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Sue Johnson on Restoring Connection to Partnership

The Strength of a Relationship Depends on How Partners Respond to This One Question

Susan Johnson • No Comments

By Susan Johnson - Marriages are primarily about the emotional responsiveness that we call love; about fundamental human attachment. The empirically supported model of therapy I've developed allows us to understand what happens at key moments of change and make these moments happen. This means that we can not only heal relationships: we can create relationships that heal.

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

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford • 3 Comments

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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Esther Perel's Secret to Weathering an Affair

Two Ways Couples Who Bounced Back Made It Happen

Esther Perel • 4 Comments

By Esther Perel - For several years, I've been contacting couples I've treated to find out more about the long-term impact of the infidelity that brought them to therapy. What were the useful shock absorbers that sustained the couple? Did they think that therapy had helped? I identified three basic patterns in the way couples reorganize themselves after an infidelity.

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The Retiring Rebel

Rethinking the Way We Help Clients Face the Midlife Crisis

Tammy Nelson • No Comments

By Tammy Nelson - Rather than thinking of midlife as an emotional unraveling, I believe it’s more helpful to reframe this stage of life in our early 50s and 60s as “second adolescence,” a time when we’re old enough to appreciate how short life is, but young enough to find new ways to enjoy it.

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Couples Therapy with a Positive Spin

How to Accomplish Something in Every Session

Ellen Wachtel • No Comments

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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Restoring Intimacy the Natural Way

How to "Build a Bridge" to Sexual Desire

Barry McCarthy • 1 Comment

By Barry McCarthy - Contrary to media myths, movies, and male braggadocio, sex is seldom 100 percent successful, especially as men age. By a certain age, men need to learn what most women already know: good, satisfying, pleasurable sex, particularly in midlife and beyond, is more a matter of intimate teamwork than of physical hydraulics.

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Is Consensual Nonmonogamy Right for Your Clients?

...And Why Nonmonogamous Couples Tend to Avoid Couples Therapists Like the Plague

Margaret Nichols • No Comments

By Margaret Nichols - In past decades, the only alternatives to involuntary celibacy in a relationship were affairs or divorce. But increasingly, people, including therapists, are recognizing there’s another option: consensual nonmonogamy. The idea isn’t new, but nonmonogamy is threatening to a lot of therapists for the same reason it’s threatening to most people: we instinctively want to believe that these unconventional relationships are flawed.

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What's In a Kiss?

Helping Couples Decode the Language of Their Sexuality

David Schnarch • No Comments

By David Schnarch - Over the years, I've worked with many couples who complain bitterly that the other kisses or touches, fondles, caresses, strokes the "wrong" way. These couples need to understand that the ways they show physical affection is a remarkably salient and authentic expression of themselves and their feelings for each other.

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When Male Partners Won't Open Up

Helping Closed-Off Men See Vulnerability as a Path to Healthier Relationships

George Faller • No Comments

By George Faller - Many of our clients, especially men, believe in the traditional definition of vulnerability: a state of weakness that leads to being open to attack. But vulnerability is the language of emotionally connected beings, and like a powerful magnet, pain, doubt, fear, mistrust, and other vulnerable states bring forth new opportunities for deep intimacy and transformation, especially in work with couples.

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Couples Therapy with One Partner: Can It Work?

Creating the Beginnings of a "Solution Avalanche"

Michele Weiner-Davis • 2 Comments

By Michele Weiner-Davis - How is it possible to do couples therapy with just one partner? We clinicians communicate our presuppositions about people and how they change when we do our work. If we begin therapy with a "this is better than nothing" attitude, we undoubtedly broadcast a pessimistic message about the possibilities for change.

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