In 1988 Drs Ellyn Bader & Pete Pearson wrote a book, Quest for the Mythical Mate, suggesting there are normal developmental stages that long-term committed relationships move through.
They developed a comprehensive model of relationships and couple therapy that is unique in its breadth and depth and provides therapists with a roadmap for helping couples through relationship struggles and psychological growth.
The model integrates the lenses of attachment theory, differentiation theory (which are frequently depicted as being mutually incompatible) and neuroscience to provide a multi-faceted way of assessing and intervening.
The consideration of each person’s attachment history is utilized to assist greater awareness of unconscious interactional patterns and emotional triggering. The addition of a differentiation perspective ensures that people don’t feel reliant on their partner changing in order to make progress. Rather, it encourages each partner to focus on their own change instead of looking to their partner for solutions.
Therefore combining assessment of attachment style with developmental stage allows the therapist to choose and/or tailor interventions for the presenting clients with clarity.
The model offers clients a sophisticated skills-training approach that allows clients to learn new skills in the context of meaningful exercises that make sense and seem relevant to them.
Drawing on our growing understanding of the neurobiology of emotions, attachment and selfhood it also offers concrete strategies for dealing with responses that are deeper than the rational mind can reach.
If you want to learn more, read here in a blog post by Dr Ellyn Bader, one of the founders of the model.