Book Review: The High Conflict Couple by Alan Fruzetti

Are you looking for a book that gives the lay person’s guide to understanding the nuts and bolts of DBT? I love Alan Fruzetti’s book, The High Conflict Couple. I often encourage my clients to read parts of it because it gives a really lovely overview of problems of emotions in relationships. And I certainly don’t think you have to be part of a couple relationship to benefit from what he has to say.

I especially like the way Fruzetti puts a coherent and descriptive framework around the many frustrations of being understood. His model applies on many levels and (I believe) is extremely helpful in assisting clients to identify and talk about what actually happens to them without blaming themselves or others.

Here is a brief quote from page 71: “The central points are, first, when expression is accurate, the other person can more easily understand, and thus validation (communication of understanding) is easier to provide; and second, when the response you get from your partner is validating, this helps keep your emotional arousal in check, which in turn makes it easier to express yourself accurately.” Alternately, he suggests that heightened emotional arousal can lead to inaccurate self-expression, which in turn can lead to being misunderstood and invalidated.

Alan Fruzetti has definitely packed in a lot of good information into this inexpensive paperback book- which makes it worth returning to on multiple occasions. His materials on validation are quite valuable and are often revisited in my groups.