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Couples therapy: An integration of intersubjectivity theory and ego analytic couples therapy

28 July 1992


Couples Therapy is still a relatively new and evolving area of psychotherapy. In the past 25 years, several major models have been developed in an attempt to provide conceptual clarity to the field. Wile developed ego analytic couples therapy because of his dissatisfaction with the three major models (behavioral, psychoanalytic and systems/systemic). Although Wile clearly explicates a number of extremely valuable techniques, he has not elaborated a theoretical system upon which to base clinical work. Because of this lack of detailed theory, his techniques run the risk of being unsystematically employed. The gap left by Wile's lack of an adequate theoretical system can be filled by the theory of intersubjectivity. This theory can be integrated with Wile's approach and thus enhance the clinical utility of his techniques. Intersubjectivity theory provides a highly sophisticated theoretical system which can illuminate the intricate complexities of couples treatment. Insights from intersubjectivity theory provide a means to integrate both the intrapsychic/affective and interpersonal/interactional dimensions of the couple relationship into treatment. This paper offers a theoretical model that integrates the insights from intersubjectivity theory with ego analytic couples therapy. The integration of these two perspectives provides a more clinically useful framework than either theory alone. This integration may be particularly useful in working with more characterologically disturbed couples.


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