Couple's Competencies

Competencies Required for Certification in Couples Therapeutic Assessment

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•    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 adult individual 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. 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. Skilled at helping each partner be curious about the impact of individual factors on the couple dynamic
3c. 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 sessions
4a. Skilled with a couples’ interaction task (e.g., Consensus Rorschach, couples sculpting, psychodrama)
4b. Can plan a couples assessment intervention session
4c. Skilled at highlighting the interactions contributing to the couple’s problematic interactions or “dance”
4d. Is aware of and comments on each partner’s contribution
4e. Balances support and firmness in dealing with each member’s defenses
4f. Skilled at keeping the experience moving in a positive but impactful direction
4g. Able 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. Helps the clients meta-process the assessment experience
5g. Effectively 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 suggestions for next steps are tied to the assessment findings and go beyond recommending (further) psychotherapy

7.    Follow-up session
7a. Helps to structure the follow-up session
7b. Notices and comments on positive changes/strivings
7c. Helps the clients meta-process the assessment experience
7d. Effectively acknowledges the ending of the assessment

8.    Relationship with other professionals (if applicable)
8a. Collaborates effectively with the couples’ therapist
8b. Manages or confronts splitting between the partners’ individual therapists

9. Use of consultation
9a. Is aware of own strengths and weaknesses in working with couples
9b. Seeks consultation when appropriate