Draw (or ask the client to draw) the steps of a ladder. Under the ladder, name the different types of relationships the client has in their life.

Together, build a staircase:

  • The first flight of stairs is who – e.g. your friend, the guy at the newsagent 
  • The second flight of stairs is behaviours – what do you do with this person – e.g. I hug my friend, I don’t hug the guy at the post office. I kiss my partner on the lips, I kiss my friend on the cheek 
  • The third flight of stairs is feelings – how do the behaviours make you feel physically? e.g. When my brother hits me I feel pain in my arms and legs. When I hug my friend, I feel warm in my body. When my neighbour kisses me, I feel butterflies in my tummy 
  • The fourth flight of stairs is emotions – how do these different types of relationships make you feel emotionally? My partner makes me feel happy and sad. My friends sometimes make me feel afraid. 

By building each step of the ladder, you are building concrete understandings of different types of relationships and how this person sees different relationships. You can even add another step to the ladder about public and private spaces – in what kind of places do certain behaviours occur? (e.g. I kiss my boyfriend in public (at the train station, at the shops), but my boyfriend and I touch each other‘s bodies in private (at home, in our bedroom when other people are in the house)).

An example of a relationship ladder for someone in an intimate sexual relationship might look like the one on the following page.

Peter: Boyfriend/Intimate Partner

First flight of stairs

  • Hug
  • Kiss
  • Have sex
  • Go on dates
  • Hang out together
  • Have fights

Second flight of stairs

  • Use my tongue to kiss
  • Use my whole body including my private parts to have sex
  • I feel yucky in my tummy when I don’t want to have sex and my boyfriend does

Third flight of stairs

  • Hugs kisses and sex make me feel loved
  • Sometimes I’m sad when I don’t want to have sex but my boyfriend has sex with me anyway
  • I’m angry when he doesn’t want to hang out with me
  • I feel happy when we do fun things together

Fourth flight of stairs

  • We hug in public
  • We go on dates in public
  • We kiss in public and in private
  • We have sex in private
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