I offer these resources as suggested activities, not “homework.” They represent different perspectives on committed relationship. I may or may not refer to them in the course of therapy.
Couples/Marital Therapy Resources
To really dig into differentiation and couples therapy, the two book resources I often recommend are “Passionate Marriage” and “Intimacy and Desire“. Though they are written in very plain English, these books are dense reading and filled with meaning. You will likely refer to them for many years to come.
The most compact definition of differentiation, as well as a clear picture of what it looks like in real time, is here.
I also highly recommend the work of Esther Perel. Her books, “Mating In Captivity” and “The State Of Affairs” addresses very common sexual development in relationships. It’s been my pleasure to participate in several of her trainings. With empathy and insight, she speaks to people seeking both domestic and erotic fulfillment in their committed relationships.
I support and benefit from the wisdom (and wit) of Marty Klein, a superb writer, blogger and professional trainer. He speaks plainly and thinks clearly, de-constructing established wisdom on subjects such as ‘losing your temper’ or ‘the meaning of sex’. His book, “Sexual Intelligence” is a “touchstone” for beginning, continuing or seeking to improve a sexual relationship.
I always suggest that if you are reading any of these books as a couple, buy or borrow individual copies, or use individual e-readers. These works are all available in digital editions.) Results improve with multiple readings, practice and discussion – but books are not a substitute for therapy.
Family Systems Theory
The concept of differentiation, a core piece of Dr. Schnarch’s work, was originally developed by the late Murray Bowen, M.D. Bowen was a psychiatrist, trained in psychoanalysis, who became a widely recognized theorist and practitioner of “family systems” psychotherapy, known as Bowen Theory.
A massive shift in therapy theory
He generated a massive shift in thinking about what’s therapeutic. His work today forms a portion of virtually every curriculum for masters degrees in psychology and social work, and robustly extends into other fields. His teaching can be contrarian to other established approaches, but his integrity in seeking family health and change is never in dispute.
Although the theory is complex, it seeks to identify and explain universal elements of the human condition and our relationships. The Bowen Center site is a good beginning to explore the original theory
Important as theory is, therapists can apply the same theories differently. And, the medium for change exists within the therapeutic relationship – not theory.
Clinical Social Work Resources
I recommend visiting the Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work website to learn more about Clinical Social Work in Washington. As a profession, I strongly recommend you visit the Clinical Social Work Association.
State licensure for Clinical Social Work
To learn about the Dept. of Health’s regulation of Clinical Social Work, search a provider’s current license status (including mine) (including mine), file a complaint, etc., visit the Washington State Department of Health Social Work program website.
Robert Odell LICSW / Counseling & Therapy