Ellyn interviews a group member who was skeptical about online training

Ellyn:  Hi Barbara. Thank you for speaking with me today. I have a feeling there are lots of people who feel as resistant as you did about an online training program. I think it would be really helpful for them if I could ask you a few questions about your experience.

First can you say a little bit about why you thought it wouldn’t work for you?

Barbara:  I’m part of a generation before the computer, so online learning is not in my comfort zone. I thought I’d feel detached from the teacher. And without being there in person, I just didn’t think it would be effective for me.

Ellyn:  I certainly understand that because I’m of that same generation. When I first started doing this, I even wondered if it could work. It’s not a format that I was used to teaching in either, so I had to learn how to teach in this format.

Barbara:  I love to interact, and it seemed like the questions and learning would be much more interactive if I was there in person. I thought I’d have to come to Menlo Park to get more training.

I was pretty skeptical at first about getting as much as I wanted from the class. But you encouraged me to try it. You said, “Just try it. No pressure.” And I did. I never thought it would work as well as it has.

Ellyn:  You signed up and you got started. And then how did you get into making it work for you?

Barbara:  Originally I had no idea that your teaching, updating, videos and insights would be so continual. I commented to you online saying,  “There’s so much – all the lessons and the phone teaching and the bonus calls.”

You explained it’s not meant to be done all at once. You said, “Do it in your own time. Read the lessons when you can and pick up the phone calls later. Just make it work within your schedule.”

Ellyn:  Did anything surprise you?

Barbara:  I don’t know what other people expect, but I really had no idea what I was getting into except that I was going to learn this new theoretical approach. It sounded great because I’d taken conferences from you and Pete and I thought it sounded like something that would fit with my belief system.

I had no idea how generous your teaching was going to be in terms of what you send to us.

The best surprise was my “1:00 in the morning” story. One morning I was just not sleeping, so I sat down at the computer at 1:00am. I always have something interesting to pull up on the computer because of the couples training. I was looking at that and I had a question. I thought, “I’ll write Ellyn. I know it’s 1:00 in the morning and I don’t expect anything from her at this point, but I’ll hear something tomorrow or the next day.”

So I wrote you my question at 1:00, and then I was doing some other things on the computer. The next thing I knew, at 1:30 am you wrote me an answer! I said to myself, “Oh my gosh, Ellyn is just as invested in me and my learning as I am in wanting her to teach me!” I thought that was just great.

That was great. I had to laugh.

Ellyn:  It must have been luck because I’m not usually up at 1:30.  But it’s true that you can find me interacting at any hour. And the other participants, too.

Barbara:  What it said to me was that the class is totally worth taking. You’re right on top of everything and it’s so collaborative. We ask our questions, and then you guide us. Everything just works together and that’s really the best way to learn.

Everything is so learning oriented. I take it back with me to my clients, and I weave it into a session, try it out and talk about it with you later.

Ellyn:  Thank you. Let me ask you one last question.

How has the course made a difference in your work in the office with your own clients?

Barbara:  First of all, I have more confidence. When a couple comes in, I have a structure of diagnosing, and now I think in developmental terms.

What’s been so helpful are the different techniques that you offer us. And I’m really expanding what I’m seeing in front of me. I’m trying to look for the big pictures and the patterns and I try to reveal the patterns. It really is a new way that I look at couples and the way that I look at the therapeutic goals.

It has become interwoven in all that I do with the couples. I even use a lot of what we’ve been learning in sessions with parents and children. I do a lot of Initiator-Inquirer with them, and it kind of calms down that reactivity and allows my clients to listen, and they get really good at it.

Ellyn:  That’s fantastic. I’m really glad. I super-appreciate your doing this because your words will resonate with a lot of therapists. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way that you did. And I want to make sure they see how well the online format can work.

Barbara:  It certainly does work. It’s very interactive. It’s very personal. It’s the calls and the clinical cases that other therapists present. You go through them so meticulously. You point everything out. It’s just like being in a room with you.

