This talk was extremely well attended, with an audience of some 80 plus delegates. Jenny introduced herself as a Transactional Analysis (TA) therapist who works with couples and individuals. She commenced the talk reflecting on the similarities and differences between couple and individual work and the pertinent need for firm boundaries in couple work.
Jenny invited the audience to spend a few minutes discussing why they had attended this evening and what they might hope to learn. She then introduced a guided visualisation, to facilitate the audience in reflecting on their own boundaries and how these differ when alone and when they were in the company of friends, family or clients. Jenny suggested that she uses this visualisation with couples, to highlight the differences in their respective boundaries and to demonstrate that there is often room to improve boundaries.
Using two volunteers from the audience, Jenny then undertook an exercise to demonstrate different levels of tolerance when one person is approaching our personal space and when two people (a couple) approach. She described that a greater discomfort is felt with couples and that the energy required to work with couples is therefore higher. Jenny shared that she limits her own practice to a maximum of two couples per day for this reason.
After tea break, Jenny took questions from the audience. She discussed her own model of couple work and the boundaries she installs from the very first contact by phone or message, ensuring that she remains neutral and avoids collusion. She stated that she works to an 8-session model and typically sees couples at two- or three-week intervals. Jenny talked about how she manages domestic violence within her couple contract and how she will never contract individually, if she has previously seen a client with their partner, or vice-versa.
This was a very useful and informative talk, which gave me plenty to reflect upon for my own practice.