Destructive conflict in nonviolent couples: A treatment guide

Judith P. Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nonviolent couples with destructive conflict frequently create one- sided or mutual emotional abuse. Therapists who work with these couples know that without sufficient structure and specific therapeutic interventions the sessions can quickly become verbally explosive and counterproductive. In order to understand the meaning and consequences of destructive conflict, the dynamic is approached from several theoretical perspectives. Clinical concepts such as power regulation, cognitive schema, high arousal, defensive splitting and problem laden stories are then used to develop an integrated approach to therapy. Treatment recommendations include creating a safe environment, working with splitting and underlying belief systems, creating a vision of change and supporting new ways of relating. Lastly, the therapist's personal reactions are explored in order to maximize understanding and effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-85
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Emotional Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Countertransference
  • Couples treatment
  • High arousal
  • Integrated approach
  • Schema
  • Splitting
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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