Collaboration

I get more clients coming for help with relationships at this time of year.  January traditionally sees the highest number of divorce applications(1), although nationally, rates fell from 2011 to 2012(2).  Coming for help as a couple, especially with a sexual issue, can be difficult.  Some couples are not comfortable talking to each other and some find it easier to talk about sexual issues with a professional.  For others it’s the other way round.  Men are less likely to seek help than women.  When they do, they are more likely to see the issue as concerning their partner only and of a physical nature with no need to attend as a couple(3).   The sexual relationship is inherently interpersonal, so it should be no surprise that a good outcome of therapy is approximately twice as likely when a couple attend together as opposed to those with partners who do not attend with them.  For individuals not in a relationship the results are equally as good(4).  Clearly, when a client is in a relationship a collaborative alliance with their partner(5) helps prognosis(6). Assessment and history taking of the clients’ sexual interaction is brought into focus in light of the above information;  the importance of encouraging those with a partner to view the issue as belonging to the relationship and attend as a couple.  Awareness of how very different clients can be in their level of comfort in talking about sex and how men and women diverge in their perceptions of their problems is crucial. 


1.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/04/january-more-divorces-tha_n_803958.html

2.http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/jan/28/divorce-rates-marriage-ons

3.Daines & Perrett 2000, Psychodynamic Approaches to Sexual Problems

4.Hirst and Watson 2007, Therapy for sexual & relationship problems:  The effects on outcome of attending as an individual or as a couple in Sexual & Marital Therapy, 12:4, 321-337

5. Schnarch, D. (1998)  Passionate Marriage, St Martin’s Press New First Owl Books Edition

6. Hirst and Watson 2007, Therapy for sexual & relationship problems:  The effects on outcome of attending as an individual or as a couple in Sexual & Marital Therapy, 12:4, 321-337

© Matt Davies 2013