. The
1992). This is ,rne ol the central problems of abu- Ken, 1961, 198r). The "competent" spouse, who iiailry anJ fhils to tulfill the rvishes and desperarelv ct,ncept,li "Jestuctivc enitlement," discusseJ
sive relatiunships: The r.itrlent., lusive parturr. is grining tunction,rl "-.elf' tiom rhe other, may be JesrreJ missrg qualities. l.rrur ilt lhi. -italc;, .{cs.rtl'c. :hc crflrrititc he-
.llticu i:
n ht hrm- ,rr herself u a. ,rnce hame,l, hils com-.leteir uniiwiire ()i thc .g55u., on tl-te "in- Transitii,ns ,rnJ Lr[e chailenges hrmg a iecl- havn,r ,,i abrisers ,rs a teaction to milv-t,f-.rrigin
t eliclrng lhlr rhe,'thcr a.lrE:. F(c:r.t:c lhc p:rrrnr. c(rnlFetent'' souse. Ti-re onilict that Jrives them ing ernptinesstnJ ct ntusion. The tensirn thrr ,il.uc: ii,ne's parent \rls ll()t .tccountable tor hurt-
'.f
iiid not -.h.rv canng. There cn ls() hc "mutuai ittr,, drcr;rp.v cottcs ilhetl nerther .pouse rvtll tur- accompanles cmptrness challenges our senie ,)t Lng rlrc r:rnrth. ritcn *iry {n'ui ')nc i'e rct..unL-
.utriL,urr,n" (Dicks, 196i), in rihich cacir spouse th.r ccommo.lite rhe rrther rn the fusion, or when competence, an,l aduLts turn to their manizrge .rhie to tne': srtr-ss 1lw1 Denial nd ninimi:a-
pcrccivc,i tire ,rthcl s simila r,t hurtiLil Feri()ns in thc cne rvho firnerll qave up self cannot tunction anticrpating )uf'ptt. Mut Fe('nlc r\FeLi r. ln 'i, n. :r'., f('.\ rth :he . i, Icnt tntilt ,i,'rl:rn.
"r(,1
rc rJ. -,'
rl're past. ren rveil iinvm()re .
each other cretes nticipation nd Jeman,is, .1ts- lrk .,i ,..''rurr:rl'tlirr ln ,'n(. ,,wn mtr-
Wh'r le c,rnnot .lccept in rrursclvcs, rve .ic- in he natLr:rl r\:stenls vie\v .f tuston, the appointment, hurt :rnd anger. The e\Fectatlons. rrge Lrrr. llrtJfi,,lt l. irc lurcst iorm,,ftusi,,n.
uv-nJ then ''l.rcking" [ogetlrer T,r Lrnpack rtnt ,ti he-.e unJerh'tng issues
JerFise it in ,tur r(nihcnt ,rrhcr. r-rf Ftners is seen as a esponse which airvirvs come hom past experience rrutsiJe
lu rhe pirenrrrtnon ot "l,rLrtectile i.funncl)trr-.r1. ' ar) cilr0nic .t\lct\ i\r ''ullresr)i\,ed emorronal ar- lhc InarilJg(. -tre.: rh. rc].tlt'n:htF (F, i:lrtr'. rn rirc mritrl fusL,rn, 'c,treui iec..nstructitut .if
lhc slouse is i tetteJ ic[ol)c()rislr) rrs ltr'Lnq ccr- '.rhmcnt' r ' I lr.runan. u.ri tlunrLt ,'f ' ri,trn 1973). Ech pilrtncr must L.e ble to oLeate .lis- cch in.livi.luai's per:r rnul h1ruiv is ltecessarl
t1in .rtntrilies r)r reci,
'ns ith
u irhrch l e uur-.e1i es rB.rlen. L9?4). Fmiir mernlers re Jraun intrr appointments nd un,iestanJ his or he ouu Jit- preenf,lc firr rhe m,,rrllv crucral Jiscussion ofper-
srruggie i.ur trii n.'r r.imrr, For crentpic, -r '.r'rfc rntcl1:c :in! .inrrcli -ir.iJen !rr-rlilons u ih each satrsfacrion. ln ihe process,'irne shoulJ not erpect :t'nal res!.onsrliiitr' ,rnJ .rqenci" iColJne. i99r\,
ini' teel ,:itici r,nrJ her hu-.it:in.{ -. Jerrrtr,tn ,r ther The rnxetr ievel rn rire milt' resultr in anv more non husband ,rr rvif-e than he uoul.l cs- p. Jii). lon. usinq rntllnitte iusice theor!. also
irt. rnrrk. r'ienrng ilLnt ,1-i tL\) j(tit-,rr-lcntel:
firc t , irrck ,i fi-.crr,. ,,n :elf nd otertbcr,rsng ,.n others. pect om an\' lnn \)r womirn out,.iie rhc tanilr' )llt ht to eirf ,, r,tleuce, I'ncrc inust ne in
f (tlnt-i L

me time. ,,he pu:he. irer.e ii -rnJ cven'r)ne lrounLl ''Frtmiir pr,.rjecrirrn pn.,cess.'' ,r relate.l concept. Je- rF \Ji. fhc.c.t.rrtlilrg rsnrlrk.'ir r:rrnit'hc rn- exmrnation,ri rnrcrnali:ed timtl! expenences.
irer rorrari her ,,u n ltral: t..r uccc:. It i: nt r li.rr.i .ciL.cs htru l.rtlcular chrlJrcn become enrneshed snctiue sense oi rntinlac\' s t,)getheneis. .tne nl.lt..r,linra.r;,l1tcr'.'(r'ltr-n :n\r'hcs'c\P].,r-
:L,r lntlcr:ilni h.,u hc-.. i.'ng-.t,rnirng, .ii.:,,lrr.e.i :l) ., lnl|lg.c r rrir -h. .lrenL.. th.n nrl -o Jcvei,'F i
one extreme rm erf uncrrtscitlus cJntr:1ct ls lng \nericnce5 ivith lrtU\\'ermcnt, li-(empos'
irrc(ftr n- - rnc r. e. .rrl ih. .iccn rnJ r:rr:.rr'.' r"irfierentiatc') .r rocus on,eif. in an rnteresting rhe self-iuitillinr prrrphecr'. in rlhtch a partner ts .o erment nJ the atLr:c. ,,i ...11's rn rh rnrlv ,-tt
rrtlCilllrcrlr I r l:1tn.llc. i...'u.c -iil. . n. r , empiricaL itulir |,f trLSLon lrnLi tirrnrlr projection. al- greatlv iistres:cJ l\' tears rrr n\lcties in rhe lltL- ,,rtgrn'' lJul .\iricl:rrtl. l:199. p l jr'l).
208 I, MODELS OF COUPLE THIRAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 209

