“What Do You Do When…?”

Free 5-part Workshop

This past week I demonstrated how to use the Developmental Model to tackle tough impasses you will likely encounter. I hope you found my demonstrations helpful whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced couples therapist.

Thanks for your interest in this powerful and transformative work.

On this page you’ll find the information from one day’s question, and if you scroll to the bottom you’ll find links to pages with all of the articles and webinar replays.

Access to your free workshop will be available until September 22 at 11:59pm Pacific Time.

What Do You Do When Your Clients Aren’t Telling You What You Need to Know?

There’s something I like to call “The Presenting Problem Paradox.” Therapists everywhere face this challenge at times.

Couples come in convinced they know what the problem is. It is their relationship after all!

They tell you what’s wrong, and what they think they need. That makes our job pretty simple, right? We just use our years of experience to give them what they need and everything is better.

I wish it were this easy!

If you follow the lead of some couples and give them what they think they need, your work will take longer. It will be meandering, and everyone will end up frustrated at some point.

But there is good news. When you know what to look for, and can identify developmental arrests clearly, you can look underneath to easily see what’s wrong. Then, and only then, can you give them the kind of targeted support that they actually need — not the change they say they want.

I revealed exactly how to do that today.

You’ll come away with clarity about how to recognize 6 developmental capacities that contribute to most couples being stuck. You’ll know how to show your couples the changes that will make the most difference.

I’ll also show you a short 5-minute exercise that reveals so much that is unspoken.

Thanks to everyone that showed up live.




Click here to download the full color slides
Click here to download a printable version of the slides


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If you enjoyed and learned something on this webinar, we would really appreciate it if you could leave your comments below.

38 responses to "Clients Aren’t Telling You What You Need To Know"

  1. Finally getting to watching the first of the training sessions and WOW ! I am so appreciative of the exercise and how truly transformative the work is when one partner is intentionally listening and taking in the other; and how to assist the one less differentiated to find their voice and slow the other down. The connection is established and they have a true Encounter. Looking forward to learning more from you. Thank you .

  2. I'm way behind and trying to catch up:) I just finished the 1st webinar broadcast. My question for you Ellyn is at 49:40 approximately in the session, Paul says: “If you want me to be a pain and get under whatever is going on…..” And I was struck by his use of language – implying that getting into her space of vulnerability and validating her – he saw as a pain. I thought that was an important indication of his emotional teachings. Do you have any comments on that?

  3. I truly enjoyed watching this presentation pertaining many good qualities such as an insightful approach to the conflict avoidance couple; maintaining a connection with respect of differentiating an individual's desire from the other; the experiential technique using the paper exercise. I am excited to use this technique in my next session with a couple.

  4. I have just watched the replay, and thoroughly enjoyed listening and learning. I am a novice, no formal qualifications, but very interested in the subject and I appreciate the way in which I am able to learn more so that I can progress formally. Thank you.

  5. The player is not working. It says “The player is having trouble. We’ll have it back up and running as soon as possible.” I would hate to miss this! Thank you

  6. Is it an issue that when you ask clients for feelings they don't seem to be able to name true emotions such as embarrassment, warmth, elation, irritation or surprise. Instead they go to evaluations such as heard, or enlightened?

  7. Thank you for such an informative and educational presentation. I learnt so much in just an hour and half, and am looking forward to the next one on Wednesday. I am trying to print out the presentation. However, with a dark background, I'm running through ink incredibly fast. Is there anyway to make the slides with a lighter background for those of us that want to print it out, please? Would so appreciate that. Thank you.

  8. I also wasn't able to link-up yesterday, so really appreciated the opportunity to catch up. I found the discussion about the need for individual therapy that often presents itself ,very helpful. Doing some individual work during the couple's session ,I have often found very helpful in terms of the improved understanding by the partner of subconscious factors contributing to the other partner's interpretation of interactions and their reaction upon it.
    Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us.

  9. Thank you for making this available to replay, I was unable to join live because of previously scheduled sessions so this option is incredibly helpful.

  10. I can't download the pdf of the slides! I have tried two different internet browsers. Others must have the same difficulty…? Hope you can fix this glitch. Thanks 🙂
    Thanks for your generosity in sharing all this Ellyn.

  11. I was unable to get onto the live webinar yet very grateful for sharing the slides and taking the steps for more viewer capacity. Hopefully I will be with you on the next one. Carmen- Madrid, Spain

  12. I was not able to join last night but looking forward to catching up with this and thank you for sending the slides. I am on lesson five and already the developmental model is changing my working practice for the better Looking forward to the year ahead. Can’t get enough!!

  13. Thank you so much for this interesting material. Looking forward to watch the webinar as I missed it yesterday due to time difference. 10 am in California is 3 am in Sydney! Think of your friends across the ocean next time! But great that we can still have access to your invaluable material. Love.

  14. Couldn't get in to the live webinar due to the Zoom registration etc.
    Many thanks for the PDF slides.
    I hope to get in for the replay.
    Much appreciated.

  15. Haven’t heard the webinar yet.
    Appreciate the pdf files that have been so generously shared and developed. Have a good sense and overview what was explored during the webinar.
    Much Gratitude,
    Cathy Ray

  16. I enrolled in the Couples Institute training program this summer and I can't say enough about how much I've already learned. It is terrific, and feels a bit daunting to apply but the support is plentiful and what I have been applying is changing everything about my couples' sessions. Thank you!

  17. Great meeting today. I understood how the developmental model adds perspective in a couples relationship. The couple you and Peter interviewed we perfect as an example of boundaries, and more being acted out. Looking forward to more insights!

  18. An update-The link to the slides is already here. Scroll up and you will see the link.
    It will take us until tomorrow to post the webinar replay. It will be here until September 22nd.
    Also, please check your time zones. We are in California and have listed the times in the Pacific Zone.
    I hope to see you Wednesday and Friday.

  19. Yes, as above for others, I would really appreciate the opportunity to link in at the next chance. I would love to access the recordings and handouts.

    Please let me know how I might access this information.all best.

  20. Please let me know where to find the replay of the video (and the handouts). I just tuned in at the end and would love to watch. Thanks! Dahlya Smolash, RP(Q) – Ontario, Canada

  21. I am so appreciative of you sharing your knowledge and experience with me. Having a different lens from which to view couples was healthy and meaningful. The work is truly transformative. I walked away with insight into working with couples in a way that will help the clients to self-define and still maintain connectedness, Thank you, I am excited to learn more of the Developmental Model.

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