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How to Get the Most From Your Couples Therapy

Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of couples therapy. They are not sure of what to expect of the therapist or even if the therapist has any expectations of them. I have found most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier, more functional, relationship. They expect to learn some new or better skills. However, most people hope their partner will do most of the learning in problem areas. After 30 years of clinical experience and specializing in working with thousands of couples, I have arrived at some guidelines that can make our work more effective.… Read more...

Daily Double Practice Guide – Up the Ante

Sport couple of athletes successHere’s something you can do for your relationship today. It’s called The Daily Double 30-Day Challenge. Twice a day – for 30 consecutive days – say or do something that communicates to your partner that you love, value or appreciate them. *And – if you're now looking to up the ante – avoid negative behaviors at the same time (see below).… Read more...

Couples As a Team: Questions to Discuss with Your Partner

Build your foundation today so you can thrive tomorrow. These questions pull for your values, interests, challenges and perhaps priorities… all things to explore with each other as you contemplate working as a team. Discuss these questions when you are relaxed and have ample time, perhaps over a nice dinner. 1.   What gives me energy in life? (People, places, things, activities) 2.   What sucks energy out of me? (People, places, things, activities) 3.   What do I want to be really good at? 4.   What would I attempt if I knew positively I would not fail? 5.   Ask your partner, “What can I do to bring out the best in you?” 6.   … Read more...

Couples As a Team: The Daily Double

Sport couple of athletes successHere’s something you can do for your relationship today. It’s called The Daily Double. You earn two points today by doing two positive things on the positive list below, while avoiding doing any of the negative behaviors from the list at the end.… Read more...

Has your spouse cheated on you?

broken heart for infidelity …a starting point for overcoming the pain of infidelity. Holy #@%!, I don’t need to tell you about the anguish you’re going through if you've discovered your partner cheated. Most couples don’t have a “no cheat” agreement. It is simply assumed you won’t lie about who you are with and what you are doing. The discovery feels like getting hit in the stomach by a cinder block flying at the speed of sound. Suddenly it feels like your relationship was built on a pile of broken stones. What’s real? What can you believe? You wonder if you are crazy. (You’re not.) You wonder if you should stay or go.… Read more...

What do you do when therapy stalls after the first few sessions?

couples therapy stalls Ask Ellyn #8: I am good at getting started with couples, but after 8-10 sessions I feel stuck. I seemed to make headway at the beginning, but now my sessions seem repetitive. What am I missing? The couple keeps bringing up the same old complaints. What do you do when therapy stalls?… Read more...

Ask Ellyn: 8 questions, 8 answers, 8 days!

Ellyn_Spring_2015_225You have probably had a couple who has stalled out. There is progress, then regression. This happens for many reasons: change requires time and developmental evolution; trauma gets triggered and re-triggered; partners don’t take home with them what they learned in therapy; and many more… So I've created a new series to help you when therapy stalls. In it I cover 8 common problems with 8 specific solutions to keep your work moving forward. It also includes principles and interventions you can apply immediately with your clients. Here are just a few of the questions from therapists like you that I will be answering:“I have a couple that often regresses into bickering, arguing and blaming.… Read more...

What To Do When You Screw Up With Your Partner

oops-road-sign-225 You messed up.  You really blew it.  Your partner is giving you heck about it, seething with disappointment and hurt.  Guilt washes over you, as your conscious mind reminds you that you didn’t keep your word or your end of a commitment.  Or you might have a more flippant attitude, “What’s the big deal anyway? Get over it!”… Read more...

How to Get the Most From Your Couples Therapy

Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of couples therapy. They are not sure of what to expect of the therapist or even if the therapist has any expectations of them.   I have found most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier, more functional, relationship. They expect to learn some new or better skills. However, most people hope their partner will do most of the learning in problem areas. After 30 years of clinical experience and specializing in working with thousands of couples, I have arrived at some guidelines that can make our work more effective.… Read more...

My Marriage Is Like a Bunch of Rhinos

White rhinocerosEllyn and I have a special interest in Africa. We’ve been fortunate to travel there a few times, building classrooms in refugee camps and sometimes even going on safaris. On our last African safari I discovered the correlation between rhinos and my marriage.… Read more...
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