Steele’s Approach to the Use of Couple Therapy

Steele’s Approach to the Use of Couple Therapy





Steele’s Approach to the Use of Couple Therapy

Couple therapy is one of the approaches that are used in treating patients with trauma symptoms. Kathy Steele uses the principles of structural theory to evaluate a patient’s dissociation and shame conditions. As a result, she will determine the appropriate mechanism to help a patient recover from trauma. This paper discusses Steele’s approach to treating patients suffering from trauma.

Steele focuses on the mechanisms that are used to identify dissociation in an individual suffering from trauma. Kathy identifies dissociated patients as people who have inner fragmentation. They feel broken and shattered (Codrington, 2017). Besides, she uses leading questions that guide her to arrive at the proper identification of dissociation.

Steele and her colleagues researched and found it was necessary to include some aspects, such as neurobiological elements in couple therapy. As a result, they developed the structural theory that guides them when treating patients who show traumatic symptoms. The focus of the structural theory is on the organization of personality and the self-sense of a patient. As a result, the structural approach helps therapists understand the fragmented parties of a patient and what should be done to assemble them. Therefore, Steele’s success in couple therapy with patients who show trauma symptoms is based on proper evaluation of dissociation elements that determine the right therapy a therapist should apply to a patient.

Steele also acknowledges that shame is a factor that is associated with trauma patients. Therapists must understand the concept of shame in detail because it contributes to a successful couple therapy strategy (Codrington, 2017). She acknowledges that both the therapists and the patient try to avoid shame because of its negative impacts. However, she points out that therapists and patients should not avoid shame. Instead, they should work on it and ensure that they restore the health of the affected.

Steele’s effectiveness in dealing with shame entails acknowledging the pain and conflict shame instills in an individual. She looks for ways to collaborate with the patient, reducing the pain and conflict associated with shame. For instance, she will avoid eye contact with the patient and listen to them to determine how far they are in their problems. As a result, she will decide whether to handle it or leave it for a later stage.

In conclusion, Steele advocates that dissociation and shame are essential when treating patients with a traumatic experience. A therapist must look for finer details to identify dissociation and shame. Therefore, this approach will increase the outcome of the intervention and help patients to recover.




Codrington, R. (2017). Trauma, dissociation, and chronic shame: Reflections for couple and family practice: An interview with Kathy Steele. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 2017, 38, 669–679. DOI: 10.1002/anzf.1275




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