If you work with couples, you probably find some of your most challenging couples to work with are those that are in high conflict.

Sometimes couples come into the therapy room right from a fight and continue the fight in your office. Other times you may be working with a couple that has been harbouring resentment and anger that explodes out when they talk about certain issues.

Whatever the case, the reality is you need to contain your clients and put rules in place to make the therapeutic environment safe and secure so everyone can be heard and validated for the therapy to progress.

This is no easy task at the best of times and made all the harder if you’re a therapist who finds conflict challenging.

So we spoke with Australia Counselling member Jacqueline McDiarmid who specialises in working with couples and families and has a wealth of experience in working with high conflict couples and training therapists in how to work with these clients.

In this interview Jacqueline shares:

  • The most common behaviours of couples in high conflict
  • The challenges therapists struggle with when working with high-conflict couples
  • The most common mistakes therapists make with high-conflict couples
  • How to effectively manage the couple when fighting escalates in the therapy room
  • Tips for therapists needing to manage their own anxiety when conflict escalates
  • How to use systemic circular questioning in your sessions to reduce escalation of conflict

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

About Jacqueline McDiarmid

Jacqueline McDiarmid Couple Counsellor and Family TherapistJacqueline is a Couple and Family Therapist with nearly 20 years experience working in private practice.  She holds a Masters of Couple and Family Therapy (UNSW) and a Bachelor of Counselling and a Diploma of Psychotherapy.  She runs the Masters electives in both family and couple work at the Jansen Newman Institute and is a regular guest lecturer at universities and tertiary institutions.  Jacqueline is passionate about counsellors and therapists having access to good quality training in couple and family work – an area that requires a specific skill set – and runs regular professional development sessions targeted to this area. She believes that many counsellors lack the confidence to embark on this work due to lack of good training and support which is why she is also developing a unique mentoring group. Jacqueline is a presenter at industry conferences and presented at the Family Therapy Conference 2014.  For further information on her training please visit www.coupleandfamily.com.

Listen to the audio with the player at the top of this post, or listen on SoundCloud, Stitcher Radio, or subscribe in iTunes.

button-itunes button-stitcher button-soundcloud