Denials of responsibility in couple therapy

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Date

2021-09-11

Authors

Smoliak, Olga
Rice, Carla
Knudson-Martin, Carmen
Briscoe, Cara
LeCouteur, Amanda
LaMarre, Andrea
Tseliou, Eleftheria
Addison, Maggie
Myers, Madison
Velikonja, Linnea

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Abstract

Although minimization of blaming and denials of responsibility are key components of many approaches to couple therapy, there has been little attention paid to how partners absolve themselves of responsibility and counter attributions of blame. In this study, we used thematic analysis to examine 40 videorecorded sessions of couple therapy. The study shows that injuring partners denied responsibility for harm by shifting it to sources outside of themselves, thereby justifying their own actions and minimizing negative consequences. More subtle ways of deflecting responsibility—partial or qualified admission of fault—were also observed. The implications for couple therapy are discussed.

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Keywords

couple therapy, denials, qualitative, thematic analysis, responsibility

Citation

Smoliak, O., Rice, C., Knudson-Martin, C., LeCouteur, A., LaMarre, A., Tseliou, E., Addison, M., Myers, M., Velikonja, L., & Vesely, L. (2021). Denials of responsibility in couple therapy. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 21(4), 344–365. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332691.2021.1967248

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