Below you’ll find case studies of real clients that have attended couple’s counselling at All in the Family Counselling. These cases do not represent all cases seen at our centre but rather are intended to give you insight into what makes for successful outcomes and the time and effort the clients choose to put in to make their relationship change. Each couple’s relationship is unique and has its own history which our therapist will attend to. But we hope you will find it helpful to see what successful clients choose to do and their outcomes.
Case Study 1
Profile:Professional couple married for 6 years but known each other for 10 years. The couple is in their early 30s.
Reason for Counselling:Couple came into counselling because of husband’s excessive use of pornography, a reduced sexual life and overall lower intimacy in the relationship. Wife was prepared to file for divorce if things didn’t improve rapidly. Wife had loss of trust due to pornography use.
Number of Sessions: Couple had a total of 4 sessions with husband attending to 2 individual sessions. At the client’s initial session everyone agreed to the problem and what a positive marriage would look like for them. They were taught basic relationship skills and given homework to practice. At their 2nd session, which was 10 days later, we reviewed their homework and both individuals had great revelations about themselves, each other and the relationship. They were taught additional relationship skills and given more homework to practice for 14 days. The 3rd session we reviewed homework and refined skills and integrated new relationship concepts into the relationship including negotiating win-win for the relationship and managing perceptions in communication. Final session was 30 days later in which we reviewed their homework, revised some of their skills and gave them a framework to help identify and remedy problems if they were heading back into old relationship habits.
Success Factors: This is an unusual case for a couple in crises to come to counselling and so dramatically turn their relationship around. The reason the couple experienced such dramatic success was that they had come into counselling early once the issue of intimacy and pornography were discovered. This couple was also highly motived to make counselling work and they energetically completed their homework in between sessions. The couple also had a lot of positive regard for each other and good personal insight into themselves and each other. The husband also attended a couple of individual sessions to work on stress management.
Case Study 2
Profile:Couple married for over 10 years in their mid 30s. Both have a college education and are professionally employed. Couple has no children.
Reason for Counselling:Counselling was initiated by the wife who had found out only 4 days prior to contacting our agency that her husband had an affair and both of them wanted to repair and improve the relationship.
Number of Sessions: Couple had a total of 6 sessions over 3 months. The first session was getting agreement that both couples wanted to repair and improve the relationship. Both parties agreed to not introduce punishment into the relationship as a result of the affair. The couples were given some new basic relationship skills and given homework to complete in between session including not discussing the affair. Session 2 was 10 days later and the focus was on building a unified goal for the relationship. Four goals for the relationship were mutually identified and agreed to. Couples were given more relationship skills and homework to practice. The next 3 sessions were spread out over 2 months and focused on relationship skills that targeted communications, perceptions and internal control all with the couple doing homework in between sessions. The final session the clients evaluated how they did meeting their goals and they felt they got about 70–85% of each of their goals which was satisfactory for them. They felt confident with their new relationship skills. Trust had been restored, forgiveness was given and communication dramatically improved and the couple was established in their new and improved relationship behaviours.
Success Factors: Couple came in quickly after finding out about the relationship. Both individuals in the relationship agreed to not introduce punishment into the relationship. This couple was focused on the present and building the future relationship. The incident and issues of the past were only used as guidelines to help us know what worked and did not work. The couple was highly motivated to repair and improve their relationship and would complete their homework and came prepared to fully engage during the counselling sessions.
Case Study 3
Profile:Professional couple married for 7 years. The couple is in their late 30s. Had a history of infertility and infertility treatments that resulted in 2 children in last 3 years prior to treatment.
Reason for Counselling:Couple came into counselling because of dramatically reduced intimacy, increased fighting, difficulty communicating and negative perceptions of each other’s behaviours.
Number of Sessions: Couple had a total of 12 sessions with each client engaging in 2 individual sessions within 5 months. The first session focused on stabilizing the relationship and providing them with basic relationship skills. The homework started to focus the couple on building positive regard towards each other. Then next 2 sessions were focused on developing a new relationship base from which to make all decisions-shifting it away from the children as the base and back to the couple. The next 4 sessions included reviewing the homework the clients were completing in between sessions, the lessons and observations they were learning as well as modifying and enhancing basic communication skills that included perception taking, learning to negotiate a win–win for the relationship and continuing to build positive regard. The individual sessions were focused on personal issues that were affecting the relationship. Individual sessions addressed some of the loss and trauma related to infertility treatments and stress and anxiety management.
Complicating & Success Factors: This couple had a more complex prolonged history of infertility, stress and trauma that went on for a couple of years prior to entering counselling resulting in a more negative view of each other that reduced trust and positive regard for each other. This increased the number of sessions for the couple and individuals session were recommended.
However, the couple still had enough positive regard for each other and was committed to the counselling process because they really valued what they had earlier in their relationship. While the couple experienced some setbacks initially and was slower to implement their new relationship skills than the previous couples, they managed to keep coming to counselling and do most of the work. As they start the client was successful because they gave counselling enough time to work and practice their new skills and continue to get feedback and guidance while working both on their relationship issues and individual issues. This couple needed more sessions because there were complicating factors and the issues had been developing for a longer period before coming for help.