The Foundation of Couples Therapy

18 hours

Michelle Wangler Joy, MA, MFT


  1. Identify five stages of couples’ development.
  2. Define differentiation and recognize the characteristics of how differentiation evolves.
  3. Diagnose couples’ developmental stage using two different methods.
  4. Select stage-appropriate interventions for the treatment of couples.
  5. Recognize the components of effective goals for partners in couples therapy.
  6. Provide couples a framework for conducting productive, conflict-laden discussions.
  7. Use a specific intervention to help couples manage conflict, delay gratification, increase differentiation and build effective empathy.
  8. Disrupt fusion in couples with conflict avoidant patterns.
  9. Identify entrenched blame and withdrawal patterns and weaken them.
  10. Identify the core issues for each partner that are being re-enacted in the couples dynamics and normalize this phenomenon for couples.
  11. Balance communication skills with self-soothing techniques to manage reactivity.
  12. Manage narcissistic and passive-aggressive partners in couples therapy.


Course fees, including what is covered, and deadlines for cancellations and refunds

This is a 9-month class that meets once a month during the academic year.  The fee for the series is $950.00, payable in two installments: $475.00 prior to the first session, and then the final payment of $475.00 due in early January prior to session 5. To reserve your place in this training group, we request a deposit of $100, which will be part of the first installment. For those who choose to pay the full fee prior to the first session, we offer a 10% discount.

Course fee covers instruction and handouts.

The group is kept small for maximum personal attention. Coursework builds on material taught in previous sessions, so it is impossible for newcomers to join late, should a member decide to withdraw. For those reasons, refunds are not given except in the most unusual cases, personally approved by the instructor.


General Instructions/Requirements for CE/CME Participants

You must attend the course in full in order to receive CE credit. No partial credit will be awarded.
Please sign in and out each day. If you do not sign both in and out, you will not be eligible to receive credit.


How to Get Your Completion Certificate

IAHB has created a user-friendly, time-efficient online process for evaluating the course and receiving your certificate of completion. Three steps are described below.  If you have problems or questions, contact IAHB's technical support team at (800) 258-8411.

  1. Please allow up to four weeks from the conclusion of the workshop for your post-test (if applicable) evaluation and certificate to be available online. Once this information is posted online, you will receive an email with a link to complete the post-test (if applicable) and  evaluation.
  2. Once this is completed and assuming you passed the test, your CE Certificate will appear on your screen for printing.
  3. You may return at any time to reprint your certificate if needed.


For Other Questions or Grievances

If at any point you have any other concerns, grievances, or questions please contact The Couples Institute office by phone at (650) 327-5915 or via email at [email protected].

Please also let us know if you would like to request accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Accreditation Information

The Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior (IAHB) has been approved as a provider of continuing education by the organizations listed below. IAHB as the approved sponsor maintains responsibility for the live educational activity offered and for following the standards and regulations for the organizations listed below (except where otherwise noted) for 18 CE hours.

IAHB is approved by the State of Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (License #168-000119). IAHB has been approved by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists to provide CE offerings for MFTs. Provider Number 154. Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior, Inc. (IAHB) is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors. #MHC-0063. This course has been approved by the NY State Board for approval for 18 contact hours.

CA State Counselors and MFTs may receive CE credit hours through reciprocity with APA and ASWB.

Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, (BRN Provider CEP#2672) for 18 CE hours. The Institute for Advancement of Human Behavior accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

IAHB is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  IAHB maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

IAHB SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of CE for licensed Social Workers. This course has been approved by the NY State Board for approval for 18 contact hours. Provider #0091.  As an approved continuing education provider for the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners, IAHB offers continuing education for Texas licensed social workers in compliance with the rules of the board. License No. 3876; MC 1982, PO Box 149347, Austin, TX 78714, (512) 719-3521. Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior, #1426, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 3/16/2017 – 3/16/2020. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 18 clinical continuing education clock hours.

NOTE: Many state boards accept offerings accredited by national or other state organizations. If your state is not listed, please check with your professional licensing board to determine whether the accreditations listed are accepted.


Disclosure of Relevant Financial Relationships

The Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior, Inc. is responsible for the content, quality and scientific integrity of all CE/CME activities certified for credit. When an educational activity is offered for medical (CME),  Nursing (ANCC) and/or Psychology (APA) continuing education credit, participants must be informed  as to the source, amount, nature, and disposition of any funding used to support the activity, whether  in the form of educational grants, cash contributions, or in-kind contributions.

Individuals in a position to influence course content must also disclose whether they have one or more relevant financial relationships with individuals and companies who have a financial interest in activity content.

All those in a position to control the content of an education activity are asked to disclose any relevant financial relationships they have with any commercial interest.

Ellyn Bader, PhD has no relevant financial relationships.
Michelle Wangler Joy, MA has no relevant financial relationships.


Target Audience

This course is for mental health professionals at a beginner level with a year or more experience in couples therapy.