A conceptual model of interpersonal sensitivity and its implications for couples in therapy

Steven Richard Lewis (1989)

Interpersonal sensitivity is based in the spheres of social thought and social action. It develops along similar lines as social cognition abilities, such as social perspective-taking and empathy, sharing roots in self and other distinctions. A definition of interpersonal sensitivity is offered that distinguishes it from these similar concepts. A conceptual model of interpersonal sensitivity is described, from the viewpoint of self and other theory and from a cognitive developmental approach. A discussion of interpersonal sensitivity in couples relationships and with couples in therapy illustrates this conceptual model. In the couples therapy setting, the importance of attending to levels of interpersonal sensitivity within the couple, particularly at the beginning of treatment, is stressed. The need for assessment tools and specific therapeutic approaches to increase interpersonal sensitivity is called for.