mental health, therapy, counseling and psychology terms glossary

Relational Dysfunction

Relational dysfunction or disorder occurs between at least 2 people and the way they relate to each other. Problems in relationships are not caused by any one person but lies within the relationship itself. The DSM-V defines relational disorder as “persistent and painful patterns of feelings, behaviors, and perceptions involving two or more partners in an important relationship.” 

It is completely possible for two psychologically healthy individuals to find themselves in relational dysfunction or disorder. Most often, the relationships examined are marital and/or parent-child relationships, but this can apply to any relationship that is important to the people involved.

Symptoms of relational disorder or dysfunction often include neglect, contempt, discontent, and violent behaviors. A therapist will begin treatment by analyzing the relationship dynamics and each person’s role in the relationship. They’ll work to identify the areas that could use improvement and suggest different ways in which the problematic dynamics in the relationship can be improved.

Would you like to start improving your interpersonal relationships?