Ellyn:  Well, thank you.

Barbara:  You’re welcome. I really enjoyed talking to you. You’ve made it so personal for me, and it’s been great.
Barbara Israels, MFT, has over 20 years experience working with families, couples, and adolescent and adult individuals. She now focuses on couples therapy and relationship issues for both women and men in her private practice in Modesto, CA.

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Vivian Baruch
Vivian Baruch

Hi Barbara & Ellyn, it was good to read your interview and to see how your original skepticism about online training shifted into a real appreciation of how this learning format can work. I too continue to feel extremely fortunate to have Ellyn’s extensive expertise & gentle yet constructive guidance about the developmental model constantly available to me in my home, practice & wherever I am.

As the time-zone differences between Australia & California prohibit my attending live calls, the recordings give me the freedom and flexibility to access the written & audio materials in my own time, whenever I want. The online learning format also allows me the luxury of going over the information as often as I need to ground my learning process.

Even though I’m also of the generation before the computer, I love that it provides the ability to have this personalised training & to connect to & interact with practitioners around the world. By engaging in the lively blogs which follow most calls & participating in a peer group, I believe my skill & confidence in working with couples has deepened & broadened since I first began Ellyn’s online training in March 2011. I attended Ellyn & Pete’s workshop in March 2009 & subsequently devoured all their material in book & CD format. Because Ellyn also offered this online programme, I jumped at the chance to be able to learn more about the developmental model via her personal guidance.

I’d highly recommend Ellyn’s course to any therapist who wishes to develop their skills, feel more grounded and become more effective in working with the complexities of couples issues.

Vivian Baruch, Sydney, Australia.

Maria Hernandez Cuevas
Maria Hernandez Cuevas

My experience with the program has been excellent. I have a very busy schedule and the program is always available to me when I am ready. I have acquired new skills and insight into couples therapy. I certainly notice the difference!!!

Sue Diamond Potts
Sue Diamond Potts

Dear Ellyn,

I loved hearing about Barbara’s experience and would like to add my thoughts about how this online training has enriched my practice. I had no previous training in couples therapy and mostly never saw couples. When I did, I really had no road map for how to understand their difficulties. Once I began to do the training with you, I was provided with a clear and concise approach for understanding why couples struggle so much and more importantly, how I can assist their movement towards growth. I had no qualms about doing this course online, in fact I felt so grateful that you were offering this format. It meant access to an expert without the ongoing expense of traveling from Canada to California, (which is what we all had to do before the internet!) I find the live case presentations so rich and rewarding and in the beginning, I felt like I was taking in all I could possibly digest. I remember thinking that I would never be able to comprehend the complexity of assessing a couple developmentally, but like anything that’s worth learning, slowly over time, it all began to come together. I organized a few binders with all the materials in it for easy reference, which really helped me. I have since made copies of all the exercises and hand outs for couples and have them ready to use whenever I need them. The amount of useful information that is provided in this course, both for myself and for the couples I work with, is unparalleled. I continue to learn and study this approach, because human beings are complex and relationships are even more convoluted, so there is always more to learn.

My work with couples is now the highlight of my practice. I have watched so many couples who are stuck in fighting or silent retreat learn to grow and stretch in order to have a more healthy sense of who they are and a better connection with their partner. The highlight came when I began treating a psychiatrist and his estranged daughter. Needless to say, I had wondered if I would be able to have an impact with him and whether he would be open to my active interventions and confrontations. I’m happy to report, that by using the skills I learned in this training, I not only was the leader in the room, but there was no hint of a power struggle at any time. In fact, he recently published a book and proudly signed a copy for me, thanking me “from the bottom of my heart” for all the help I had provided in reconnecting him with his daughter.

Thanks Ellyn for making your wisdom and many, many years of hard and dedicated work available to so many of us, who may not otherwise be exposed to it. I hope no one would be hesitant to learn in this format. Together we are creating a world-wide community of therapists who care deeply and wish to help others end their unnecessary suffering.

