Ellyn Bader


cofronting hypocrisyEarlier this summer I started a blog series about hypocrisy in couples therapy. I was pleased to see so many of you respond on the blog sharing your own examples of these vexing moments and hypocritical binds in your practice.

I promised some follow-up. So here it is, including a video I prepared on the subject.

Many of the partners we see in couples work have early developmental issues that move them to create binds for each other. Four common developmental issues are:


  1. Basic trust. When basic trust is missing, partners fear they are not loveable. They become afraid when their lovers are absent or withdrawn and often create binds that demand their lovers prove them unconditionally loveable.
  2. Problems with self-other differentiation. These partners desire highly merged relationships and angrily or more subtly create binds to coerce their partners to comply.
  3. Limited ability to self-soothe. These partners often demand “mind reading,” stay agitated and make unflattering decisions about the other.
  4. Difficulty with self-activation. All partners who create hypocritical binds have difficulty in this area. The bind in fact includes a rationalization for them not to take action.

These developmental issues also contribute to partners having difficulty knowing what they desire, activating positive energy to pursue desires, and raging at partners who seem to “get more of their desires realized.” What’s even worse is that these developmental issues fuel the creation of binds, hypocrisies and paradoxes that inhibit the long-term growth and development of the relationship.

The tragedy, of course, is that both partners lose out on the promise that brought them together.

To get us into this topic more deeply, I’ve prepared a short video reviewing the information from the original blog post and discussing 4 common types of hypocrisy, with examples of each. Go to Hypocrisy Video  to see the video and then add your thoughts on the blog.

During the next month I will follow up with some short emails continuing this discussion.

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
― Warren W. Wiersbe


Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., 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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A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.

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