Narrative Therapy Guide to Couple Counselling

Narrative therapy informed Rational Interviewing is a highly respectful, highly effective, non-pathologizing approach to relationship therapy, that centres the couple as the experts in their own relational lives. His approach to couple therapy is respected, practiced and followed worldwide.

Unlike the majority of couple therapists in Vancouver, Dr Madigan’s therapeutic work is not Dysfunction Focused on the failings and/or the negative histories of each individual.  He is much more interested on the relationship itself.

Dr Madigan’s approach is influenced by the idea that couple’s bring their relationship to therapy with the idea of finding pathways to rescue and return to many of the foundational values (kindness, respect, love, fairness) the relationship was once lived through – relationally.

Dr Madigan feels the vast majority of conflicts experienced and expressed in couple relationships is the result of a transgression, temporary stepping away, and/or the sadness experienced in having lost the values that were once central to couples relationship.

Dr. Madigan assumes (before the first 1.5 hour session even begins) the couple seeking his help arrives into therapy with numerous (and very often forgotten or lost) competencies, beliefs, values, skills, preferences, treasured memories, commitments and abilities. Rediscovering, remembering, discussing and appreciating a couple’s unique abilities assists them in the process of finding common ground to address the present conflict in their lives.

Dr Madigan assists couple relationships to realize how their intimate relationship with one another is deeply connected to numerous other relationships (work, children, family, friends, activities etc.). And even though these other important relationships are necessary and life fulfilling they often draw the couple away from their intimate relationship in terms of time, commitment and priority. By contextualizing the modern couple relationship the couple is more able to experience conflict as much more than an individual personal failure.

Dr Madigan does not take a position on whether the relationship should stay together or separate but does however feel a restoration of values once important to the relationship is important whether or not the couple is separating or attempting to reunify their relationship.

Dr Madigan’s ideas on therapeutic change involve discussions with you that include:

  1. Discussing the foundational values, preferences and desires of the pre-problem relationship before the conflict,
  2. Helping couple relationships clearly define why specific foundational values, preferences and desires were so important to the relationship,
  3. Discussing the many losses the current problem/transgression has created in relationship life and discovering the response to these losses,
  4. Understanding various expressions of conflict to discover what these expressions are protesting for and protesting against,
  5. Uncovering and appreciating a couple relationships skills, knowledge, history and abilities that contradict the conflicted lifestyle,
  6. Helping couple’s craft a statement of position regarding care of the relationship going forward including the managing of other relationships like work, children, family, friends, activities, social media etc.
  7. Helping couple relationships maintain and sustain these preferred relational changes as building block solutions for long term future health and change.

Narrative therapy informed Rational Interviewing is a highly respectful, highly effective, non-blaming approach to relationship therapy, that centres the couple as the experts in their own lives.

Dr. Stephen Madigan’s therapeutic work is influenced by the idea that couple’s coming to see him in therapy are much more skilled and far more interesting than the narrow descriptions they often come to therapy with and/or the thin conclusion others may hold about them.

In his development of the notion that people’s lives are organized by the stories they tell and those that others construct about them, Dr. Madigan works to re-author and counter those stories (forming counter-stories) that shape and negatively affect people’s lives and relationships.

Before the first two hour session even begins, Dr. Madigan assumes that the couple’s seeking his help arrive into therapy with numerous (and very often forgotten!) competencies, beliefs, values, skills, ethics, commitments and abilities. Uncovering, remembering, discussing and appreciating a couple’s unique abilities assists them in the process of changing their ‘relationship’ to the conflict in their lives.

Dr Madigan assists couple’s to resolve longstanding problems by enabling them to separate their lives and relationships from specific historical ideas, influences, habits, patterns and stories they judge to be impoverishing and no longer helpful.

Dr Madigan does not take a position on whether the relationship should stay together or separate.

Dr Madigan’s ideas on therapeutic change involve discussions with you that include:

  1. Discussing the values of the pre-problem relationship before the conflict,
  2. Helping couple’s clearly define what the patterns, habits, history, context and language of the conflict are,
  3. Discovering how the problem negatively affects couple relationships,
  4. Discussing the many losses the problem has created in relationship life and discovering your response to these losses,
  5. Uncovering and appreciating a couple’s skills, knowledge, history and abilities that contradict the problem lifestyle,
  6. Helping couple’s craft a statement of position regarding their preferred pathways to change in both your own life and in relationships (with your partner, work, children, family, friends etc) and,
  7. Helping you maintain and sustain these changes as building block solutions for long term health and change.