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Relational Interviewing Training: Emotionally preparing conflicted couple relationships through ethical remembering conversations.

Stephen Madigan will demonstrate his new narrative ideas and relational interviewing practice through recent videos with conflicted couple relationships he recently filmed in Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA. Participants will also experience a number of personal relationship exercises.

Theoretical Premise

  • As a starting point – lets agree with the post-structural idea that relationships are relational.
  • Relational interviewing has a focus on relational ethics not ‘individual’ problems.
  • Relational interviewing concentrates on the unique pre-problem relational ethics the relationship once stood upon.
  • Relational interviewing would not focus on attachment deficits and/or an ‘individuals’ historical trauma/pathology and – are not concerned with structuralist ideas of cause or cure.
  • Relational interviewing feels it is unfair for therapists to view relationship failure and conflict as only the ‘individuals’/couple failure.
  • Couple relationships are shaped by dominant cultural and gendered expectations and in relationship with numerous other relationships and responsibilities (work, school, children, extended family).
  • Relationships are multi-storied and multi-versioned.
  • How a relationship anticipates the possibility of a conflict free future has direct meaning on the relationships present dialogue, practice, and story of the past relational conflict.
  • When the relationship remembers the particularities and multiple stories that make up the relationships ethical past – the story of the relationship expands beyond the confines/restraints of the conflicts frozen landscape.

The Purpose

The purpose of a relational remembering therapeutic conversation is to reinvigorate and re-collect the historical relationship’s relational ethics prior to the onset of the conflict. This practice allows for a reengagement with the relationships ethical and moral principles once important to relational life.

The purpose of the first relational remembering therapeutic session with conflicted couple relationships is to afford the relationship an experiential difference and dialogic place to stand in – beyond the dominant neo-liberal story of a relational conflict existing between two ‘individuals’.

The purpose of remembering conversations allow the relationship to re-experience the ethics of their former pre-problem relationship life and the practiced ethics that allowed the relationship to live free of the present frozen conflict.

The purpose of relational interviewing is to afford a dialogic space for the conflicted couple relationship to re-experience their ethical past in present time and – to imagine a transport of these ethics towards a preferred possible conflict free future.

The purpose of relational interviewing is to ethically assist in emotionally preparing the relationship for future legal narratives of mediation, separation, separation agreements and possible reunification.

The Practice

The starting point of a relational remembering therapeutic conversation is to reinvigorate the historical relationship’s relational ethics prior to the onset of the conflict. The practice allows for a reengagement with the relationships ethical and moral principles once important to relational life.

 What emerges through a crafted relational interview is an appreciation of the beauty of what was once present in the relationship and – how the relationship was once created as unique, loving, intentional and grounded in values such as trust, compromise, fair mindedness, loyalty, generosity.

The couple’s relational ethics (that once served as the foundation of the relationship when it was free of conflict) are thickened, explored and re-imagined as possible building blocks for a newly formed separated (or reunified intimate) relationship of the future.

 The imagined ethical future involves the possibility of a conflict free newly separated relationship based on former relationship ethics.

Therapeutic letters are written directly to the relationship point of view. Each member of the relationship writes a letter from the relationships perspective and reads aloud the relationships preferred idea of what it needs in the future and what it might become.

Ethical documents are written by the relationship from the therapeutic letters as a map to help emotionally prepare and guide the relationship to enter the legal narratives of mediation, separation and separation agreements.

The Presenter

Stephen Madigan is the director of the Vancouver School for Narrative Therapy in Vancouver, Canada. He holds an MSW as well as a MSC and PhD in Couple and Family Therapy. He is the recipient of the American Family Therapy ‘Innovations in Couple and Family Therapy’ award and his recent book on Narrative Therapy theory and practice for the American Psychological Association is now a best seller. His newly revised edition of the book will be available in the Fall of 2016. Stephen serves as a consultant with Norway’s National Team for High Conflict.


Oslo Training



Note: Due to high student enrolment VSNT does not, under any circumstance, offer refunds. If for any reason you miss an VSNT course after payment is made, you are entitled to use the credit within 12 months for other VSNT courses/conference. Questions? Refer to FAQ section on the site or ring 604-688-7860

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