Psychotherapy Blog


Je T'aime...Me Neither

Posted by Anastasia Piatakhina Gire on 5/5/15 - 7:27 PM
This couple therapy session was the last chance before Anna and Guy’s upcoming wedding in Paris. They had reached out to me for a premarital counselling session via Skype, knowing that I was working with mixed couples. Their situation, as Anna exposed it to me in her short email, needed to be addressed with some urgency: they were due to get married in the town hall of Guy’s native Paris within two weeks, and Anna still had serious doubts about her...

Treating a Couple After an Affair

Posted by Catherine Ambrose, LCSW on 12/13/12 - 5:04 PM
The couple in my office is connected mostly by the spaces they hold between them. Sitting on the loveseat in my office, they do not touch, although their arms, legs, and elbows and hands shift in an unconscious echo of each other’s movements. They are not so much mirroring each other as performing an elaborate dance of avoidance and retreat, their bodies’ dialogue spoken even through their many silences. On a larger scale, the same thing happens where they live:...

Is Self-Regulation or Co-Regulation Better for Couples?

Posted by Tony Rousmaniere, PsyD on 1/20/12 - 4:59 PM
Should couples in distress attempt to change their partner or themselves? Recent research discusses concerns about both of these strategies, and raises an interesting third option. Shreena Hira and Nickola Overall examined 160 couples attempting to change their partner or themselves. As they expected, attempts to change their partner didn’t make either their partner or themselves feel better. Surprisingly, however, a focus on self-change did not consistently help the relationship either. Instead, the researchers discovered that the most beneficial change...

Turning Blaming into Confiding in Couples Therapy

Posted by Dan Wile, PhD on 6/23/11 - 9:06 AM
The defining task in a Collaborative Couple Therapy session is to create an intimate conversation out of whatever is happening—frequently a fight. Sometimes that means helping the partner who has just been accused deal with the accusation. Sometimes, and this is my focus in this write-up, that means reshaping the accusing partner’s angry statement. I speak as if I were that partner, translating his/her blaming statement into a confiding one, in a method similar to doubling in psychodrama. I show...
Filed under: Couples Therapy

Training in Couples Therapy

Posted by Tony Rousmaniere, PsyD on 6/3/11 - 3:05 PM
Why might a therapist who works primarily with individuals consider studying couples’ therapy? If you work from an attachment perspective, as an increasing number of therapists do, then training in couples therapy may greatly inform and improve your work.

Collaborative Couple Therapy With High Conflict Couples

Posted by Dan Wile, PhD on 4/16/11 - 11:40 AM
What’s hard, when dealing with high conflict couples, is getting their attention. If they do register your presence, it is to recruit you to their cause, confiding in you conspiratorily, “Look what I have to put up with.” And if they do acknowledge what you say, it is to turn your comments into ammunition against their partners, assuring you, “Ido what you’re saying, but he never does.” High-conflict couples attack each other at such high velocity that you don’t have...
Filed under: Couples Therapy

Interacting Sensitivities in Couples Therapy

Posted by Dan Wile, PhD on 3/13/11 - 3:03 PM
It is a typical night at Tom and Betsy's house. Tom has his nose in a newspaper.  Betsy is leaning in the door of his study trying to talk to him, getting more and more frustrated at his periodic, vague “Uh huh.” After a few minutes of trying to entice him into a conversation, Betsy starts complaining, and then criticizing him for being cold. Tom snaps, “Can't you just once leave me alone?” Betsy yells, he withdraws further, and Betsy...
Filed under: Couples Therapy

Rules for a Good Relationship

Posted by Dan Wile, PhD on 1/16/11 - 7:43 PM
1. Never go to bed angry.
Stay up all night yelling and screaming. After the way your partner behaved, he doesn’t deserve to sleep.

2. Don’t jump in to help when your partner is telling a joke
--unless, of course, you can tell it much better.

3. When fighting, take a time out.
That will give you a chance to come up with more devastating putdowns.

4. Don’t interrupt your partner.
You need to have all the facts in order to show her how totally wrong she is.

Bids for Emotional Connection in Couples Therapy

Posted by Dan Wile, PhD on 11/15/10 - 12:03 PM
John Gottman’s concept, “bids for emotional connection,” is practically a complete theory of relationships in itself. Hearing the word “bids,” we picture partners reaching out to each other in a variety of ways. Gary Chapman, in his book, The Five Love Languages, lists five such ways: words of affirmation (“That situation was delicate and you really handled it beautifully”), touch (“How about a hug?”), quality time (“Let’s get a babysitter and make a reservation at Chez Alouette”), gifts (“This scarf...
Filed under: Couples Therapy

Working with the Unemotional in Emotionally Focused Therapy

Posted by Sue Johnson, EdD on 10/27/10 - 9:33 AM
It is pretty clear from the research that focuses on how change happens in therapy that emotional engagement is essential for significant change to occur. This is true in individual therapy (for example, research by Castonguay and by Beutler) and it is certainly true in couple therapy (research by EFT therapists like myself). So what happens in an intervention like Emotionally Focused Couple therapy when one person emphatically denies or avoids emotion? The Boy Code insists that men are at...
Filed under: Couples Therapy
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