Current Status of Marital Therapy

  • R. Taylor Segraves
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


A major obstacle to clinicians interested in marital therapy is the absence of an acceptable conceptual framework to guide their interventions and organize their perceptions (Manus, 1966; Olson, 1975). The clinician treating relationship disturbances is quickly faced with a baffling complexity of data: each spouse’s personal history and signs of psychopathology, the history of the shared relationship and the individual meanings of shared events, current observable patterns of interactions between spouses. In order to make effective interventions, the clinician needs a conceptual framework to organize his perceptions and therapeutic interventions. The need for a theory of marital therapy is acutely felt because, in the midst of rapid bombardment with overwhelming data in the usual marital therapy session, the therapist must consider both past and current determinants of the discord, the individual and interactional data, and the interplay of internal psychological representational systems with recurring maladaptive behavior patterns. The absence of an adequate theory of marital therapy may partially explain the relative lack of activity in this clinical area by many therapists (Segraves, 1978). Similarly, the absence of a theoretical system that relates therapeutic interventions into marital interaction systems with individual psychopathology may account for the tendency of many psychotherapists to regard marital therapy as a more superficial, less meaningful intervention.


Interpersonal Behavior External Reality General System Theory Individual Psychotherapy Marital Discord 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Taylor Segraves
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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