Change course for Couples


A large employer was moving offices from London to Nottingham and wanted to help people cope well with the change. Many of the people moving were half of a couple, in one case son and mother. We anticipated the change might be more stressful for the partner as the “employee” was at least going to a familiar job.

Outline Programme

This draws on ideas from Marriage Enrichment and Cocounselling

0900 Brief from the organisation about the background to the course and why they thought it important.

0930 Coffee, meeting and milling

0945 Introduction, welcome to the workers and their partners, background to course from myself and the internal trainer, broad objectives, norms and atmosphere (confidentiality, support, listening, sharing thoughts and feelings, OK to enjoy the experience!).

0955 Opening circle, names, situation, one thing that is going well.

1015 Pairs. What you want from this workshop, any reservations/doubts, anything on top.

1040 List wants, answer reservations, review listening briefly.

1100 Coffee etc.

1115 Divide into two groups ‘Employees’ and ‘Partners’. In each group the organisation’s representative gives information about present state of move, answers question for clarification, receives comments, feelings and ideas to feedback to Planning group. At half time switch groups.

1230 Review of morning, plans for the afternoon.

1245 Lunch

1345 The effects of the change and our feelings about it. Pairs and share, work across groups.

1415 Input, reactions to change, shock to adjustment model, where are you? Counselling skills, one way of helping people with change. Counselling as a tool for living, thinking clearly and acting powerfully. The basic skills listening, understanding, encouraging, high expectations, accepting feelings, not judging. Why counselling approaches require particular care in families.

1500 Demonstration of counselling skills with participant. Review of demonstration, what was helpful? If no client volunteer available work with assistant or one of reps. May find people feel more exposed in front of partners.

1530 Tea

1545 Counselling practice with stranger.

1620 Closing circle. One thing you have learned today.

1630 Depart.

Day 2

0930 Opening circle. One thing you will offer today to help the day go well!

0940 Review of counselling practice yesterday and additional input as required to respond to any difficulties.

1030 Coffee

1045 What is a support group? Support is necessary as a means of coping with change. Support at Nottingham at the office and in the community? Set up support groups, use geographical basis in Nottingham (people who will be living close to each other).

1100 Support groups meet, NH and ANO spend time in each group, topics worked on up to individuals, they have free choice.

1230 Review morning

1245 Lunch

1400 Input on ‘Dialogue’, an effective planning and problem solving method for couples. Brief demonstration, if required. Dialogue involves each member of a couple actively listening to and reflecting back the other person’s feelings until the partner has finished and then swapping roles. This can happen many times in a single conversation. There is much more information on working with couples in “Close Companions” by David R Mace.

1430 Dialogue in fours, one active couple, one couple attentively supporting. How we can make the change go as well as possible for us? Each couple has a turn.

1530 Tea

1545 Review of workshop

1600 We invited each person to say one thing they have gained from the workshop and one thing they have enjoyed about working with the group. We also asked if they had any ideas to make itI better next time.

1630 Depart

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick