Issues In Counselling Couples

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Issues in Counselling Couples

Issues in Counselling Couples

Issues in Counselling Couples


Couple counselling presents unique challenges in terms of interpretation and application of ethical principles to psychosocial research. In marital and couple counselling, researchers must evaluate benefits versus harms for the family as a unit, for all individual family members who are participating, and perhaps even for family members who are not participating. This paper highlights important ethical dilemmas that arise in couple counselling. Our basic assumption is that in couple counselling, we must consider the application of ethical regulations, standards, and laws from a systemic level. Such consideration means having respect for the autonomy of the family unit as well as for the separate individuals, recognizing family members' impact on one another, and appreciating that participation in research is only one event within a continuously unfolding history of the family. In this article, we describe how couple counselling requires special application of fundamental ethical issues, such as confidentiality, privacy, and informed consent. We also examine ethical considerations in reporting abuse and using Certificates of Confidentiality, and in specific research designs and methodologies commonly used in couple counselling, such as direct observation, intervention studies, and longitudinal designs, as well as newer computer-assisted technologies.

Egan's skilled helper model

This is a 3-stage model or framework offered by Egan as useful in helping people solve problems and develop opportunities. The goals of using the model are to help people 'to manage their problems in living more effectively and develop unused opportunities more fully', and to 'help people become better at helping themselves in their everyday lives.' The Egan model aims to help the speaker address 3 main questions:

1. 'What is going on?'

2. 'What do I want instead?'

3. 'How might I get to what I want?'

Stage 1 - The present scenario

Help clients identify, explore, and clarify their problem situations and unused opportunities

Step 1A: The story

In order to help clients, they need to tell their story. What are the problems? Have they missed opportunities and what are they? Many times clients come to see guidance workers because they cannot get their heads round a particular problem, they are confused about particular issues, or they do not have all the pieces for the full picture. Guidance workers help clients to clarify the issues therefore enabling them to progress to the next stage of developing goals and strategies . As Egan puts it 'the outcome of this step, then, is a frank discussion of the 'facts of the case'.

Step 2B: Identifying and clarifying blind spots

We all have our unique perspectives on life based on our personal experience and knowledge. These tend to shape our beliefs about ourselves, other people and society in general. In a negative way our perspectives can actually hinder a development process, e.g. the self-fulfilling prophecy such as 'I'm no good learning' has already been discussed. Our perspectives are often so ingrained that we no longer challenge them even though it would be of advantage to step outside and take a ...
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