Last updated on 12th February 2013
Relationships are right at the heart of human health and wellbeing. The first three sets of handouts listed below highlight the increased death rates, poorer psychological health and lowered wellbeing in those with worse relationships. There is a rather confusing plethora of different questionnaires for assessing relationship networks. I like the large amount of helpful information one can elicit from the "Personal community map" and associated sheets (below). Sheldon Cohen has argued convincingly that social intimacy, social integration, and social conflict all make independent contributions to our health and wellbeing - we want higher scores for intimacy & integration and (usually) lower scores for conflict. The community map overall question sheet and the associated brief three question current activities scale help look at all three of these important relationship components. I use this map to identify both current relationships that can be nourished to increase overall intimacy & integration, and also to clarify when it's important to explore how to add new relationships (& new names on the map). The "Relationship questionnaire" is a further way of assessing these components. Other examples of quite widely used questionnaires are the "Social adjustment scale", "Significant others scale", and "Relationship table" (see below). When we look at arguably the two best validated psychotherapies for depression - CBT and IPT - it appears that Interpersonal Psychotherapy focuses on relationships while Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focuses on thoughts and behaviours. It's not so simple, and there's research suggesting CBT therapists may get better results when they too pay more attention to interpersonal factors.
Relationship background facts, Powerpoint handout - slides 1-6 illustrate the reduced risk of earlier death for those with better relationship networks and slides 7-12 (although rather dated) illustrate some of the psychological benefits of good relationships both for stress resilience and for wellbeing.
Relationships are important for our health - I wrote this information leaflet a longish time ago, but it still makes very relevant points.
Psychological needs & wellbeing 1, Psychological needs & wellbeing 2 (SDT) - I use this handout a lot to introduce discussions on wellbeing and the importance of responding to our key basic psychological needs for Autonomy, Competence & Relatedness. Try printing them out as a two-slides-to-a-page Powerpoint handout. For lots more on Self-Determination Theory see the handouts lower down the page at "Wellbeing, time management & self-determination".
Personal community map - this chart is a helpful way of encouraging people to begin describing their relationships. It may take an hour or so to fill in properly, but it can then provide a major focus for subsequent therapy. When handing out this chart, also give the instructions and questions sheets (see below)
Personal community map instructions - these instructions go with the "Personal community map" (above), explaining how to fill the chart in, and giving background information.
Personal community map questions - I ask people to answer these questions as they fill in, and after they've filled in, their personal community map (see above). Their answers help to clarify what they probably need to do to continue building personal relationships that promote health, stress resilience, and wellbeing.
Personal community map activities scale - this set of three quick questions helps monitor week to week relationship involvement. It links with the personal community map exercise above.
Relationship questionnaire & scoring - this is adapted from research showing social support, social integration and social conflict all contribute to self-esteem and health.
Social adjustment scale & instructions - this scale (Weissman et al, 1976) is good. The SAS is well validated, but I now tend to use the more home-made "Personal community map" (above) in preference as I find the latter leads so naturally to good clinical interventions/personal change work.
For further information sheets on this topic, see "Handouts & questionnaires for general relationships (second post)"