Couple's Competencies

Updated 8/29/22
Competencies Required for Certification in Couples Therapeutic Assessment

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Competencies Required for Certification in Couples Therapeutic Assessment
• Previous training in couples/family intervention resulting in the ability to think systemically about couples’ dynamics
• Has an understanding of major couples’ dynamics/dances (e.g., pursuer-avoider, over-responsible/under-responsible)
• Is certified in Therapeutic Assessment with individual adult clients
(The following competencies are required in addition to those needed for certification in TA with adult individual clients.)
1. Competency in psychological testing
1a. Skilled with at least one couple/family self-report measure (e.g., FAM-III, FES, MDS, DAS, Self-report Family Inventory)
2. Initial sessions
2a. Skilled at maintaining a balanced relationship with both members of couple and helping each partner to feel safe
2b. Skilled at helping couple formulate systemic questions in addition to individual questions or reframe individual questions into systemic questions
2c. Clarifies the limits of confidentiality within the couples’ assessment
2d. Skilled at managing the system (e.g., handling conflicts that break out in the session, keeping one partner from dominating the session)
3. Individual assessment sessions
3a. Skilled at redirecting/maintaining an individual focus (i.e., not letting one partner spend entire session complaining about the other)
3b. During the initial individual interview, helps each partner be curious about the impact of individual factors on the couple dynamic
3c. Helps each partner connect insights gained from individual tests and extended inquiries to the couple dynamics
3d. Can design individual assessment interventions that help each partner explore his/her part in the couple dance and begin to see what would be needed to change the dance
4. Couples assessment intervention sessions
4a. Can plan a couples assessment intervention session
4b. Frames the session for the couple in terms of their Assessment Questions
4c. Skilled with a couples’ interaction task (e.g., Consensus Rorschach, couples sculpting, psychodrama, Couples Memory Task)
4d. Skilled at highlighting the interactions contributing to the couple’s problematic interactions or “dance”
4e. Is aware of and comments on each partner’s contribution
4f. Balances support and firmness in dealing with each partner’s defenses
4g. Tries to help the clients experience a shift or a break in their typical pattern of interaction
4h. Helps the clients generalize their “in-room” experience to daily life
5. Summary/discussion sessions
5a. Skilled at developing a systemic case formulation that also acknowledges the contribution/characteristics of each partner
5b. Skilled at explaining individual assessment results in a way that furthers empathy and compassion between the partners
5c. Skilled at articulating the systemic aspects of the relationship difficulties and explaining what each partner would have to change to shift the “dance”
5d. Actively involves each client in confirming/modifying the findings
5e. Skilled at managing the system during the session
5f. Suggestions for next steps are derived from the assessment findings and these links are made clear for the clients
5g. Suggestions for next steps go beyond recommendations for (more) psychotherapy and include things the clients can work on alone
5h. Elicits and is open to the clients’ input when discussing next steps
5i. Helps the clients meta-process the assessment experience
5j. Acknowledges the ending of the assessment
6. Written feedback
6a. Written feedback to couple is balanced and effectively describes each partner’s contribution and how these come together to create the couple interaction
6b. The document reflects the clients’ input during the entire assessment
6c. The document is both professional and personal
6d. The suggestions for next steps reflect the collaboration of the clients, are tied to the assessment findings, and go beyond recommending (further) psychotherapy
6e.  The document acknowledges the ending of the assessment and clarifies how the clients should handle questions before the follow-up session. 
7. Follow-up session
7a. Collaborates with the clients to set the goals for the session
7b. Gives the clients a sense of being remembered and thought about
7c. Inquires about the clients’ reactions to the written feedback
7d. Notices and comments on positive changes/strivings
7e. Helps the clients meta-process the assessment experience
7f. Effectively acknowledges the ending of the assessment
8. Relationship with other professionals (if applicable)
8a. Maintains a collaborative relationship with the referring professional(s), avoiding a “one-up” or “one-down” position
8b. Helps the referring professional(s) frame useful questions for the assessment
8c. Stays in contact with the referring professional(s) during the assessment
8d. Is attentive to the possibility of unhelpful triangulations with the client and referring professional(s)
8e. Facilitates the transition of the clients back to the referring professional(s) after the TA
9. Use of consultation
9a. Is aware of own strengths and weaknesses
9b. Seeks consultation and collaboration when appropriate
9c. Is open to feedback, while taking own authority
9d. Is aware of own reactions to the clients and uses these therapeutically