Triangles Larino societies, the weight of the parent-child this risk can be a powerful motilator tbr a code- Religion, Culture, and Class
bond is equal to that oi the marital bond and may pendent spouse in setting limits and leaming not
Fusion is expressed not only in "locking together" Feminist-informed theories of cultue and the fam-
acnrallv be more endurLng and important. Em' to make so manv sacrifices.
il.v have provided pou,erhrl larger.svstem explana-
but also in the eactive contlict and backing awav
parhv and eceptiveness between a parent and a
that ensues. ln manv couples, periods of depen- tions for marital dystunction. Feminist theon fo-
chiLd are expected, and differentiation from the f ,,^g
dency explode into anger and pushing apart. The ^;^+^ -^,-^
ut5Lat tLtr\ ^^/ru vuLUtl
ar cuses on the ways that male-centered culture rules
lamily of orrgin is not expected or tolerated.
marriage is unstable and shifts back and fonh be- how husbands and wives difierentlv approach
Chronic tusionlcan produce a ilistanr marriage.
tlveen two poles of coming together and backing marital conflict, problem solving, intimao. man-
For example, in the distancer-pursuer pattern' one
away. Couples react to these exemes b.v pulling Entitlement and Revolving Slates aging stress, self-empol'erment, sexualitv, finan-
partner tries to speak tbr, approach, oi dras'out
in a third person, who moderates the closeness and cial and emotional power distibution, and even
Anl discussion of attributions, projection, and the othe'-s concems, and usuall,v miseads them.
delining what constitutes a problem or a marital
distance bv being available to one or both partners.
mutuai projection leads rnto discussion of "entitle' An overexpressive spouse pursues an underexpres'
This person becomes a "boundary keepeq" rvho cnsis. Each TG moJel in irs .-rriginal fonn. htril
ment," which is the expectation that because one ;ive spouse. In rum, rhe unJcrexpresstve partner
stabilizes the shifiing maniage (Bvng-Hall, l98tl, in the 195tls and 1960s, neglected to examine bi-
has sacrificcd tb others, one deserved acknorvledg- acts without expressing his or her thoughts or ieel-
p. 355), much as a goalie guards a goalpost and ases of male-centered culture (beta bias). "Beta
rnent and consideatitn back (Boszormen.vi-Nagy ings, leaving the "mind-reader" to fbllou'along
keeps the ball in plav The partners then contin- bias" hee would be the assumption that gender
S;. Spark. L97J; Bos;ormenyi-Nagy . Ulrich, completelv mystilied and usuallv approaching
rheir back-an.l-fonh shifting. approaching and Jiffeences are unimportant, thus placing them
ues l giJ 1 ). "Destructive entitlement" is the belief that again for some explanation. The more nonexpres-
then backing away, but without extremes. Com- outside the scope of discussion (Hare-Mustin,
one is berng ,lenie.l ilcknowledgment or consid. sive one partner is, the hatler the other lrne works,
mon triangles include flairs, job entanglements, 198?). Syrnbolic-experiential theorv does point
eration. Helthv i-eelings of entitlement begin in and the couple becomes trapped in this pattem,
or ibrming a famill or child "coniilante." Hol- out the impoftance of rddressing eender inequi-
tomarive rears, rvhen a .voung person is given the with one as the "rock" and the ,rther as the "emo-
ever, 'nce the trienglc has become persistent, , 'ns ties in martal therap.r', either by moving couples
cae and attention that is part oi normal iamilv de- tional rvreck."
or both spouss begin to have lo.valty binds, and it tou,arJ egalitarranism. rr acknrrvledgrg justice
i'elopment. ln d1'sfunctional f'amilies, unmet needs Signilicant tension underlies the distancer-
is ,iifficult to tbcus attention on rhe marriage. ln issues for women, such as the need for autonomv
tbr care and acknowledgment are canied tbrward pursue pattem. The tension is elated to each
many couples, emotional triangles rnay afrect the partner\ Jeepl.v held beliefs about how to gain rn family Life. Yet there has been linle tbcus on
rnto adult love relationships and maniage as negii-
very future of the elationship. Extramari{al allairs gender inequities in maniage. For example, femi-
tive felings of entitlement. In a painful and unfair securitv and love, desire for r.alidation fiom the
re a Jramatic example. nist theorists rvould argue that entitlement is gen- .

"rerolving slare," the positron of "giver" is passed other, t'eas of the dangers of conflict, an,l expecta-
Children are otien the most common third tions about who must do the work in a relation- dered-that in maniage, the needs of the husband'
on ro the spouse. N'leanrvhile, the partner who feels
parties in a cross-generatlon tnangle'called a "cct tend to be value,l as more rvorthv than the wife's
destuctive entitiement teels justified in making ship. These beliefs and tensions ae intemali:ed
aliion." The cLruple becomes chrld.focused o from previt-rus relationships, including experiences needs. Slipp (1994) has pointeJ out thar because
demands anJ expecting care from his or her mate,
creates a "three-u'av marriage" (Palaz:oli, 1974). with the tamily of origin. Distancers want to see male children are pushed arvav fiom nurturance in
becruse it should be his or her tum to benelit.
The couple maintains stability lbr Jecades of chil,l themselves as self-suflcient, and carn an iJeali:ed their socialization, thev carrv a certain amount of
PeopLe caught in a revolving slate of une'
destuctrve entrtlement into maniage. If, in this
rearing, with one i)r both pafincrs rel,ving rrn a son quited carinq rvith their famil.v of origin, plav out an,1 depersonali:ed vier'- of marriage that tenJs to
-transitional
societ-, fathen were to pick up nurtur':'
,' i
or daughter forlupport. When the son or Jaughter this unresolved problerir with spouse. I belive break doin uhder stress. Prsuers see themselves 'Jt

becomes more separate from the parent(s). otten as dependent, and helieve rhat their hrrpe for a vi-
ance functions ior their sons, there would not be a'
rhat manv repeeting marital pattems seen on
aiier inJir,idual therapr', thesc maniages Jestabt- qenogram rre the result oi the revolving slate phe- hle marrige cr)mes tr()m carrving both patners' Jeficit tor thei sons rr caq tnto marrtage. ln rhe'
li:e (e.g., see Braverntan's 193l That chrlJ's ,lissatistactions sc, thev crrn untlaterallv 'patch up" past JecJe, temrntsr theorl' ltr,, r,,.rr.J,nur. u.f'
'tudv). nomenon. For example, the neglected son ofa busr
'nrerse.i rn.lnn,lence. \'rn llter ln lite, arr lte{ reas oi contlic. lt is ls. possible to hr-e ,un- iarger-,.r'stem prirhlems. unair':ing s,rcrai and t,lrtt-
frrthe nar e\f,sct th.It his spouse rvill let his ou'n
a signilicant ios ti-,r rhe parentl-i;. The su'bseqLrent metrrcal Jistirncer-ptrrsiler fi;tttem in rvhich eci'r raL m,rvements tht colo thc cxpcctaluns of lncn:
lrt.e rer.rire rronrl hin1. On the maital genoqram,
emotlonal Jlsrance is not halnceJ bv -.tong \\'e see ir "Jocted line" ,rf Jistancing betrveen the spouse dances to\rall the other, then rvev, like n,l w,rmen ln marrlitge. The rmplication ttlr mari+
lnarllaqe e. "cntrled" man nd his tather, :rnd the same "dot- rhe characters Scalett O'Haa n.l Rhet Butler tal therapv is ht rhe theraprsr must take r posi-
The other nost comm()n thti c,trtl ts ,tn rn- red [ne' l.enveen rhe nvo husbands norv. Whita. in rhe 'ook t ione u rrh l \I in,l. il\'n rl'L)ut th. iarg.r.r\tcn) Lhdf lEluscs I,, ign,rr(
L1w, usuailr a mr)the-in-la\\'. L)ne .,r ht-.th i i:hc ker, lokrng bor,rt pr,hLems of the revolvtng slirte, The exteme oi Jistancing is cuoti. Ceninl venJer inequin', ,,r else the therupist will b in the
spouses remlins highiv interconnecre.l $ith thc c()lnmented rhat marriages are "reall,v just t\vo fcatures of cutotf include mintmi:atron r)r Jenlal posrtron of L.eta bias. .{s GoiJner (1995) put i,;
f trachment, s ii rhe relaionship never existed, "Given rht rve te bom lnto a svnbolic nd ma-:
morhrr. uho mJlntarns .ln .lcil\'( l3n rn rhc a'\tl' :cpcgoats sent Jut bv nvo iamrlies to repro,luce
ple's relatitrn-.hip. occupies ttme. t.ls [) Liecislr)11 crch ,.rrhe. ... The hattle is rvhich rrne it rvrll be" acting c.rrnpleteiv seit-.utircient, rn.1 even phvst- terial rvorlJ that is irir gcnJercJ ... -r 1,rix-
i68). Destuc- crill running rvav. Th. cutot{ ls n()t :ublectiveLr- .rble to ',r,esate its ettect-..,n mtnJ anJ cukure.
making, anJ turnislies support. Ho\rever, the,rriet tcitc,l in ;'r..erll S Knrskern. 19EJ, p.
-rbout he harm caused bv thi. cross-generational n e entrtiement ln mrrrtage is mos clearlv seen tn seen as a problem, lut as a justrtie,l teeiine that 'l ... $'e cnnot ;ee ihrough {enrler to tire pers()n
h:rve to get awav honr this." At the receiving en.i,
'inside,' since qenJer and ;eif hr'e co'elriveti,
trranglc c,'nthttl. V'c.rcm e,rnrcrn dl','Lrt Iilc frl- c,rtlepenient malrlages, Somehon'. one Lrrtners
macv r)i the married pair irnJ he rnis,,':r'nis i.lert LrecJs nJ fercslti()n\ e valued as mte impor' the partner rr ho is cutting ,rff >eems tr) ha\-e great rhr.rughtrut the .levekrpmental process" tp. {i.
rh;i imir tntcrjcicnJcnir ,. r r' iie:n. Th. i.rrr. nJ tn(.'tlrEr;'.trn(r'- ncels lnJ fcr.cFtl, nr -reit-ietenrnrrtliln, :trength. .rni t1,..e iell-cstee:1l Even ii crruf lc 1s not -1$itre ,\I 1rr aalrrl]ilinlng
concept \)f !ross-qeneratt,lnrl irianglcs ,t. J!lunc- ,ue ,rlerioukeJ hv b,rtir ,ri them. If the situatou is than the partne,- lho i-, Ief lehinJ. lir rtaLitr'. L rbout inequitics in ll.reii iiilriiirgi .rr irnihcs ;
ri,rnai culurailr LinkeJ r \\'esem in.iivi.ltLiisi
is nt rcctrtle,i. he chri.lren in that househoiJ re retlects seree Jecrts in the alihrl to toleritte tius- origur. rhe culturil,; competent marital tl-reraprsi
.rciercs (Faiicor, l99S). ln e.rilecill.t cultue,, .rr rsk to piar ,rut tl',rs revollrng sLate oi "l'ho gets trlrti,)n. to preser|e iroc in the trce r, arLsis, .]11!i nu-.t ,tJJess the Lmpact ,.ri cult,.rral teetrt|Fe-' rrn

