Marriage Counseling: A Study of Techniques Used in Treating Five Wives Receiving a Minimum of Three Months of Casework at Catholic Charities Family Service, Mineola, L.I. 1966-1967

Jose de A Mendonca, Fordham University


In Chapter l we proposed to study in each case the techniques of treatment used in the casework situation following the classification presented by Florence Hollis. In all eases, sustaining procedures were used in varying degrees. They took the form of interested, sympathetic listening, encouragement, actual reassurance with reference to the clients feelings of guilt and anxiety, and acceptance. Each client felt accepted by the caseworker as a person of worth and value. This is extremely important in casework, since the client is usually harassed by inner conflicts and fears which tend to self devaluation. The caseworker's attitude of positive regard enabled the clients to feel comfortable, to relax their defenses, and to communicate freely with him about their problems. The therapeutic relationship was a permissive one. The caseworker was aware of the fact that in order for the client to relieve his emotional tensions and come to grips with his problems, he must feel free to bring up any thought or feeling that he wishes. Generally, the women brought up superficial problems during the early stages of therapy until they felt that they could trust the caseworker and that he would accept whatever it was that they must tell him. Direct influence was when the worker tried to promote a specific kind of behavior on the client’s part such as handling the children in a certain way. However, in the cases studied, we can see that the need for advice rested with the client, not with the worker; wherever possible the client was induced to think for himself. These procedures of direct influence followed a continue. We can point out instances where the worker gave emphasis to a possible course of action the client himself was already contemplating. Other times, the worker made suggestions, always leaving the client with the alternative of rejecting the idea without feeling that he was going contrary to the worker definite opinion. Forms of direct influence such as giving of advice, advocating or the putting of a certain urgency behind the advice that is offered, were used in a few instances with Mrs. Monte. Actual intervention - the most extreme of all directive techniques was not used. The use of directive techniques was subordinated to the various types of procedures for developing understanding. Florence Hollis says that In casework we have found that the more people can do things for themselves, the more self-directive they can be, the more likely they are to continue functioning successfully after the end of treatment. Once the clients had developed report with the caseworker and had learned that they could express themselves without being criticized or condemned, they often gave way to an outpouring of long bottled-up emotions their fears, hostilities and anxieties. It was this ability to release pent-up emotional tensions to get feelings out in the open where they can be seen for what they are and dealt with accordingly that paved the way for understanding one's problems and taking more constructive attitudes toward them. Emotional release, or catharsis was often an important first step for the client in the direction of achieving new ways of viewing his problems, and of finding better techniques for coping with them.

Subject Area

Psychology|Social work

Recommended Citation

Mendonca, Jose de A, "Marriage Counseling: A Study of Techniques Used in Treating Five Wives Receiving a Minimum of Three Months of Casework at Catholic Charities Family Service, Mineola, L.I. 1966-1967" (1967). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30308750.