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Schwartz, A. (2016). A review of A Relational Psychoanalytic Approach to Couples Psychotherapy: by Philip Ringstrom. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014. 306 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 52(4):622-635.

(2016). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 52(4):622-635

Book Reviews

A review of A Relational Psychoanalytic Approach to Couples Psychotherapy: by Philip Ringstrom. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014. 306 pp.

Ave Schwartz, LICSW

Philip Ringstrom's A Relational Psychoanalytic Approach to Couples Psychotherapy is a valuable contribution to the literature on couples therapy. Drawing on and synthesizing his 30 years of experience as a couples therapist, he offers new and experienced practitioners useful insights into the complexities of this work. The book serves as a training manual of good practice for novice couples therapists, and a subtle and admirable demonstration of personal technique for experienced clinicians. However, Ringstrom does not stop there, developing also a theoretical manifesto for a relational psychoanalytic school of couples therapy. Here, I think, the book raises some problematic questions, not specific to Ringstrom's therapeutic approach or “school,” but to a larger enterprise the book more broadly reflects.

The book is organized by three themes that act as a conceptual meta-framework for Ringstrom's approach. These themes are complex in that they implicitly merge, in a somewhat circular manner, therapeutic values with practical “skills” and experiential goals. The values constitute the ideals to which the approach aspires, and unavoidably by extension, the ideals the therapist wishes to instill in the couple. The skills are the elements of daily practice differentially required by both the couple and the therapist. The goals are the experiential outcomes that reflect therapeutic change.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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