)uch .ls ,\5ian. East lnJian. \leJitcnnean. .rnJ :il.l r|ho i-llvcs.' ln m.rrrtal ther;rpt', pointing ou trt mlntain connection unJer :tre-.s. the couple's tunctonitlg.
2r0 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 2LI

Therapists musr carefr:lly look at what is dominated economics and lan', authority extends family functionng are available at use a circum- Genognms
normative for a familyt cultural group when through fathen to husbands to brothes to sons. plex model to assesses families regarding distribu-
evaluating srrucilral or process symptoms. lvlari- Assessment usually takes place in the first one to
Emotional process is also cultured. For ex. tion of power, intimacy and cohesion, autonomy
tal problems can reflect and even be mediated or ample, the concepts of entitlement (what is owed
three meetings with both spouses presenr. Part-
and other important factors. These tools have
have their meaning changed by cultural issues. ners are not divided up for individual intewiews,
to us our spouse and family), destrucrive en-
b.v been underutilized, refecring e predominant
Culture affecc how a family denes its members, unless thee are issues ofsafety and well-being to
titlement, and attendant problems such as the thinking that the frame for couple work can be
and where the boundaries exist within a family or revolving slate, cannot be used in the same way be assessed (e.g., parmer violence). The major
completely consmrcted within the manied dyad,
a multiculnrral maniage (lv{cGoldrick, 1989). For across cultures. For example, the current genera- instead of being viewed as an extension of larger-
tool for identifring problem pattems is the family
example, not every nuclear family is defined as tion of Korean American young adults has risen to genogam. Genograms have been adapted in vari-
family problems. Thus, despite the wealth of infor-
penons who live in the home. In a Roman Catho- educational and financial advantages through the mation about family impact on later adult func- ous ways for clinical use. $namic markings have
lic famil parents, godparents, and the spouses of personal sacrifice and hard work of eir parents. tioning, couple therapy is too often cordoned off been well developed (Guerin & Pendagast, 19?6),
sons and daughten are all seen as pan of the nu- They carry a tremendous sense of obligation to as a modaliry separate from family therapy. ln con-
so that dyad and TG pattems can be easily shown
clear family. In an African American household, respond by choosing work and maniage that will (see Figure 7.1).
trast, TG therapisa "puncuate" the problems ex-
neighbors and church fellows may be part of the please their parents. In Japanese families, individu- perienced wiin a couple by looking ar rheir place These markings are used ro make certain
spousal support system. In a religiously observant al happiness is considered less imponant, and hap- in the three.generation grid of their two families couple interventions, such as pointing out re.
farnily, if a relative is a ministe he or she may be piness is consideed to be linked to achieving the during assessment. peated problem pattems in bonding; generations
of the nuclear family during well.being of the whole group; excessive demands It is also important for the therapist to un- of symptoms, such as alcoholism and codepen.
[ffir;,l..ber by any one member wold disrurb h, or harmony derstand what effects flow ouward from changes dency; or complementarity of behaviors. Initiall
In Easr Indian, Asian, and Southeast Asian (Tarnura & Lau, 1999). within a couple, to their families of origin. The however, genograms guide rhe clinician to address
families, the inlans ae cenral to a couple's loval- Conflict and communication are culturally two families, connected as they are to each spouse problem-maintaining isues in either or borh fami.
ties. Tiadirional Chinese and Japanese families are linked. In extended.family societies, where large- in dyads and triangles, will be changed if the cou- lies of origin, and to plan realistically regarding
similar in their emphuis on filial loyalry, and fam- group harmony must be preserved due to proxim- ple changes. In fact, this is one ofthe tenets ofna- long-term family change. The time.line genogram
ily stmcture derives from Buddhist and Confucian ity and involvemenr, indiecr and implicit com- ural systems erapy. The two families will prob- (Friedman, Rohrbaugh, &. Krakauer, 1988) plots
ideals emphasizing paniarchy and the extended munication is prefened. Rae than being able to ably experience these shifts as uncomfonable and imponant family-of-origin events clearly in eir
family (Tmura &. Lau, 1999). ln these families, assen oneself and make "I"-focused statements in unfamilia and will have their own responses. For time frames.
the emphased relationship is berween mother the Bowenian mode, rhe couple relies on careful example, families with low differenriation tend ro Genograms have also been adapted for clini-
and''child (especially a son), not husband and listening to read wishes underlying each other's "pull" harder when boundaies ae moved, and the cians treating specific types of couple problems,
wife. In extreme conBast, Gucasian Eurocentric much more compacr comments. Or, an ally is tem- pressure to move boundaries back will challenge such as sexual dysfunction, family illnes paaems,
Chistian families (e.g., Brtish families) expect porarily triangled in to represenr the interests of the couple. These responses need to be predictd, spiritual and religious histories, medical and ge-
the married pair to h split off ftom other family one spouse; for example, a wife may conde in a planned for, and consideed in couple work (Ro- netic disorders at could affect planning ofchil-
memben when it comes to personal problems and sister-in.law, who tells her mother, who tells her beno. 1992). dren, and even providing self-study for medical
- coniems; parents and.in-laws are peripheral (T- .- son (e husband) of dre r+iftb concerns. - -
mura & Lau, 1999). The smcture of a family and Political movemenrs create legacies that are
e boundary (if ere is one) around the couple expressed in maniage. Young couples now are the
are defined by at least three to four genemrioni of third generation after the American Depression,
family tradition and ethnicity. and it is no accident that many of rhem ae diven
Generarional an{ gender hierchies are by the job market and frnancial ambition_. Some
culrurally lrrked. The idea I ust expressed-rhar . middle-aged aduls whose parenc were rergees
couples should move roward egalitarianism to the during \orld War II have seen rheir parents sue
extent at their relational symptoms reflect gen- for intemational repacrtion. This historic set of
der inequities-is a Westem concept. The indi- events will creare for some people a shift in social
vidualist societies of e West locate the couole identiry from "second. or third-generation Ameri.
as a unit of leadenhip in the family-, ,o ,y*rn.t can" to a more long-term, healing, self-respectful
rical inteactions are considered ideal (Falicoq view of family history. \le can also expecr ro see
1989). The "united fronC' of two parents making changes in the social class and privilege experi-
decisions abour children stems from the view of enced by families of reparation, who, once impov-
couple as a unir of leadership. In extended.family erished refugees, are able to attain financial privi-
societies, leadenhip is venical across generarions, lege two generations later.
wi lifelong authoriry given to elders. For ex.
ample, Mexican American couples defer to the
parents rhroughout maried life, urtil e parents but not dose
ASSESSIilEI{T 0t CoUPLES
are gone; hence, there is no srage of "personal au-
thority" in one! o',vn manied home (Williamson, Procedures for TG assessment of couples are not F|GURE7.l, Relationshiplnesonagenogram.FromMcColdick,shellenberge,andGerson(1999,p.10)
1981, 1982a, 1982b). Because ofcenturies of male- rvell anicuiated. Several well.researched tests of Copyright 1999 bv .L \. Nonon & Co., lnc. Reprinted by permission.
2r2 I, MODELS OF COUPLE THTRAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 213