Sue Diamond Potts

Ümit Çetin
Ümit Çetin

I loved reading this interview and the comments here, for all of them also echoed my experience with this excellent training. Learning to look to the relationship problems through the developmental lens has provided me with a very practical tool in working with both couples and individuals.The information covered here is continual and up-to-date. On the blogs we can ask any questions related to the lessons and our cases, and we get immediate feedbacks and replies. I’m grateful to Ellyn; she generously shares her expertise, is full of wisdom and her teaching style is very effective. In fact, this training has become another university for me, and I am still learning and growing here in my own time. While the learning format is online, it is actually very personalized and interactive so that I feel really attached to the fellow collleagues and to you, Ellyn.
Sincere thanks,
Ümit Çetin

Mark Laing
Mark Laing

Hi Ellyn:
I certainly had some reservations too when I was looking at the Couple’s Institute. The technology part was not so daunting for me. I went to university later in life and took a fast, quick and deep plunge into how to use the computer. I am by nature cautious and I am being asked to give $100/month for a course that I really didn’t know much about. I vaguely remember reading something but felt it was typical internet marketing script which did not allay my fears. I guess I was afraid of being ripped off. Boy, was I wrong. I have so enjoyed this experience. I agree with Barbara…what you provide is more and better than what I was expecting. The level of credible expertise has been extremely impressive not only in what you and your husband provide but also through the guests presenters as well. Where in the world can you get an “international supervision?” That in and of itself is so valuable to me. How has it benefited me? I would say I feel more confident because not am I only learning about diagnosing a marriage but the tools to help couples break through the stalemates are excellent. I really look forward to my new lesson each time. I have been trying to get other therapists in my office to join but I think they’re even a harder sell than I was. It is so refreshing to work with someone so willing to share of themselves and in my opinion it seems very clear that you do this because you have passion about this. It is not that it costs me $100 per month…I am investing and being invested in, for ONLY $100 per month! I also was thrilled to be connected to the charity with Stu McLaren and his wife. Thank you so much. In line with your question and what I think might also be the motivation behind the question here are a few books that I have found very helpful:
1) Start With Why. Simon Sinek
2) Tribes. Seth Godin
3) The Dip. Seth Godin
Mark Laing

Nancy St John
Nancy St John

I agree with the previous comments and would like to share just a few of the reasons why becoming a member of the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy training program has been such a life-enriching experience for me.

The online training format is delivered in a fresh, exciting manner and fits in perfectly with my life, despite the fact that I live in Ireland which is a full 8 hours ahead of Pacific Time.

Dr Dr. Ellyn Bader and her husband Dr Dr. Peter Pearson are inspirational mentors – their energy and passion are infectious. They believe that excellence in couples therapy is an art form and continuously help members to identify and develop our own personal growth edges.

The skills I developed since joining in January 2010 have transformed the way I work with all types of couples and individuals. It has been such a joy for me to form friendships with therapists from across the globe and I’m looking forward to “meeting” new members in the future.

Kelly Scharver
Kelly Scharver

I want to chime in too, that I find the online format really works. In addition to working as a counselor, I have two daughters ages 2 and 10 months old. So finding time to travel much or even attend local in person workshops is a challenge. So I am tremendously grateful for this online opportunity to pursue my passion for couples counseling and to learn from Ellyn, Pete and the group members.

I have been in the training program for a year and a half, and am amazed at how much I have learned. When I first signed up, I hoped that I would learn effective couples counseling approaches and that has happened. In addition, I have been surprised to find a supportive community full of therapists that are passionate about helping couples and support me in the program. And I even though it is online, I have felt through out the program Ellyn is cheering me on to stretch myself to grow personally and professionally. I am grateful I found the program and pursued it.

Dr. Ellyn Bader

Dr. Ellyn Bader is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy. Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

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