Working with the Mixed Agenda Couple
Parts 1 & 2
It’s not easy when a couple enters treatment unsure about whether to dissolve a marriage or try to save it—especially when each partner leans in a different direction. These “mixed agenda” couples present challenges for even the most skilled couples therapist, particularly since successful therapy usually depends on both partners being at least nominally invested in working on the relationship. This workshop will demonstrate an approach called Discernment Counseling that helps partners develop clarity and confidence about whether to divorce or work on their relationship in therapy. You’ll discover how to:
- Identify “mixed agenda” couples and avoid common mistakes in treatment, such as siding with the distancer or holding back hope because one spouse is not “in”
- Help both parties own their contributions to the marital problems and weigh the options of exiting the marriage or trying couples therapy
- Use a detailed protocol of joint and separate conversations with spouses to clarify each partner’s goals and focus on what they can learn from the crisis of divorce
Continued with workshop 511
William Doherty, PhD, is a professor and director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota. His books include Helping Couples on the Brink of Divorce: Discernment Counseling for Troubled Relationships, with Steven Harris.