students and ther spouses. Assessment includes hoiv she chose her parmer is not looking to explain around it. TG therapies do not bypass central because power affects privilege and resources in a
looking at hisrorical patrems of u:ork, religion, why they met, but rather for a theory that explains complaints. Rathe they use identified problems relatonship. For example, it may be easier for a
and even political affiliation. For example, a hus- the needs, wishes, and drives present in that wife to expand the freld of inquiry into e "macro" woman to claim she has lost sexual desire because
band whose f'amilv has alwa.vs been religious, with for many years before she couned her panner. context of the couple's long-term connection with she is depressed than ro admit she is dissatised
himself being the exception, u'ill probably mean Spouses are asked to describe whether and each other and with the past (Robeno, 199i ). The with her mate. Money and sex are good illustra-
that there is tension between the husband and how kev familv members have eacted to their object is to begin framing the family-of-origin con- tions of how a couple manages power: Are the
his spouse, and his family of origin, and this ten- problem to clarifr whether triangles exist and text immediately, so that one can retum to this decisions democratic, unilateral, obtained unde
sion probablv contributes to the couple's present- need to be addressed. For example, in the classic frame repeatedly while addresing the couple's pressure, hidden, or avoided completely?
ing problem. It is common to 6nd people whose "mother-in.law" triangle, the husband acts disrant problem. To be "emotionally intelligenC' (Schwanz &.
parents, gtandparents, uncles or aunts, and even from his rvife, who tums to her mother for advice, TG erapies utilize classical circular inter- Johnson, 2000), beginning interviews must also
in-laws have all been physicians, businessmen, or following which the husband distances more. Of viewingto identifr unique differences in each include assessrnent of affect. Affective facton in-
milirary officen. course, assessment is not the same process as ther. partner's views. The binocula picture prized by clude the degree of securiry and mlst in e mari-
Whereas in o*rer schools of couple therap ap and not all triangles are targeted for change. systemic erapists emerges easily in initial as- tal bond; presence of negative attributions and/
genogram information is used to look mainly at Howeve creating a "macro" view of key panici- sessment. Each spouse attaches personal mean- or disrespect (two of Gottman and colleagues'
family structure, the TG therapist is looking for pants in a couplet problems helps ensure at a ings to events in the maniage, and these personal "Four Horsemen of e Apocalypse"), signifrcant
multigenerational pattems (e.g., Wachtel, 1982). clinician creates workable goals of change by meanings must be brought into the dialogue. For reactiviry that might stem from frrsion, dissatisfac.
Sometimes pattems of relationship repeat them- understanding the forces around the couple's re. example, a man may personally feel that he has tion, and the desire for change (panicularly when
selvs ver generations without varying:spousal lationship. During. therapy, paticipanrs are alao deliberately tried to depend more on his lover to shown by the more accommodating partner); and
abuse,'poor health, depresion or anxiery', under- more aware of potential extended.family reactions show his trust, whereas his lover believes that his emotions that might be biologically significant
achieiement, abandonmenr and neglect, drug ad- to marital changes. increased dependence is only a temporary reaction (related to mood and physical health). Affective
diction. These pattems feed forward nto maniage Clinicians using genograms for couple assess- to stress. Tlr indvul meanngs auu,lvd m tlw cou- tone gives important clinical information: The
problems, such as distancing, fusion, chonic mis- ment must be culturally competent regarding nor. ple's expuences mewedu thc dynanic cueaf couple words "My parmer asked me to come" mean one
trust, ommunication problems, or triangling in mative family structures. The dynamic markings t^eruyy nhigltight prtner's emotiomlneeds anl
each thing when said with concem, and another ing
rhird parries. for genograms as they cunently exist are culture- the fanib irheriwue fuhh1t tlwn. When the dif- entirely when said in a manner that is flat and dis-
Finally, the clinician looks for critical inci- blind and can imply that some relationships are ferences cause confusion or conflict, e couple is engaged.
dents (e.g., natural disasters), lived uauma or vio- pathological, when in a particular cultural group helped to frame them in ways that are protective Only recently have marriage erapists un-
lence ("common shock." e.g., war; Weinganen, they are normative. For example, in Islamic fami- of the marriage. dentood the importance of a positive affective
2004), and immigration/resettlemenr and other lies, the moer, mother.in-law, and other female Timing of symptoms is very imponant to TG bond to the survival of a maniage. Each school of
social upheavals that have created or challenged relatives are an important support to the wife. In therapies. Once each parmer's view of the prob- TG therapy tends to emphasize cenain domains of
family coping and resilience. a hierarchical famil religion and culture are gov. lems is elicited, the clinician works to consmrcr a information from the clinical intervieq wirh ob-
The clinician uses a couple's first one or two emed by men. Class also inrersects with what TG hypothesis that accounts for their.emergence at the ject relations and ymbolic-+xperiential therapists
sessions to identr$ key 6gures in each family,.of,.. therapists consider' "norrqal" family dynamks. In--.=. gesent.time. Most marital dysftrnction.involves' more focused o ssessment of affeet: fu Wachtet.;
''
origin, formative evenm in each family! past, and poor families, young women bear children young repeated impasses, not isolated or short-term stres- has noted, "Such a focus enables the therapist to,
the history of the marriage. Dynamic markings are fathers are not able to provide resources, and ela- son. The clinician must have a theory about when leam more about what the client values than he
made to indicate proximity and disrance rvith kev tives may become central to their lives as help- and why those impases reached ninaway propor- could disclose consciously" ( 1982, p. 340). Marital
f'amily members and within the dyad, presence of ers, such u child care providers. Poor families are tioru. Many long-term emotional pattens com- therapies need to explore and describe differenr.
fusion or cutoff rhat may be affecting the boundan
'
more likely to experience- chronic srress, fragme-
'tation, , , bine with life stressors to "blow upn a marriage: qpes of affective.bonding more clearly. For ex.j.
around the marrige, and any repefitive parrens unemployment, illness and addiction, vio- uruealistic expecra[ions, feelings ol entirlemenr ample, there are vast differences among e kinds'.
found in more than one generation. For example, lence, obstacles to education, difficulty planning or frustated wishes, low supportiveness or empa- of intensity found in a couple sed together by ( I ) i
rhe .vounger panner in a couple may shou'a pat- childen, and broad lack of access to health cae. th lack ofself-eipression and warmth, legacies of anxiety and dependency, (2) addictive behavior,
tem of alrvavs defening decisions to her spouse, Unless the geno$am contains information about abuse, and maltrearment or losses at color part- and (3) a traumatic bond through mutual aban.
and in he parenrs' maniage, her mother may also class, cultural, religious, and historical differences ners' abiliry to extend trust or be trusrwonhy. donment o survival of loss. More work is neces-
,lefer decisions to he father. at intersect with couple dynamics, the clinician It is important to address the disribution of sary on a rypology of attachment.
The couple is asked for rhcir ou'n narrative runs he risk of pathologi:ing couples insread of power-power to name problems, power to make At the end of the assessment phase, rhe clini-
abour the problem, and horv each spouse perceives understanding their needs and the TG meaning of decisions and to problem-solve, power to make re- cian should have a clear genogam, a descnption
its origin, meaning, and sequence. This rech- their symptoms. quests or claims on one's spouse. Cunently, there of the presenting problem ftom each partner's po.
nique is not Jifferenr frtm other svstemic, eien are no dynamic markings to depict power relation. sition in the maniage, a theory explaining e dif-
ahistoncal therapies. However, TG rhenpists in. ships on a genogram, nor have we a precise lan. ferences in their ideas and resporses to e prob.
Assessng Rel ationa I Qu a I ity :
cerview and observe couples rvith a "rvide.angLe guage to describe power. Assessing the distribution lem, information regarding long-term connibuting
The Clinical lntewiew
lens" (Roberto, 1992) ro inquire and rrack thee- of power in a marriage is as imporrant as assessing factors in the families oforigin, and an idea abour
generational pattems of culture, marital and fam- Each partner is inten'iewed regarding his or her ia affective and functional qualiry. Although some what the parmers wish to change. These ideas ae
ilv structure. and beliefs about maniage. The TG subjective experience of the presenting problem, clients mainain tlLat they do not mind an unequal fed back to the couple in the goal-sening phase of
therapisr ri'ho asks a wiie her rheon- of whv and as uell as the habitual wais rhe parmers interact balance of poweq too often ey avoid e issue, therapy. The therapist must do the following:
214 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 215

