Working with Attachment in Couples Therapy: A 4-step Model for Clinical Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Working with Attachment in Couples Therapy

A 4-step Model for Clinical Practice, 1st Edition

By James Donovan


224 pages

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Paperback: 9780367277772
pub: 2019-11-20
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Through an exploration of extensive case studies, this book demonstrates how the discovery and examination of original childhood attachment wounds is crucial to couples therapy.

As many as half of all mental health referrals involve interpersonal issues and these very often relate to marital problems (Donovan 2003). Yet, after a half a century of couples therapy, we still lack a widely accepted treatment model for couples and there are relatively few training programs or graduate courses dedicated to the field. Why does an effective general approach to marital therapy remain so elusive? Working with Attachment in Couples Therapy: A 4-step Model for Clinical Practice presents a series of in-depth case studies which illustrate the seeking of the primary wound for each participant as it unfolds session by session and traces improvement in each couple while exploring past injuries.

This book represents essential reading for any mental health professional working with couples, as well as those in training.


"Dr. Donovan has an absolutely clear model for helping couples where each partner has been seriously and emotionally wounded in childhood. This is very common in those who come for marital therapy. The method he shares with many senior colleagues in the field of marital therapy is to earn the trust of each partner gradually so that each partner can come forth fully about how she or he was hurt and how this happens sadly again in the marriage. This is a method that deeply explores what has to come forth from the past, in an individual therapy of two people together, if each is to take much better care of the other."

--Jim Gustafson, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School

Table of Contents

1 - The Four Step Model: Step 1: The Resurrection of Safety

2 – Step 2: Pursuing the attachment wound: Excerpts from Jim Donovan and other senior authors

3 – After Identifying the Wound: Starting the Healing

4 – Step 3: Treating the wound and rekindling the intimacy: Introducing three longer therapies

5 – The Middle Stages of the treatment: The Challenge

6 – Step 4: the Later Stages of couple treatment: Long term personality development

7 – Final words: For now

About the Author

Jim Donovan, PhD, is Associate Professor of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, Emeritus Director of Behavioural Health Training, Atrius Health, MA, USA, and Author of Short-Term Object Relations Couples Therapy: The Five-Step Model (Routledge 2003).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Couples & Family