Video: Dr. John Norcross on couple’s therapy

Dr. John Norcross describes his approach to couple’s therapy

JN:  So stereotypically, a woman will come in and say, “I’m not feeling close.  The communication isn’t there.  The sense of intimacy and agreement on how we deal with the kids isn’t there.”  The husband says, “I think we’re doing fine in that area.” and then pick another area, be it finances, discipline, sex, that he believes.  So they literally miss each other in terms of stages of change and then not surprisingly, blame the other rather than assuming responsibility themselves.

LF:      And what do you do with that as a therapist?

JN:      We begin by assessing publicly, in a conjoint session, the Stages of Change, and then talk about that, where the skills training of communication and compromise and empathy begin.  We also, like most couples’ therapists, we don’t allow much finger pointing and blaming.  Instead, the work is to become the person you would like to and the spouse that you want to be.  But as you know from your own experience, that’s very difficult.  When people come into treatment, they want, of course, to pin the blame on most people.  And even when they say, “I’ll take 50% of the blame,” they’re not quite ready to work on their stuff yet.

About the Author

John C. Norcross, PH.D. John C. Norcross, PhD, ABPP, is a clinical psychologist, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton, and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University.  He specializes in the areas of  psychotherapy, clinical training, and self-change. Dr. Norcross is the acclaimed author of the self-help book Changeology, as well as hundreds of professional journal publications and books. He is past-president of the American Psychological Association's Division of Psychotherapy and the Division of Clinical Psychology. He has served as an APA council representative and as a director of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. Learn more about Dr. John C. Norcross' work at the Changeology website.

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