Couples counseling is serious business. People are often in crisis. Many times someone has had an affair or is engaging in bad behavior. Some people want to use counseling to air past grievances and assign blame. They play “Courtroom” —a game where they look to the counselor to decide who is right or wrong. Remember, their problems are more complex than a single issue. It will require time, commitment, and the right tools to sort out. I require 3 sessions to provide tools and systems to move through chaos to stability.
The role of the TA counselor is not to tell couples what they should do, rather to teach the couple how to sort out problems for themselves. The TA counselor provides good tools, personal support, & commitment to the process. As a TA counselor, I have 3 goals in mind:
• My goal for the first session is to teach key TA concepts. This provide a new way for people to think about themselves and their relationship dynamics. Balanced ego states, emotional v. rational communication, positive strokes, and making and keeping agreements. I reframe unproductive fights with A to A transactions. Refocus on finding solutions, not blame or guilt.
• My personal goal is be grounded in my Adult ego state. I must listen attentively and give equal attention, provide positive strokes, and re-frame negative talk. I make & keep agreements to build a trustworthy record. I stick to 3-week plan to build positive momentum.
• Overall Goal—over three weeks, build a new foundation with two stable, healthy people. Clients have learned to understand themselves and their partner/families. They know how to communicate effectively. They give positive strokes & make good contracts. Topics by week:
1. Goal for Couples Counseling and Introduction to TA:
• What brings you to counseling? Autopsy or Resuscitate? 3 Styles of Marriage
• TA Introduction PAC-PAC Critical Parent & Rebel Child ‘Activate’ Adult Positive Strokes Contracts Stroke & Stand Time Structure Price & Prize
2. Keirsey Temperament Sorter
• understand their similarities and differences in personality preferences • Introvert v Extrovert, Feeling v. Thinking, Judger v Perceiver, etc.
3. Relationship Contract
• each person complete worksheet for Time, Space Money and Play
• think about the price tags for breaking agreements (affairs, overspending, etc)
The couple may schedule another appointment to renegotiate their Relationship Contract. When the contract is done, they may want to continue working to strengthen their relationship.