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Couple and Individual Counselling and Psychotherapy: Couple Theory 1


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Katherine Astill
  • Assessment: a 3500-word couple theory paper (100%)

Module description

This module introduces you to the theory and practice of working at depth with couples and individuals. It gives a solid grounding in the seminal texts of couple psychoanalytic psychotherapy and their links to psychoanalytic work with individuals. It enables you to identify and reflect on similarities and differences between work with individuals and couples and will enable you to see how clinical thinking and practice in this modality have developed.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Early development of ideas: as shared unconscious relationship
  • The couple in mind
  • Transference and countertransference
  • Unconscious phantasy and unconscious beliefs
  • The adult intimate couple relationship and containment
  • Aggression/violence
  • Borderline and psychotic processes in couples
  • Sex/Sexualities/Oedipal issues
  • Couples/parents/children
  • Separation and divorce
  • Bringing about change in couple work

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • critically reflect upon an extended range of psychoanalytic thought/research findings and evaluate their relevance to the couple relationship and practice, including the sexual relationship
  • demonstrate an understanding of psychosexual development and sexuality through the life cycle
  • demonstrate theoretical knowledge of causes of violence and aggression within couple relationships
  • demonstrate theoretical knowledge of issues around separation, divorce, conflict and the impact on family life
  • identify and evaluate how defence mechanisms develop and operate
  • analyse the complex roots of troubled relationships and psychosexual problems
  • illustrate the ability to work with couples and individuals in relationship and psychosexual therapy utilising applicable theoretical frameworks
  • critically evaluate a wide range of theoretical concepts related to couple and psychosexual therapy, using examples from clinical practice.