o Aticulate mutual r,alues and goals underlving frame, (2) activating and holding "positive anxi. joum during holidays, TG therapies are more like- instructive. As Framo wrote, it is important "that
the pannen' r'iervs of commitment, including ety" about change (Whitaker & Ryan, 1989), (3) ly to hold thmil-v-of-origin consults (see comments the erapist convey in some form that he has ex-
an undentanding of culrural underpinnings of encouraging a multlateral perspectve of prob- later in this chapter) over 2 to 3 consecutive days perienced pain and loss, shame, guilt, and disap-
those r,alues. lems, (4) creating a boundary around the partners while family membes are in town. Such meetings pointment, as well as the exhilaration and jols of
r Articulate anv differences or conflicts between and their relationship work, and (5) creating a are usually 7 o 2)l hours in length to allow for a living. ... lt is just as unwise to support the fantasy
spouses' closely held beliefs and family legacies. shared meaning about the origin and nature of the meanngful dialogue about past events and impor- of the therapist's life as ideal as it is ro overburden
Describe the position of each spouse in his or problem. By agreeing to ongoing work, a couple tant, unresolved family issues. clients with one's own problems" ( 1981, p. 147 ).
her family of origin regarding imponant family in TG thenpy also creates time to investigate Use ofselfconnotes the possibiliry ofchange
issues and experiences. and undersmnd formative family-of-origin experi- for therapy couples, because the therapist is com-
. Predict horv these positions will shift if the part. ences. This mediaring goal that may at rst seem ROTE OF T}|E THERAPIST municating thoughts and actions regarding events
ners solve their problem. inelevant to the cunent problem becomes clearer. n and out of the therapy session that may differ
The Therapeutic Alliance
. Ally with each spouse in a way that creates a For example, a man with a chronically alcoholic from those of the spouses. The therapist's com-
basis.of trusr for doing couples work and initiat. parent is unable consistently to set limits on his A strong, compassionate, "patial" (in contextual ments include a high degree ofdsclosure, but they
lng cnange. involvement in his spouset drinking. He may be therapy terms) alliance is pivotal in this type ofcou- ae selected deliberately and thoughtfully. Isues
asked to explore whether he believes that recovery ple work. Putiality replues rcutralq. A TC focus shared with a couple must be resolved issues to be
is possible without his help, considering the fact opens up the therapy conversation to emotionally useful, so it is best not to share information that
SETIII{G TRIITiIEI{T GOALS that his own parent never sought help. laden ssues in a way that requires a high degree of is anxiety-provoking oi confusing to the therapist.
Like od'rer rypes of couple therapies, TG trusr in the therapist. Spouses discussing stories of Ideall they are well-digexed thoughts that while
TG couple work seela to achieve greater relation- therapies hold that ultimate goals of change are abandonment, illness, conflict and berayal, abuse, minoring or paralleling a couplek dilemmas hold a
ship competence, enhance self.knowledge and created by couple and erapist together. These los, and stressful family loyalties are looking at a view that leads to a solution. The therapist's self-
self-esteem, increase partners' confidence at can vary widely: greater autonomy; decrease in dimension of experience that feels far more wl- disclosure does not have to be a lived experience,
they can solve rheir own problems, and help the ligha and tension; greater intimacy, including nerable than that in problem- or solution-based but can be a metaphor, an idea, an echo of the
dyad support imporranr individual and murual de- sexual intimacy, support of career, work, and per- talk. The therapist is a participant from irside e clients' thoughts, a reflection, a wish, or an imag-
velopmental tasks (Robeno, 1992). The TG e- sonal development; greater self-esteem and effec- therapeutic triad, helping to create and protect a native vision.
apist recommends a relational thenpy even when tiveness; commitment; empathy and nurturance; safe environment to expand symptoms into their
the problem appears individually based. Even and a decision whether or not to have children. Ir deeper relational context. If neutrality means that
though the general public is bener informed about has been noted that ultimate goals are sometimes no member, after a session, can tell whose side the A RH.AT|0!SI||P tlr STAGTS
the value of spouse.assisted counseling for severe difficult to aniculate clearly (Whitaker & Kei, therapist is on, then partality means at, after a
emotional disorden (e.g., mood and thought dis- session, each member knows that the therapist is TG rherapies unfold in sages as a couple's ftame-
1981): A couple may know only that they "arent
orders), coming to therapy together can be daunt- on his or her side- Systemic neucraliry, e position work moves fiom the particular (evena at home)
getting along," "aren't close anymore," or "don't
ing. And, often rhe serious concems seem to be of therapists holding circular interviews, does not to the larger system (their families of origin), and
have sex." Discusion of crucial family experiences
fr_om the hsre and now (recurring conflicts) to the
one!.own burden. A common example of this is and legacies help parmers to make sense of the . build the panial, concemed alliance oecessary.
sexual dysli.rnction: Many clienrs assume thar they painful isues playing out berween them. The streng of paniality provides "anese- longer term (beliefs about maniage, themselves,
will explore and resolve physical and emotional sia fo the operation," as Whitake called it. It is and their union). The structure moves from high
Problem-focused couple erapy addresses
symptoms about sexuality individually with a one problem or d prioriti:ed list ofclearly delinear. only when the therapist can offer an affective con- to low, the therapist moves from a cenual postion
therapist, en take home what they have leamed. ed problems. However, this means anoer course nection that spouses in therapy feel empowered toward the periphery interventions move from di-
In reality, both parmers have to communicae of erapv in the future, if there are other problems to work on their affective connection. Finallv, ective to nondireqtive, and use of self increases
about their sexual needs. lhitaker refened to two (tlatzlawick, 1984). TG marital erapy aims to go asNapier commented (1983), it is a mark of our (Roberto,'1991). This is not as true of Bowen
decision poinrs in planning MFT: the "battle for beyond symptoms to increase a couple's relation- commitment to a caring and humane sociery that erap but even in natural systms therapv, as
structure" and the "battle for initiative" (Napier & ship competence. The therapy must strengthen therapists offer kndness and compassion rather clients go home to visit their families and work
Whitaker, 19i8). The term "banle for structure" frustworthiness, consideration, understanding and than rhe distanr "expert" stance, to the clients on diffusing triangles, the ensuing debriefings and
is a somewhar adversarial way to describe how the speaking up for personal beliefs and needs, toler. who entrust to them their love relationships. insights probably change a therapist! role toward
therapist and clienm agree to include the relation- ance for differences, muoal respect, nufturance, less directiveness.

ship as the unit of change arher than one of the and idenrification. I call this goal "restoration." In early-stage work, the "battles for structue
Use of Self: Therapeutic Tnnsparency and initiative" take place as the therapist recom-
partners alone. In the TG therapy model, because the course
There are two npes ofgoals. I have made the of therapy is intermediate-term, sessions are often Pan of exercising partialiry means that the TG mends couple sessions and creates a stting in
distinction previously between mediating goals held les often-npically everv 2 weeks-so that therapisr has to be actively engaged and person- which parmen focus on their relationship. Dur-
and ultimate goals in systemic work (Robeno, paftners can rrtegrate a larger perspective. con- ally responsive, which calls for a cenarn amounr ing this time, panners are encouraged to begin
1991, p. 454). ln intermediare-length therapr', ract amily.of.origin members and hold visits, and of tnnsparency (Roberto, 1992). In the early sellstudy of their maniage, genogmms are made,
unlike briet, symptom-tbcused rherap.l', 6li.rtt have time to focus on self. Therapv may extend symbolic-experiential literaure, "use of self ' meant family histories are taken, and the maniage is ex-
and c[ent couple can take the rime to evolve an from l-12 months in length; therefore, rvhereas "rransparency." The clinician shares fragmena of amined from each panner's standpoint. The mid-
ongoing, deep personal bond. In this therapeu- brief therapl may conclude after 3-10 sessions, experience, penonal reflections, and teaching sto- phase ofcouple work aims to reorganize parmers'
tic riangle, "mediaring goals" of therapv include TG therapies mav ake from 10 to 14 sessions. ries (Robeno, 1991) to deepen, expand, or enter undentanding ofkey problems in a newlv expand-
( 1 ) expanding the presentrng problem into a TC
Howeve, unlike mosr couple therapies rhar ad- into a dialogue in a wav rhar is intimae but also ed. relational, context. Use of self communicaes
216 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY
7, Transgenerational Couple Therapy 217

