Couple problems are difficulties of interaction, not strictly of the individual.


In partner problems, we can identify three forms of relationship that are not full and that will produce a dysfunction in the couple:

  • The unstable couple: one in which there is desire and intimacy but there is no commitment.
  • The superficial couple: there is commitment but no intimacy.
  • The partner: there is commitment and intimacy, but there is no desire.

Evaluation and diagnosis

Among the existing instruments we can distinguish five basic types of strategies for the evaluation of couple interaction:

  1. Initial or reception interview.
  2. Instruments of self-report: obtaining the opinions of each member regarding the relationship, as well as an assessment of their own and other’s behavior.


  • Marital adjustment scale.
  • Scale of dyadic adjustment.
  • Inventory of marital activities.
  • Current problems questionnaire.
  1. Instruments of self-observation and observation of the couple.
  2. Third-party observation recording systems: : estimates of the couple’s behavior in situations of interaction in the laboratory or in a natural environment.
  3. Instruments for the evaluation of specific issues related to the couple, including:
  • Reception interview.
  • Individual interview.
  • Individual cross-interview, in which the evaluator interviews the member of the partner of the opposite sex.
  • Round table, in which the members of the couple are attended by the two evaluators in a common session.

The proper evaluation process should allow us to:

  1. A description of the characteristics of both members of the couple and the problems of the relationship.
  2. Assist the members of the couple in decision making.
  3. In the event that an intervention program is carried out, determine which therapeutic components are priority and even if this is the ideal therapeutic system for the particular couple.
  4. Continuous assessment of the therapeutic process if intervention is necessary.


Most therapeutic programs consist of twelve sessions organized in five phases:

  • Two training sessions in positive reciprocity intended to increase desire.
  • Three communication training sessions aimed at increasing privacy.
  • Two negotiation training sessions aimed at increasing commitment.
  • Three training sessions on conflict resolution aimed at consolidating and generalizing therapeutic gains.
  • Two sessions for relapse prevention and management of critical situations.

These 12 sessions, of 60 to 90 minutes each, are subject to the peculiarities of each couple, which allows various adaptations and redistributions of sessions.