Cognitivebehavioural and rationalemotive couple therapy

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Aaron Beck,(!9 in his cognitive-behavioural approach to couple therapy, identifies in the communication of disturbed couples many of the problems found in the thinking of depressed patients, and attempts to correct these. Thus, he tackles misunderstandings, generalizations, untested assumptions, and automatic negative thoughts by challenging assumptions, reducing expectations, relaxing absolute rules, and focusing on the positive rather than the negative.

Similarly, Albert Ellis (reviewed by Dryden(!I') uses a rational- emotive approach to couple problems. Here, the main focus is on the use of words; terms such as 'intolerable' are replaced by (for example) 'difficult to accept', and the couple are encouraged to express desires rather than demands. There is an analysis of the repetitive cycles of cognitive and behavioural disturbance, in which each partner may attribute the other's behaviour to a negative motive and assume that nothing can be done about it. The general thrust of this therapy is similar to that of Beck, but with a more lively and less intellectual approach in the session.

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