that the clinician understands the complexiry of that for other clinicians. Dysfunctional, reacrive,
seling. It reflects e orientation that " .... When Siblings are sometimes reluctant to attend
intimare relating, the difficulty of accepting and "stuck," conflicoal, disengaged, or
ineffecrive
... adults are able to go back to deal directly wirh a consult. V/hen this occurs, it is most probably
changing oneself, and the ilux berween intimacy responses and the cycles around those responses
their parents and brothers and sisters about the because the client in marital therapy has formed
and autonomy. Each partner becomes more clearlv are always the target of couple work. The thera-
previously avoided issues that have existed be- an ambivalent relationship wi that sibling, or
defined: self in relarion to rhe orher. pist watches to see which spouse names the prob-
tween them, an opponunity exists for reconstnc. because that sibling is even more distresed by the
Late-stage couple work calls for less therapist lems and which one defers, elicits their individual
tive changes to come about in eir marital rela. family than rhe client. It is imponant to expend all
coaching. At this point, rhe partners can obsewe theories about underlying tension and differences,
rionship" (1981, p. 114). k is importanr ro note means to bring about sibling participation. Later,
themselves responding to one another wirhout the and observes how they handle the differences. For
that consults are rarely requested by e couple. the bond fomed by is visit may become a power-
erapistt help. They are usually reporting progress example, if their s'ymptom is distance and cold-
They are a tool initiated by e therapist in mid- ful means of support for the client, one that may
Ln .aeas of intimacy, disclosure, self-knowledge, ness, the therapist notes what happens when one
phase couple work. have been absent since childhood, and create an
and mutuality, and can identifi' and discuss flash- spouse ties to attract attention, and whether one
Family.of-origin consults ca usually occur alliance that meets needs e client once expected
points u they push themselves and each other or both spouses rry to engage each other, and how
only once or rwice during couple therapy because in the maniage.
toward change. Parmers create innovative ways this is done. Their strucual characterlstics- of distance and cost. They can be scheduled in At the coruult, the client is asked to describe
of supporting their own and the other's needs ad distance, fusion, disengagement or cutoff, conflict
2-hour segments on Z consecutive days, although for the family the problems that brought him or
requests-often in ways that the erapisr could or pseudomutualiry-are noted.
they have also been organized fo entire extended her to couple counseling. Because this is a mid-
not have predicted. They are a flexible system
a week (!hitaker, personal com.
families for up to phase technique, the client usually explains his or
that generates its own solutions, and the clinician
serves more as a sounding board.
fncki n g Antecede nE : Tni I i ng munication, October, 1979). Meetings are not her subjective difficultie coping with streses in
strudtued with therapeutic task, but are orlanized their marriage. The mily is encouraged to discus
A TG therapist tracks presenting problems with
around makng intergenerational connections vis- what they know of their childt difficulties and to
an eye toward antecedent events in the couplet
ible, explicit, and available for discusion. ask questions, so that the focus is frrmly placed on
PR()CSS AlID TECHIIICAT ASPECTS life and the parmen' own lives with their fami-
Couples in therapy expenence extreme anxi- their child. Every consult is unique in its emotion-
lies of origin. It is like watching a "uailing cursor"
Creaffng a Tnnsgenenonal Fnme ety about bringing parents in, and the idea should ality, pace of dirusion, degree of openness and
on a computer mouse, looking to see where it has
be "seeded" for at least a month prior to the meet. disclosure, panicipation, and historical perspective
Eatlier,:l explained genogramming as an assessmenr come from and where it is going. I call this'trail-
ihg. There are usually many reservations that need (Framo, 1981). Some families need 2 days just to
tool. It is albo a.reaching tool in early therapy (Ro- ing." Tiailing antecedents uses a time frame of up
to be worked through regarding whether the par- acknowledge that their son or daughter might be
beno, 1992; Wachtel, 1982). When shared with to two, or even ttfee, generations.
ents (and siblings, if posible) should attend. In having relatioruhip problems and at family isues
the cople, it is-a technique of change, because Tiailing inquiries do not replace discusion
itself, experiencing this anxiety and smrggling to might be involved. Othen begin with a request for
it adds to pnnen' sense of "where they are each of altemative ways partners can approach rela-
come to terms with it directly challenges a client's help from a parent that opens the way immediately
coming fiom.r The mutual self.disclosure and will- tionship problems. Rather, a trailing quesrion ac-
illusion that the spouse is causing all ofhis or her for a deep and sincere discusion. The meeting can
ingnes to exirose vital and often unprocesed in- knowledges another dimension ofa clientt experi-
disuess. One family of origin is brought in at a be audiotaped or videotaped, and there should be
formation alse has a healing quality. Creating the ence. Tiailing keeps parmers located on their TG
time. Whereas some TG therapists do not include an a$eement ttut all family rnembers who wish to
genogramftiidolates erapi.rt and Clients to think rnap. The experience 9f trail-rg babk from com-
the ryouse (Framq-197, 1981), othen.blieve may receive a coy, includi.Iu.absent members.. ,
about extendd family issues, and contributes to plaints to antecedents makes people feel that they
that observing can $eatly aid clariry and under- Although couples do not explicitly connect j'
forming cohnetiordfugeen events in the ma- are "gening to the root of things." The spouse gets
standing in the maniage (Roberto, 1992). When ihanges in their families of origin to progress n i
riage and the legacies that came before. a sense that there is an entire family and its mm-
anending, the spouse is invited to sit in withour their maniage, consults add depth to their un-
Genograms enable family members ro devel- bers'histories behind a loved one's behavor, and it
participating, because unresolved family issues are derstanding of the rclational problems they have ft.
op a metaperspective together about their history. makes more sense. Sparring decreases, and context
easily displaced onto. a son- or daughter-in-law. brought into rhei commiunent. There is tes oth- Fi
Gaining perspective helps t calm interuiry and and mutual understanding increas. For example,
Family conzults are ananged by dre parmer er-focus, more self-observation and investment in I'
may help to diffixe a crisis atmosphere in couple a woman who hean in session that her parmer
who is preparing for the visit. The inviation can change, and greate self-respect after a consult is ',
work when ere are "hoC'conflicts, such as af- was criticized by his family for leaving school may
be 6amed as: an invitation to parents to help move held. This is tnre even though the consult itself 7:
fairs, religious differences, parenring problems, or understand more clearly that his low suppoft for
therapy forward by giving the family's viewpoint or may be painful or complicated. Seemingly little .l;
extreme complementariry. Where there is a power her recent promorion does not reflect lack of car-
to help clarify imponant family issues while ther movement creates a very different view ofself, and {:
imbalance in the relarionship, genogramming ing, but an unresolved conflict abour being seen as
son or daughter is in therapy. Family memben are of self-in-relationship.
"levels the playing field," so that both parmen equally worthy.
told at they will not be made into clients by the
must look at both srrengths and challenges in their
therapist; rather, they are ]rere to give the era-
past lives. Finally, mapping the hmily of origin can &thanci ng hnonal Authority
increase a feeling ofconfidence that symptoms are
Fa m i Iy - of -Origi n Consu lts pist imponant history. TG therapists agree on the
crucial importance of respecting the generational "Penonal auoriq/ in the family system (Wil- r:
not random but are irutead responses to ongoing There are few tools so clarifring to a couple ther.
boundary and do not demote parens in the eyes of liamson, 1981, 1982a, i982b) is defined as the
family issues. Therefore, it is one core technique. apist as a family-of-origin consult. When a mari.
rheirgrown children. While awaiting the visit, the ability to discem and use one's own opinions and '
tal parmer sits in ro wimess a meeting between judgment, to choose whether or not to express
husband or wife in therapy is asked to reflect on
Tncking Problem Cycles the spouse and the spousei paren* anflor sib-
personal concems and issues in the marriage that oneself, to hold a metapenpective on relation-
lings, at clarity is even moe powerful. Framo
may be connected to previous experiences wi ships, to take resporsibility for one's actions and
If oneaslcs rvhere a TC clinician's focus is dunns a produced a body of*ork (1976, 1981) on his ex-
the family. These key experiences become pan of beliefs, to choose whether and when to be close to
therapy session. the answer rvould be rhe sam. u periences in meeting families of couples in coun-
the material for rhe inten'iews. someone, and to neat elders as peers. Williamson!
218 I, MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple fherapy 2r9

rvork on personal authorirl'hinges on rhe idea that to ask important famili questions. There s usu- normally suppressed. When rvomen in families are problems is experienced as too intimate and as

many marital impasses reflect intergenerational allv a least one visir home, in which the clienr marginalized fom the executive unit, they are ex- evidence ofpenonal nadequac-v. A Jewish couple
intimidation and failue to develop an aduk rela- talks one.on-one rvith each parent, then with both pecred to accept the decisions of others and not rhat prides itself on famil.v accomplishments may
tionship with self (1981). This rheory holds that, parents about their earl.v lfe and experiences with show "negativity." Therefore, in trust relation- feel shame after discussing job problems o destruc-
bv midiife, there is a normative life.cvcle ransi- love relationships. The object is for rhe client to ships, women seek openly to admit the opinions tive behavio such as spousal abuse or addiction.
tion that involves ending e hierarchv with one's see the parents as real people. and concems that they are expected to suppress A japanese pair may feel they have "lost tace" after
parents and moving toward an adult-adult con- When the client is no longer relucrant to dis- dailv. From this point of view, it is imponant to voicing complaints about each other or eir ex-
nectlon. cuss parent{hild issues, a family.of-origin consulr encourage this avenue to intimacy for women and tended family. Cultural competence requires that
An unrecognized power issue, the investment is held to propose changes and to discuss them. As to teach men to respect and value eir wives' wish the clincian understand his or he role in relation
of lifetime authority in parents, produces a tilt in with any other family consult, the partner ideally to engage rhem in honest conversation. to families that are culturally different. Aaend-
the familv's distribution of power that limits the should attend; he or she will have the opportunity In addition to integrating affect into therapy, ing to partiality includes asking couples for their
personal sense of choice. The term "intimidation" to view signifrcant issues that he or she previously TG therapies consider contextual and experiential consent to discuss specific issues, and for feedback
refers to the reluctance we feel about challenging has only heard about secondhand. It may be the learning as curative. The encounter between part- about their willingness to disclose each subject.
parents, family history, and rhe values with which first time that a woman's depression, or a man's ners and the clinician, who participates, as well as Court-mandated marital therapv is compli-
we wee reaed (Roberto, 1992). \illiamson sug- distancing, is completely visible in the conrexr conducts, the sessions, increases their awarenes cated by the fact at the therapist is a representa-
gests that in middle adulthood, the generational in which it originally formed. Ir may be the focal of altemative ways to solve problems. Therapist tive of social control. The therapist in this situa-
hierarchy of the fim half of our lives has to be point at which a clent finally lets go of blaming ansparency has unique qualities that model dis- tion must wok hard to hold the boundary beween
terminated, leaving in its place an egalitarian, the mate for marital problems. As Paul (1967) closure and self-acceptance raer an justifca- legitimate community concems (e.g., personal or
mutual, give-and-take elationship. Oerwse, pointed our, facing loss has profound potential to tion and defensiveness. The processes ofgenognm public safety) and legitimate couple concems.
that hierarchy creates pressures via old legacies unlock personal resources for solving problems in work, and family-of-origin visits and consults, These couples benefrt ftom raruparency, which
(unesolved issues) and delegations (unlived and maniage and personal life. crete metaperspectives on recuning problems. enables the therapist to express the wish to help

