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Why Egalitarian America Needs Dominant Sex

Relationship Advice from Sex Therapist Esther Perel

Esther Perel

America seems to be a goal-oriented society that prefers explicit meanings, candor, and "plain speech" to ambiguity and allusion. But ironically, some of America's best features, when carried too punctiliously into the bedroom, can result in very boring sex. I often suggest an alternative with my clients: "There's so much direct talk already in the everyday conversations couples have with each other," I tell them. "If you want to create more passion in your relationship, why don't you play a little more with the natural ambiguity of gesture and words, and the rich nuances inherent in communication."

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How Effective is Modern Psychotherapy?

The Qualities of Good Therapy, and Where Today's Clinicians Stand

Mary Pipher

Over the past few decades, therapy has made great strides. However, there are areas in which I think therapy may have also gotten worse. The essence of therapy remains the relationship, and the greatest gift to a client with virtually any problem is a focused, curious, empathic listener. But right now, pressure to speed up therapy can undercut the sanctity of the therapeutic relationship. Like good cooking, I think good therapy takes time. In many ways, we’re treating people in therapy offices as if it were 1960. But it’s a really different time, and there are a lot of issues we’re not approaching because we don’t know how.

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Passionate Marriage

Helping Couples Decode the Language of Their Sexuality

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. I used to take these complaints at face value, trying to help the couple solve their problems through various forms of marital bargaining, until I realized that their sexual dissatisfactions didn't stem from ignorance, ineptitude, or a "failure to communicate." Instead of trying to spackle over these normal and typical "dysfunctional" sexual patterns with a heavy coat of how-to lessons, I have learned that it makes much more sense to help the couple analyze their behavior, to look for the meaning of what they were already doing before they focused on changing the mechanics.

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Erotic Intelligence

Reconciling Sensuality and Domesticity

Esther Perel

America, in matters of sex as in much else, is a goal-oriented society that prefers explicit meanings, candor, and "plain speech" to ambiguity and allusion, the former encouraged by many therapists in their patients. But I often suggest an alternative with my clients: "There's so much direct talk already in the everyday conversations couples have with each other," I tell them. "If you want to create more passion in your relationship, why don't you play a little more with the natural ambiguity of gesture and words, and the rich nuances inherent in communication."

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Bad Couples Therapy

Betting Past the Myth of Therapist Neutrality

William Doherty

Most therapists learn couples therapy after they get licensed--through workshops and by trial and error. Most specialize in individual therapy, and work with couples on the side. So it's not surprising that the only form of therapy that received low ratings in a famous national survey of therapy clients, published in 1996 by Consumer Reports, was couples therapy. The state of the art in couples therapy isn't very artful. I'll start with beginners' mistakes and then describe how couples therapy can go south, even in the hands of experienced therapists.

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Are You There for Me?

Understanding the Foundations of Couples Conflict

Susan Johnson

On the first day of a clinical placement in my doctoral program during the early 1980s, I was assigned to a counseling center and told by the director that because of unexpected staffing problems, I'd be seeing 20 couples a week. I'd never done any couples therapy, but I did have considerable experience as a family and individual therapist with emotionally disturbed adolescents--a tough, challenging group of clients if ever there was one! So my first thought when given this new assignment was, "After what I've done, how hard can this be?" I plunged in and almost immediately was appalled by how hard it actually could be!

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The Slippery Slope

Violating the Ultimate Therapeutic Taboo

Susan Rowan

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Raising the Issue of Race in Therapy

Finding the Connection between Personal and Cultural Struggles

Marlene Watson

The black shadow is a mostly unconscious, deep-seated belief in the myth of black inferiority. A term I coined myself, the black shadow serves to encapsulate the dysfunctional racist belief, promulgated in America since times of slavery and internalized in African Americans, that blacks are less worthy than whites.

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From Research to Practice: Scoreboard for Couples Therapies

Which are the Winners in the Latest Research?

Jay Lebow

Couples therapy is on a roll. Whereas a mere 20 years ago, surveys showed that consumers didn't think much of it, today it's become increasingly accepted by the general public. Yet the research about couples therapy, as well as research about couples themselves--why some marriages succeed and others don't--hasn't kept pace with the growth of couples therapy.

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Are You There for Me?

Understanding the Foundations of Couples Conflict

Susan Johnson

And yet, I wondered, if we didn't have a theory of adult love and emotion, how could we truly understand what marriage was all about, let alone help couples make any real changes? Furthermore, even if we began to understand more about how love actually played out in marriage, what could we possibly do, as therapists, to bring it back into the process of therapy with troubled couples?

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