Working with Conflicted and Devitalised Couples

The PREPARE/ENRICH Couple Typology is based on patterns in couple’s scores across nine relationship areas. Statistical analysis has identified four types of premarital couples and five types of married couples. These types are labeled in order from healthiest to least healthy:

  1. Vitalised
  2. Harmonious
  3. Conventional
  4. Conflicted
  5. Devitalised (married couples only)

These couple types differ in how satisfied they are in their relationship with Vitalised couples displaying the highest levels of satisfaction, while Devitalised couples the lowest. Conflicted couples are characterised by moderately low scores on all but the roles scale.

Goals in Working with Conflicted and Devitalised Couples:

  • Instill couple with hope that their relationship can improve. (You may choose to tell them that in a study of unhappy marriages, 2/3 of couples who stayed married reported they were happy five years later five years*). Relationships are ever-evolving and all will experience “ups” and “downs”.
  • Identify and build their strengths as a couple
  • Help couples understand that they share responsibility for the state of their relationship
  • Help each partner learn to appreciate the impact of their behavior on the other
  • Develop their communication and conflict resolution skill

Using PREPARE/ENRICH with Conflicted and Devitalised Couples:

  • Discuss and praise a couple’s commitment to their relationship and willingness to work to make it better
  • Identify and help them build their strengths. If the couple does not have any “category” strengths, look for specific Agreement items within categories.
  • Begin by assessing, and if necessary, bolstering the couple’s communication by teaching assertiveness and active listening.
  • Develop conflict resolution skills using the Ten Steps for Resolving Couple Conflict. Use the Ten Step Model several times with them, beginning with less complex issues, and then moving toward more complex issues.
  • Augment your sessions by assigning “homework” from the Couple’s Workbook and/or chapters in The Couple Checkup book.

Key Concerns:

  • As these couples are at greater risk for abuse and divorce, share your concerns with them and gain their commitment to work on the relationship. This will often require 6-10 more intensive counseling sessions.
  • Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with distressed couples.
  • Develop a referral network of collaborative partners to assist you in your work and know when to refer couples to a marital therapist with more expertise.

PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on the use and analysis of the inventory and couple workbooks or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrichIMG_0002.PNG

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