transfened expectarions; see Stielin, 1981; Stier- Like rhe "connect the dots" puzzle in which the partners sengthen the relationship and protect

lin et al., 1971). It is an enormous challenge to solution is a single iine leading orr*idr the group themselves and each other of further intervention
CURATilE FACTORS of dots, a TG perspecdve allows couples to rework from legal or community agencies. Mainraining a
"leave home" in the sense ofseeing and relating to
parents as peers instead of authoriw frgures (Wil-
their marital connection in ways that are "oumide" TG Famervork for couple work does not preclude
Historically, couple and family therapy has never their previous cycling repertoires. use ofsafety conrracts, setting the terms and limits
liamson, 1981).
been comfonable with emotions. The models that of outpatient erapy (e.g., procedures for emer-
A husband in his early 6(b developed a psychotic depres- dominated their early development (structural gency calls), creating a safe home thnough setting
N egave Then peutic Reacti o n s
sion wi zuicidal thoughts; left h wife, children, and and strategic) were aimed primarily at changing of rules, and other basic security needs. These
grandchildren; and begn living with a young woman he behavior pattems and, through reframing, e cog- Freud (1937/1964) first coined the term "negative techniques add to the client's view that the thera-
met in a shop, several yem after his om father disinher nirions that maintained them. Increasingly, due to therapeutic reaction" (p. 243), refening to interxe pist cares about his or her welfare.
ited him and died, following which his mother eftued to adv_ances in neurobiology and attachment theory, negative emotions that spike after discusing ma-
oppose the will and give him i share bf rhe'inhritance. tdid ih a rherapist.'Couples frequentli exiidri-=
emotionaliry is being viewed as the underpin- Applicability of Tn nsgenentional Methods
ning of adaptive behavior and a positive organiz- ence negative effects during and after meetings
Couples commonly come for courueling in ing force in human functioning (Damasio, 1994; that focus on painful subjects. In my experience, Whitaker commented that, when interviewing
response to one o both spouseJ exploitation of the stress of couple work exceeds the sress of fam- a coupie whose cultural legacy is different from
Johnson &. Greenberg, 1994). TG therapies, with
their maniage to conform to stagnanr family re- the exception of Bowen techniques, acknowledge ily therapy, in which cliens can perceive respon- onet own, it is best to use a cotherapist with the
lationships (e.g., expecting a parme! to help care and urilize the emotions thar arise thrgh bond- sibility for change as shared among parents and' same heritage as the couple. The decline in use
for a {iail parent bur refusing to give care oneself). ing, and use them as motivators for change. children. For some clients there is great anxiery of coerapy and Fearment teams outside training
llilliamson's belief is that couples must give up tfhen clients listen to
their own subjective related to verbalizing intentions or reactions that institutes is related to insurance industry restric-
their expectation of geaing approval, and thei responses in a dialogue with each othe reflec- have never been voiced in their maniage, espe- tions on therapy benefits. In the 1990s, standards
irnage of the parents as dispensers of approval. tions, emotions, beliefs, and recolleced behavior cially in Westem societies, where maniage is a ofpractice moved toward every clinician establish-
The technique for creating and enhancing are integrated (Schwarz &Johnson,2000). If emo- voluntary contract and our rates of separation and ing and exercising a personal knowledge base, to
personal authoriry is a coaching technique, in tions cany constructive messages, as research indi- divorce are high. Other clients find the intensity the degree possible, for undersunding and attend-
which the client beguu ro seek more information cates, adding them ro therapeuric dialogue helps of the process overwhelmng-for example, an ing to cultural differences. To date, this awareness
about rhe parenr as an aging indvidual and ro each panner "get the message." Anger can be seen overaccomodating spouse who "smoothes overn has nor extended to religious differences. Couple
moum the end of the parent's protection (or the as a demand for change; sadness, as loss; pleasure, con{icts, or a rigid, walled-off spouse who is un- and family work has tended to split off religious
wish tbr it). The client examines his or her lifelong as the hope and oy of connection. Convenarion accustomed to integrating emotional information. discusion to the clergy or self-identified pastoral
perceptions of the parenr, exploring rhese images that includes personal responses helps to evoke What appean matter-of.fact or easily voiced to a counselos, and this schism can be seen clearly in
and how thev aose (Williamson, 1982a). Meet- in clients the respect and acceptance *rar couple clinician mav be exuemelv difficult tbr clients to the histories of the rwo major Nonh American
ings focus on the reladonship rvith each parent therapisrs Jesire-it increases intimacy. acknowledge. family associations (e Ameican Association for
and the changes that need to occur ro move the There ae gender differences in expression Some couples feel shamed by the disclosure Marital and Family Therapy and AFIA). In the
relationships forward into the here and now The of affect at need to be considered. Women mav of marital problems. For example, in a European 6eld as a whole, spirituality has been relegated to
client rvorks to express him. or henelf clearly and tend to value expression of emotion because it is American Protestant couple, discussing sexual the margiru u a erapeutic resouce and as a cul-
7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 221
220 , MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY

rural identity issue. The TG clinician needs care- and their religious communiry or therapy may fail. Keith saw hirnself as the "differenr," more
tory professo was more uneasy-although they
rlly to ascenain rvhether a couple has cultural or Interactionally based and ahistorical therapies are atistic member of his hardworking New England had always gotten along, they seemed to exchange
spiritual needs that are more effectively sen'ed by Iikely to ask clients to "put the maniage frrst," or family', the product of a closely bonded couple that
onl-v good news on the phone now and she felt a

