family therapy, couple therapy, anxiety, relationships


Early in my (D.B.) training as a family therapist, I did some co-therapy with a clinical psychology student who wanted to learn how to work with couples. The couple we were working with was quite volatile, and it was not uncommon for the dialogue between the spouses to get heated. While it was challenging enough to keep the interactions between the partners moving in a productive direction, my co-therapist was quite uncomfortable with conflict and would emotionally "check out" of the session as soon as things became intense. Each time a session was challenging and conflict became intense, my co-therapist would suggest during our supervision or postsession discussions that we needed to meet with each person separately. Rather quickly the supervisor and I learned that his anxiety about intense emotions was driving this desire, rather than what was necessarily best for the couple. Unfortunately, rather than learning how to become better at couple therapy, the end result of our experience together was more clarity in the clinical psychology graduate student's mind that couple and family work was not what he wanted to spend the rest of his career doing.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., & Poulsen, F. O. (2014). Measurement issues with couple-and family-level data. In R. B. Miller & L. N. Johnson, (Eds.) Advanced Methods in Family Therapy Research: A Focus on Validity and Change. New York: Rutledge.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Taylor & Francis Group




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor