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What Makes Couples Therapy Stick?

Three Ways to Maintain Progress Outside the Consulting Room

Carolyn Daitch

By Carolyn Daitch - Successfully combating and overriding firmly ingrained behaviors requires practice. It's our job as therapists to help clients learn how and when to practice these skills, and then make sure they go home and do it.

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Helping Couples Cross the Argument Impasse

A Four-Step Process

B. Janet Hibbs

By B. Janet Hibbs - In their first therapy session, Bob tells his wife, Sandy, to stop emailing her former college boyfriend. She refuses, feeling mistrusted and controlled, and their exchange heats up. Many couples like these are at an impasse, caught up in a struggle to prove who's right. Here's how to help them get past these kinds of unwinnable arguments and resolve their differences.

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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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Returning to Connection

A Couple on Brink of Divorce Finally Learns to Show Vulnerability

Silvina Irwin

By Silvina Irwin - It’s my first session with Jeff and Miranda. “Honestly, I don’t know why I’m here,” Miranda spits out. “He's cheated on me since we started dating 25 years ago." Can I avoid doing further damage to their precarious relationship? Do I tell Miranda to run for the hills? What if Miranda takes a leap of faith and decides to trust Jeff once more—and he betrays her yet again?

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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

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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The Core of Couples Therapy

Susan Johnson Explains the Root of Most Couples Conflict

Susan Johnson

By Susan Johnson - In couples therapy, the heart of the matter rarely concerns the content of a couple's arguments, but almost always concerns the strength and responsiveness of the attachment relationship they have. The bottom-line test of that relationship is in the answer to a fundamental question each is asking the other: Are you really there for me?

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How Much Are We Really in Control?

Retraining the Knee-Jerk Brain

Brent Atkinson

By Brent Atkinson - Conscious understanding and effort aren’t the mighty forces we assume they are. Our automatic urges and inclinations are much stronger than most of us ever imagined. Even so, there's something we can do to retrain the emotional brain.

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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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How To Stop Couples Conflict Before It Even Starts

...And the Five Life Factors That Contribute to Intensifying Anger Arousal

W. Robert Nay

By W. Robert Nay - Therapy often involves entirely too much talking about new skills the client should put into place, but not enough rehearsing. Just as exposure training reduces anxiety to feared situations, having couples rehearse conflict makes them feel less threatened as they learn new ways of responding to old anger triggers.

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