a clinician who has the same cultural heritage or to "make a boundary around the maniage." We manied out ofhigh school and had high expecta- conrsing lack ofdesire to be more disclosive.
religious communi4'. believe that, if properly applied, TC therapy is rions for him and his brothers. The youngest child, In Karen's lirst maniage, she u'as shatteed o
It is commonly thought that relational, dy- unrqaell relevant for these families, because one! Keith described his fathe as a no-nonsense rades- discover at her husband had conducted a secret
namic therapies require intellectual or academic place in onei family is respected contextually. manforwhomwealthwasthemosrimportantgoal affair after falling in love with someone he met
achievement and self-observation or insight. In for his sons, and his morher as concemed mainly at work. Although she had ried to stay after the
fact. some of the TG theories. as well as foster for his fathe's happiness and her sons' achieve- discovery o save the maniage, he later told her
care and community menml health agencies and CASE ITLUSTRATI(}II ments. His father had died suddenlv ofheart fail-
that he felt the relationship had been a mistake
therapeutic schools, were created from hospital- ure;Keithhadnothadtimetosaygoodbyetohim. and that his lover "needed him more than she
based work in large metropolitan areas comprising Karen and Keith, two previously divorced pro- He spoke to his mother only wice a year-before ever had." To her added honor, their son Kevin
a specmrm ofcultures, social classes, and religions. fessionals in their 40s, requested couple therapy the Jewish High Holy Days and around her binh-
had elected to live with his faer after the couple
For example, symbolic-experiential theory was 3 years into their counship. Alough they con- day-and described his relationships with both
nally divorced, and she felt he sided wi father
developed at Emory Univenity in Atlanta, Geor- sidered themselves a committed couple and spent pui.nt ,. distantly polite. Keith had two older and stepmother whenever she confronted him
gia, and Univesiry of Wisconsin in Madison. The much time together and with their respective Borh
brothers living close to their morher's home. about his choice, which was often.
clinics atUniversity of \ilisconsin, located in the families (visits with parents and children), they were professionals: a high*takes lawyer in a fast. lt was difficult for Karen and Keith to give
capftl ierve families at include rural Lutheran did not live together. Both stated in the initial cracklitigation pracrice, and a physician. He did their histories in front of each oer, and at one
families of Swedish derenr, farming families, interview that they were noubled by a number of nor feel respecred by either ofthem. point Keith asked if they could give history sepa'
urbaa families, survivalist and cultist families liv- relationship problems. Keith, a musician and band His frst marriage was to rhe high school rately. He seemed to want more response from the
ing iir irnote rural areas, Gech families that his- leader, felt that he did not get as much ofKaren's sweetheart with whom he grew up with and who, female therapist, and said that his concem was
torically migrated to its industrial cities for jobs, attention as he would like when he was off work he assumed, would give him the affection and "looking bad" in front of Karen and her fam[1',
health care profesionals, poor families, and clients during e day, and there was constant bickering, acceprance he craved. Keith gradually felt alien- whom he angrily dubbed "The Perfects." Because
with cluonicschizophr-enia and addiction. in which Karen insistently took his words and acts ated, b.c"use she had more career advancement there did not seem to be dangerous (e.g., abuse-
TG erapies hav a unique capaciry to ad' as personal insults and malicious slights. He could and made more money than he, and did not seem related) history he was asked to work with Karen
dress gender-based problerns common in Westem not seem to please her. Kaen, the diector of a to show appreciarion. This relationship was de- in the room. The couple was given the framework'
maniage. For men, the oppomrnity ro explbre e nonprofit agency, wonied that Keith refused all so- scribed as riginally quite close, but evenrually that hearing each oert challenges and needs
relationship with their parents is precious. It is ex- cial invitations, showed little warmth rc her chil- disrant-conflicmal. His ex-wife had asked fo a wouldhelpthemtounderstandeachotherinadif-
traordinarily moving to see a man who has been dren, and exhibired a lack ofsocial experience and divorce in their 30s, seemingly as soon as rheirferent way. They were also encouraged to consider
withdrawn and unresponsive begin to examine refinement that she atnibuted to his blue,collar daughter Krista graduated ftom high school. His that although, after 3 years, it.might seem that
his relationship with his parents and realize that background. The result of these tensions rvas a ex-wife confirmed all of his feelings that he was they knew each other inside and out, each was at-
rn:pushing away his wife,,he hu pushed away panem obeing overly careful (pseudomutuality) unyglue.d when she sued for, a4d got, most of therJ .i$rting motives to the other th1.yei9 probably
the most imponant and intimate relationship of when approaching each other, marked by a lack of .uritul u5trl .ir home, .u. their pets. e inccu.ate and ionterprouctive. liiigued and':
"nd
his adult life. For women, whose focus may be on spontaneity and rapidly decreasing sex, combined saw Krista as disrespecrful and superfrcial, feeling challenged, they began to work together.
connection to the exclusion of their intemal ex- with anger in Karen and depression in Keith. thar she had looked down on him as a breadwin- The frfth session was used to assess the part.:'
perience, family-of ongin work creates a venue to Both had become disuessed enough that they ner and was too materialistic, and he usually felt ners'goals for their work. They asked for (1) help
reexamine thei own needs and wishes. t'eared they would never be able to live together depressed when he and Karen saw her on holidays. to 6nd some way of relating to each other instead'r
There are complexities with therapy for cou- without re relationship deteriorating. In facr, Keithlivedinasmall,undecotted,uncomfortable bf'disconnecting with disinterest and boredom;'
aparrmenr fumished with his business equipment, (2) help in discusing Karen's job offer; and
(3.f
ples from Middle Eastem, lndian and Pakistani, Karen had received an exciting job offer ftom a
and Asian and Southeast Asian families. Cultural larger nonprofrt in the nearby capital, and won- h. did not socialize. help n constructing a social life as a couple.with'
^.td
groups at ascribe power to parents and previ- deed ifshe should take it. Karen, in contrast, described her childhood their families, children, and friends. The therapist
ous generations are sensitive to any intervention Both panners also said at ey had been as magical. She and her younger brother had been noted that the process of four sessions devoted to
that may appear to lay blame on family elders. miserable in their ftrst marriages, and that their goodfriends,andtheirpopulaiparents---oldeac- family-of-origin and marital history had already
The maniage may actually be at the behesr of the spouses had left them. Because of the ctronicity of ademic people-had kept the house full of visiting opened a window into both spouses' pain, disap-
parents. In some societies, as mentioned earlie their relationship problems and the severitv of rhe colleagues, ftiends, andneighbon. All the adults pointments, and underlying needs and wishes fo
couples are not viewed as a unit of rwo at all, on cunent discord, the frrst four sesions were devoted e rwo children. She believed themselves and their family life.
seemed to dote on
an,; rung of the familv hierarchy. Power here is not to exploring familv-of-origin and relationship his- thatshehadneveriacedadvenity.Shehadexpect- Mediating goals of TG therapy call for ex'
really defined by generarions of fami\', bur rarher tory up to the present day'. A session was devoted ed to and had done well at college and "fell inro" pandingthe focus oftherapy ro its largerfamily'of-
from outside, as a reflection ofreligious traditions to gathering family.of-odgin and previous marital her nonprot ob rough her father! connec- origincontextratherthanpathologizingthecouple
that venerate authorit-v and duty, as well as soci. historv from each parner, wi the other present rions, rviihout hating to stress over a job relationship. Therefbre, in the six through 10th
search.
etal mores. There ae profound implications in to observe. In genograms created for each spouse, Shedescribedherrelatronshipwithherparentsas sessions (the "midphase"), the couple was asked
ese differences for couples' awareness and com. they were asked ro think abour and droose the "quite close" and spoke ro em often. They were to consider what legacies (unresolved iarnily-of'
mitment to their connection as dyads. They must dynamic markings that described each significant a Lt perplexed by her choice of Keith x a partner. origin patterns) they had canied with ther into

be reated in erap.v as a segment of their familv relatioruhio. Her irnenr relarionship rvith her broher. a his-
their first marriages and into this courtship. Karen
222 I. MODELS OF COUPLE THERAPY 7. Transgenerational Couple Therapy 223

began to focus on the familiar, gratih'ing, arten. she felt she had contributed to the breakup by see- how he wished to conibute, and decided instead (Eds.), Handbook offcmill therapl (pp. I 59-186). New

tion that her parents had gamered for themselves ing herself and the past as perfect. She asked her on a satisfying personal gift that he checked out York, Brunner/llazel.
and their children, and admitted hat it had left Bowen, )vf. ( 1974). Toward the differentiation of self in
parents to see her as a real person and to acknowl- with his grateful daughter. He now felt dignilied,
one's or"n family of origin. In F. Andres &. J. Lorio
he intolerant of disagreements, disconnected edge thar she had been raised in a somewhat sell respect-worthy and content, able to handle Kaen
(Eds.), Geogetun Family Slrnposia (Vot. 1). l0lash-
when not catered ro, and easily hustrated. llith congratulatory, selt.righteous manner. Her parents in an assertive but warm manner, and the couple ington, DC: Georgetorvn lvfedical Center.
active input provided by Keith and the therapist, responded bv opening up the life experiences that felt ready to terminate therapy and continue their Bowen, M. (1985a). The use of family theory in clinical
she recognzed her paaem ofplaying out her sense had drven each of them to seek constant approval life together. practice. In M. Bowen (Ed.), Fani\ erot inclinico)
of leamed entitlement wth both Keith and Kevin, and entenainment, while neglecting personal time
acace (3rd ed., pp. 14?-181 ). Nonhvale, NJ: Aron-
and their reactions of hun and withdrawal. The with their childen. She and Kei made a trip to son. (Original work published 1966)
therapist worked with Karcn to examine specifi- visit her brother and his wife and children, where I{f)TE Bowen, M. (1985b). On the differentiation of self. ln
cally how her patem of responding during con- Karen spoke with him about their childhood years M. Bowen (Ed.), Fani\ tlvrapl inclinicoJprutice (3rd
flicts was to privilege her onn feelings, to assume 1. This chapter refers to committed couples, inespective ed., pp. 46?-528). Northvale, NJ: Aronson. (iginal
and gathered her brother's memories of imponant
ofsexual orientation, as spouses. work published anonymouly l9?2)
that e oer was inadequare, and to make de- family events that had previously been ignored
mands that hlittled and disempowered her loved and whitewashed. For example, he disclosed thar Bowlby, l. (19691. Attatlwtcrt and loss: Vol. 1. Amch-
men. New York Basic Books.
ones. their father had been briefly manied some years SUGGESTIOTIS FOR TURTIIER REAIIIIIG Bowlby, J. $973). Attarhnmt and los: !bl. 2. Separa-
Keith became aware that he avoided taking before marrying their mother, and that he had left
tion: Anxkty andanger. New Yok: Basic Books.
risks and held on to people and things that made his young ex.wife and their baby because he did Roberto, L. G. (1992). Trorvgermamd drercpies. New Braverman, S. (1981). Famly of origin: The view ftom
him feel successful andsecue, because he had not not find her supponive enough. York Guilford Pres. the parents' side. Fmi\ Proces,20, 431437 .
felt secure as a young person. Underlying comperi- Keith was assigned to (1) tell Karen clearly Roberto, L. G. ( 1998), Transgenerational frmily erapy. Brown-Standridge, M. D., & Floyd, C. W. (2@0). Heat-
tiveness and resentment of the successes of oth- and flrmly what he expected and needed ftom her In E M. Datillio (Ed.), Case saes in cwple urd.farn|1 ing bittenweet legacies: Revisiting contextual fam-
ers, which had emerged eryecially with women, as his mate; (2) share his views with his mother ,lerpt (pp. 257-277). New York: Guilford Pess. ily therapy for grandpuents raising grandchildren
\ihitaker, C. A., & Ryan, M. C. (1989). Mnighr mra-
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