Working with Emotions
Emotions are a core aspect of any committed relationship, and therapists must know how to manage and utilize emotions in their work with couples. In individual psychotherapy, there are approaches to treatment devoted solely to affect or emotion. Gestalt therapy, for example, has been a major force in psychotherapy and deals extensively with emotional awareness and expression. However, when we wrote the fi rst edition of this book (Weeks & Treat, 1992), there was very little attention paid by marital therapists to the role of feelings in therapy. Of all the major approaches to systems/ marital therapy prior to 1981, not one gave serious attention to the role of feelings (Gurman & Kniskern, 1981b), despite the fact that marriage is fundamentally an emotional attachment. In fact, in some major approaches such as paradoxical, strategic, and behavioral, feelings are viewed as a hindrance to effective therapeutic work. Proponents of these approaches often speak of the need to avoid dealing with feelings because they are seen as a distraction.