Peter has a special interest and experience in working with couples experiencing distress within their relationship. The treatment process initially works to identify the behaviours, beliefs and emotions that contribute to relationship dissatisfaction. Information about each partner’s developmental history is gathered, with a particular focus on significant relationships they have observed (Eg watching how Nan and Pop would discuss conflicts and resolve them). A treatment plan is then developed targeting the factors that have contributed to dissatisfaction, distress and dysfunction.
The process and techniques will vary according to the nature of the problem in the relationship, the personalities of the partners and formulation that is developed. Most couples, however, can expect to attend two initial information gathering sessions, one together and one alone. After this, there will be a session in which the problem formulation is presented and a treatment plan mapped out. From this point the plan will be implemented over a number of sessions. This will often involve some form of communication training, the development of skills in negotiation and compromise and practical behavioural changes. Each partner is encouraged to consider the relationship they want, identify behaviours that contribute to this and commit to self-directed change. This is implemented on the understanding that individuals are more effective at changing their own behaviours rather than changing their partner.
The treatment approach is most often brief, attempting to teach the couple skills to self-manage as efficiently as possible. Sessions are for 50 minutes and be warned, homework will regularly be assigned in order to generalise the skills to the home environment.
Peter uses evidence-based couple’s treatment approaches including cognitive-behavioural (Eg Couples Care, Halford, 2005, Integrative Behavioural Couple Therapy, (Christensen, 2005), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Eg ACT with Love, Harris, 2009) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (The High Conflict Couple, Fruzzetti, 2006). The work of John Gottman and Nan Silver (Eg The seven principles of making marriage work, 1999) is also central to the assessment and treatment process.