Coaching and partnership: the focus on self, the other and the bond

Coaching and partnership: the focus on self

The couple is a process and, as such, needs to update their bonds to adapt to new situations and challenges. If the individual processes monopolize the attention of each one, more and more divergent paths are generated in which the original sense is lost and the couple dissolves.

In this sense, coaching is not only effective as an individual process, but also for the couple .

Couple’s Coaching: for a better relationship

This week Lluis Casado, psychologist and coach, professor of the Postgraduate course in Psychology and Coaching at the Mensalus Institute of Psychological and Psychiatric Assistance, talks about the importance of matching the individual growth rate with the growth of the couple.

From the perspective of couples’ coaching, what concept do we start from?

Two people establish a relationship when they build a bond (the we) that responds to their needs of the moment. Likewise, people change throughout their lives as a result of reasons inherent to the life cycle, whether they are biological, social, psychological or even accidental. For all these reasons, the original link, if it does not evolve, becomes obsolete.

The couple is a process and, as such, needs to update their bonds to adapt to new situations that arise over the years.

So what happens to the couple that doesn’t update their link?

If that happens, the original bond can become an obstacle to individual and couple development. Furthermore, if the individual growth rate is not the same, this difference can lead to an asynchronous couple in which it becomes difficult to update the bond (the expectations and needs of both parties are different).

Therefore, the harmonious growth of the couple requires individual growth in time. However, this evolution is not so simple. Let us not forget that we are talking about the growth processes of two autonomous people and the construction of new bonds of interdependence.

What elements come into play in the individual growth process?

People behave according to certain guidelines, habits, personal style, beliefs, values, relational ties, emotional experiences, identity and life script in transactional terminology. In stable situations our behaviours are adaptive and our relationships satisfactory.

When we find ourselves in a situation of idealization everything goes well and therefore we do not see the need to change. In the case of the couple we are in the phase of falling in love. But this situation of idyllic well-being is artificial in the medium term because people change internally in the same way that their environment changes. Sometimes it is difficult for us to take a step and evolve, we cling to that well-being experienced in the first phase and we disconnect from the current moment.

What does couples’ coaching work in this respect?

From the coaching we have the objective that both members reflect on their role within the couple’s relationship so that, later, they find those common points that will lead them towards new shared goals of change and evolution.

And what kind of work are we talking about?

We are referring to the three-stage work. The first stage of the couple’s coaching process corresponds to awareness. Each member needs a space to become aware of where they are and how they feel about the other person.

Couples arrive with a reason for consultation related to the complaint, the difficulty of being heard, of being respected, etc. The request refers to the other person rather than to oneself. It is precisely in this first stage of work that it is fundamental to realise what the individual role is and its consequences.

Once you’re both in place, it’s time to take responsibility. In the second stage of the coaching process there are three key questions:

  • What change am I responsible for?
  • What do I have to bring to the relationship?
  • What can I ask of the other person?

What is worked from these answers?

Among the aspects that we analyze, we pay special attention to how each person receives the request of others. It is interesting to observe how the request arrives and “resonates” in the individual. The associated thoughts and feelings will offer a wide range of meanings that will favour the taking of mutual responsibility, information that is usually obscured by discussions and unconstructive conversations.

And what is the last stage?

The third stage is action. The coach brings the couple closer to change by addressing the following issues:

  • What will I do?
  • What will you do?
  • What will we do together?

As we can see, when working on all these aspects it is important to keep the focus on oneself, the other and the link. This is something that does not always happen in the couple’s real life. The coach is in charge of helping to keep all the focuses active, otherwise the work done throughout the sessions will be in vain.

In short, how can we understand the growth of the couple?

The growth of the couple is the permanent search of the bond that, in the “here and now”, allows the maximum personal development together with the other. The bond is, at the same time, the shared objective and the means that facilitates the greatest individual development. In fact, highly developed couples use the growth of the couple as a catalyst for individual growth, since they take maximum advantage of the synergy of interdependence as opposed to the blockage that the relationship of dependence means.

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