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What is psychology triangulation?

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Quick Answer

Psychology triangulation is when people do not address conflicts and disagreements with one another but instead bring in a third party, so the original feuding parties do not have to speak to one another, Psychology Today explains. Dr. Murray Bowen first identified the concept, reports the Well Counseling Center.

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Psychological triangulation can form in many relationship types, but it tends to occur most often in close friend or family relationships, notes Psychology Today. An element of healthy triangulation is present in most family relationships, such as when two children are fighting about who gets to have a friend over and go to a parent to settle the fight. Healthy triangulations occur when two people come together to help meet the needs of a third rather than when two people bring in a third person to avoid speaking with one another, according to GoodTherapy.

Triangulation usually occurs because two people have a difficult time confronting one another about an ongoing conflict. Therapy can be helpful for relationships where triangulation is a common occurrence because the therapist can act as the third party. In this example, the two people in conflict present their problems and speak their thoughts aloud to the therapist while they are both in the room. This can make it easier and less threatening to both parties to share their thoughts with one another, notes Psychology Today.

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