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Morgan, M. (2010). Unconscious Beliefs about Being a Couple. Fort Da, 16(1):36-55.

(2010). Fort Da, 16(1):36-55

Unconscious Beliefs about Being a Couple

Mary Morgan, M.A., CQSW, MBR, BPAS

Introduction

When a couple comes into the consulting room we are presented with a relationship in some kind of difficulty that gradually unfolds before our eyes and within the emotional experience we find ourselves having with them. If one listens closely to the material, the emotional tone of the session and the countertransference, it is possible to pick up and open up what might be described as the couple's unconscious beliefs about being a couple—or perhaps, more specifically, unconscious beliefs about what a couple relationship is. Unconscious phantasies about the nature of relating will be active as couples bring their relationship to therapy for treatment. Some unconscious phantasies become beliefs and strongly influence the kinds of the relationships we make and how we are in those relationships—our expectations, desires—and our beliefs about the other.

In this paper I want to explore the usefulness of the concept of unconscious beliefs in working with couples. It is not the only thing of significance happening in the unconscious of the couple, but it is central to what is going on unconsciously all the time in the relationship that, made conscious, can be shared and thought about with the couple. Once a couple are able to see that their beliefs about a couple are beliefs and not facts or truths, then it opens up the possibility of looking anew at their perception of the relationship and of the other.

Unconscious Beliefs

In discussing unconscious beliefs about a couple, I am following closely the way unconscious belief has been conceptualised by Ron Britton (1998).

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