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Couple’s Interview/Conflict Cycle (20%) In this assignment you will practice the conflict model by working with a couple who will play a role of an argumentative marriage. It is important that the couple you work with not actually be “themselves” because it might place you and them in a position where they reexperience real conflict and become in need for an actual therapeutic intervention. If our fundamental ethical mandate is “do no harm”, then creating a potential where volunteer participants might be drawn into actual marital tension while providing a service to students in-training, and creating a potential where students are called upon to act beyond their training or expertise is unwise and outside of our ethical boundary. Therefore, to alleviate this risk we ask that you seek friends or family members who can play in the role of conflicted couple. Your actors may or may not be married to each other. They should read carefully the “personality script” as presented in this assignment. They are free to speak extemporaneously (ad lib—creativity) about their character. Your task as the counselor is to journey through the conflict/restoration cycle by asking questions and presenting to them your knowledge of the process. Their task is to imaginatively act the role assigned and remain true to their character. Welcome to Mike and Annika. Mike is 37 years old. Annika or “Anni” is 36. They have been married for 13 years. They met in college. Mike was a junior and Anni a sophomore. They married after Anni graduated. They have two children, Michaela, a daughter who is 8 and Andrew is 4. Mike works as a corporate accountant in the automobile industry. Anni is a math teacher at the middle school level. Mike is an accountant through and through, not to the point where people think he is a nerd, but close—by his estimation. He thrives on directness, order, punctuality, straight rows and columns. Mike is disciplined in every area of his life. He is at the Gym at 6.00 a.m. every morning. Runs on the treadmill for 15 minutes, lifts weights for 15 minutes and swims for 15 minutes. He is on the road to work by 7.00 and at his desk by 7.40. His day is very routine and orderly. He is home by 5.40 each night. He makes dinner, works on tasks such as kid transport or runs to the store. He helps then checks on homework and seeks that they are ready to start the next day. He an Anni talk after the kids go to bed, then he is asleep by 10.00, ready to repeat tomorrow. Mike was the oldest of three and grew up in a divorced home. His dad was a pilot who had a family in another state. Mike was 10 when everything became exposed. His dad opted to divorce Mike’s mom and to marry the other person. When his dad left, he told Mike that he was to be the “man of the house” and to watch over his mom and younger brother and sister. Literally, Mike never spent time with his father again. His dad made attempts while Mike was in middle school and high school. They would talk on birthday’s and holidays by phone, but Mike couldn’t accept that his dad picked the other family over him. Sadly, when Mike was 16 his dad died in a boating accident. Mike is the kind of guy who doesn’t get mad…he maintains order, does his job and stays to himself. His joys in life are in seeing his family succeed and completing project on budget and on time—be it at work or home. He is friendly but he has few friends. No one has any real negative word to say about Mike if they did it would be related to his distance and quietness. The positive ones include loyal, dependable, and self-sufficient. Anni is very different. She is the “likeable math teacher”. She has energy, expression and enthusiasm. She is great at helping middle schoolers get over math phobias and fear of failure. She says that she is really a teaches the subject “you can do this”. She just uses the math textbook as the curriculum for encouragement. Anni grew up in Germany. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was in middle school. Her parents came to the U.S. because her father worked in the foreign service. When Anni finished high school, she went to college in the U.S. and when she married Mike, she became a U.S. citizen. While it was challenging to come from a different culture, her enthusiasm won friends easily. When she is not working and not attending to her children’s needs, she is with friends, lots of friends. She plays tennis—to be with friends. She takes cooking classes—to be with friends. At church she is part of a large Saturday morning Bible study—in large part to be with friends. Anni’s parents and siblings have moved back to Germany, so she has no family in the U.S. Mike’s family remains separate and distant—they all are “Christmas Card close”. They have lived in your community from the time they graduated from college. They have an OK marriage. They aren’t divorcing. They are not violent. There is no risk of affairs. They have fun with their kids. But they are not close. Anni has a list of friends and activities which captivates and sustains. Mike is content to be by himself. Their marriage can easily descend into frustration. Mike can tell that Anni is unhappy—maybe bored—with him. He wishes to have a successful family and would do anything that she asks. If she wants conversation, he is happy to listen. When she wants him to talk more about his “feelings” he really tries, but it rings hollow and shallow. At times he feels exhausted by her energy, ideas, improvements, always onto the next thing. He’d like to go to a baseball or softball game and watch the kids, then mow the lawn, sweep the garage, and change the oil. That is a great day! Mike and Anni have scheduled a marriage counseling session with you. You are to walk them through the marital conflict cycle to help them understand the self-sustaining pattern of pain, defense and offense. Take this information and write a detailed essay or analysis of the couple. using the information and Using the conflict model in Counselling couples in conflict. by James N. Sells & Mark A. Yarhouse.

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