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

IBH has created a user-friendly, time-efficient online process for evaluating the course and receiving your certificate of completion. To earn your CE certificate, you must submit a course evaluation. Onsite at the workshop, you will receive a handout outlining the steps to access the post workshop website to complete the evaluation process. A unique website link will be provided to you onsite. You may complete this process immediately after the conclusion of the course.


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.


CE Information

The Institute for Better Health (IBH), formerly IAHB, has been approved as a provider of continuing education and continuing medical education by the organizations listed below. IBH as the approved sponsor maintains responsibility for the educational activity offered and for following the standards and regulations for the organizations listed above (except where otherwise noted).

COUNSELORS: IBH 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 Better Health (IBH) 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. Counselors may earn 18 contact hours.

EDUCATORS: The Institute for Better Health has been approved by the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board (WESPSB), a member of NASDTEC, as a Clock Hour Provider for Educators. Learners may claim one Clock Hour for each activity hour attended. Please contact your individual state boards for information regarding reciprocity and any additional requirements.

NURSES: The Institute for Better Health accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. Provider approved by the CA Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP#2672) for 18 CEH’s.

PSYCHOLOGISTS: Institute for Better Health (IBH) is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Institute for Better Health (IBH) maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

SOCIAL WORKERS: Institute for Better Health (IBH) SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0091. This course is approved for 18.00 contact hours. IBH has been approved by the State of Texas Board of Social Work Examiners, MC 1982, PO BOX 149347, Austin, TX 78714 (512)719-3521, to provide continuing education activities for social workers. License No. 3876.

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 Better Health 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 (UNA-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.

Michelle Joy, MFT, and Ellen Bader, PhD, have no relevant financial relationships.

There was no commercial support for this activity.


Target Audience

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