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Words That Haunt

Helping Couples Work Through Old Character Attacks

Ellen Wachtel

By Ellen Wachtel - I used to believe that if a couple was getting along and behaving in a loving way to one another, hurtful and even cruel words would naturally fade into the background. But I’ve frequently seen couples in which hurt spouses may forgive their partner for the harsh words spoken in anger, but nonetheless remain haunted by some biting comment that continues to sting long after the argument is over.

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Disabling Toxic Verbiage

Four Ways to Push Pause on a Verbal Bully

Kate Cohen-Posey

By Kate Cohen-Posey - We live in an age in which using toxic verbiage against others has almost become the norm. Here's how we can help clients deal with these kinds of situations in the moment.

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VIDEO: Breaking Rigid Thinking Around Intimacy

A Three-Part Solution for Couples Therapy

Suzanne Iasenza

Sex therapist Suzanne Iasenza talks about a three-part process that helps couples free themselves from the rigid narratives about sex that keep them from exploring what really brings them pleasure.

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January Quandary: Should I Keep One Partner’s Secret in Couples Therapy?

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Mark and his wife, Nicole, have been in couples therapy for almost six months. But Mark recently requested an individual session, where he revealed he recently shared a kiss with an old girlfriend and has plans to rekindle their friendship. He's asked his therapist to keep the whole thing a secret. Here's how five clinicians say they'd tackle the situation.

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Handling Unexpected Intimacy Issues

Not a Sex Therapist? No Problem

Stephen Snyder

By Stephen Snyder - It’s a shame that so many therapists shy away from talking about sex in the consulting room, believing that they don’t have sufficient expertise. The reality is that any well-trained therapist can help clients understand, and in many cases even resolve, sexual problems—simply by using their natural curiosity, some common sense, and a few key tools.

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Putting an End to the Blame Game

A Tool for Helping Partners See Both Sides

Alicia Muñoz

By Alicia Muñoz - Giving up being right doesn’t mean you give up your convictions. It means honoring a multiplicity of viewpoints. Rumi says, “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” For couples, this garden is their relationship.

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Helping People Pleasers Set Boundaries

…And What to Do When It Backfires

Alicia Muñoz

Alicia Muñoz - Boundaries bind. They limit, stop, and inhibit. But they also free people up to be themselves. In couples where one partner is a people-pleaser, things can get even more complicated.

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Making Partners Therapists for Each Other

In a Good Relationship, Your Problems Aren't Yours Alone

Ellen Wachtel

By Ellen Wachtel - In couples therapy, if we can help each partner be a better therapist for the other, all three of us can feel more helpful and effective. My favorite way is to start by using a particular exercise to provide a window into each partner’s psyche.

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What Successful Couples Are Doing Right

The Gottmans on Mastering the Brain’s Seven Pathways to Emotional Connection

John Gottman, Julie Gottman

By John and Julie Gottman - John and Julie Gottman have spent decades developing an evidence base for couples therapy, honing their techniques for stabilizing marriage through research with nearly 3,000 couples. In the following excerpt from their 2018 Networker Symposium keynote address, they explain what research has revealed about the crucial role the brain’s seven different command systems can play in enhancing the quality of couples’ emotional connection.

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Couples Therapy with a Positive Spin

How to Accomplish Something in Every Session

Ellen Wachtel

By Ellen Wachtel - Doing couples therapy isn’t easy. But often there are implicit positives in statements in which the main point is anger, disappointment, and hurt. With practice, therapists can learn to pick up on the strengths that are embedded in painful emotions.

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