The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy: Achieving Clinical Excellence with Difficult Couples

In this Advanced Training program, we will use your clinical cases to fine-tune your application of the Developmental Model. For each session, we have 1 or 2 cases from participants. Ellyn will teach principles and intervention strategies from the clinical material provided. Learning sessions are focused on how to build an effective treatment plan based on the stage of development of each partner and the couple. Several sessions also focus on individual problems such as addiction that impede development. Participants will learn how to choose treatment strategies that are most effective with different impasses. Participants can join for 90-minute Monthly Sessions each month and 90-minute Special Training Session every 2 months. Attendees can watch live or view the recording at any time.
Course Objectives:
After completing this course you will be able to:

1. Identify couples stuck in symbiosis and delineate developmental assists.

2. Describe the skills needed for partners to evolve beyond hostility and Interrupt Rapid Escalation of Hostility.

3. Define developmental trauma and demonstrate how it shows in couples therapy.

4. Explore 5 ways that developmental trauma impacts self-differentiation.

5. Distinguish between PTSD and developmental trauma.

6. Describe the disorganization needed for development to evolve in a dyadic system.

7. Delineate 6 aspects of partners developmental stalemate.

8. Demonstrate and use gestalt 2-chair work.

9. Describe the use of journaling to work with intergenerational trauma.

10. Discuss how to structure sessions when both partners are angry.

11. Describe how to recognize denied addiction.

12. Discuss ways to educate couples about the genetics of alcohol addiction.

13. Define 5 main types of trauma that affect couples relationships.

14. Describe 6 ways shame appears in clients in couples therapy.

15. Utilize the Initiator-Inquirer process to build self-capacities that improve clients emotional regulation.

16. Discuss how to recognize each partner’s self-protective coping mechanisms.

17. Utilize your assessment of life cycle stresses to normalize some of couples problems.

18. Describe different possible goals for separated couples.

19. Delineate what is involved in separating well and minimizing long-term negative impacts.

20. Identify common emotional and self-capacities that are missing in partners who complain about poor communication.

21. Identify intrapsychic conflicts and structure sessions to promote resolution of these conflicts.

22. Describe why problem-solving does not work with couples in the stage of early differentiation.

23. Delineate how to set goals with partners in the early differentiation stage that keep them working at their developmental edge.

24. Defining confrontation as it is used in therapy and list 9 reason why confrontation is necessary.

25. Demonstrate the sequence of effective confrontation.

26. Explain how to develop a gentle but impactful confrontation.

27. Identify the role of projection in maintaining symbiosis.

28. Identify how a chosen goal can retraumatize one or both partners.

29. Describe how to create homework assignments that push each partner’s development.

30. Demonstrate the use of self-soothing techniques.

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

The course costs $117.00 per month for 12 months.

Course fees cover 90-minute monthly clinical calls, 90-minute special training sessions, bonus calls, recording of past calls, presentation opportunities, access to the Level 1 training program materials, including all of the monthly clinical calls and materials, 15% discount on all Couples Institute products.
Participants can notify the admin assistant of the decision to withdraw at any time. They will have continued access to all materials until 30 days from their last payment, and their credit card will not be charged again.

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. This course is being offered for non-live distance learning CE credit. You do not have to attend live sessions- but must watch all recordings in order to earn credit. You will have to pass a post test with a score of 80% or higher and submit a course evaluation in order to earn your CE Certificate.

How to Get Your Completion Certificate

Praxis Continuing Education and Training 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 us at
  1. After enrolled in the class, you will receive an instructional page with a specific web link included to access your post course completion website. By following this link, you will arrive on the Join Event webpage.
  2. In the first field provided, enter the email address you used to register for the course.
    • If this is your first time logging into the event page, you will need to complete all required fields including your address.
    • Returning attendees only need to enter your email address. Type your email address and hit ENTER on your keyboard. This will direct returning attendees straight to your customer account page.
  3. The course you recently completed will be pre-populated into your account. Click on the “Certificate” button located below the title of the course.
  4. A pop-up menu will appear with the next steps. You will need to complete these steps from top to bottom (post-test, evaluation, affidavit).
  5. Click “Download your Certificate,” or have your certificate emailed to you. 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
Please also let us know if you would like to request accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

CE Information

This professional continuing education activity was sponsored by Praxis Continuing Education and Training and co-sponsored by the Couples Institute. Praxis Continuing Education and Training, who has been approved as a provider of continuing education by the organizations listed below, maintains responsibility for the educational activity offered and for following the standards and regulations for the organizations listed below. This non-live distance learning activity is approved for 27 CE hours. Please review complete CE and conflict-of-interest disclosure information prior to registering.


In that case, please contact your state licensing board to determine its acceptance of reciprocity with the organizations listed below. Not all state-level boards accept home study/independent study for continuing education nor do they all accept the national-level of accreditation listed below. In many cases, if your state is not specifically outlined below, you are covered for CE approval through reciprocity with another national board listed below. Please check with your state licensing board to confirm approval. Rules vary state by state. If your state does not accept any approvals outlined below, you may be able to self-submit the course to your board for approval. This distance learning homestudy course is approved for 27 hours of CE/CME credit.

Praxis CET maintains responsibility for the program with the CE approvals outlined below:

Joint Accreditation: In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc and the Couples Institute. Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

This activity was planned by and for the healthcare team, and learners will receive 27 Interprofessional Continuing Education (IPCE) credit for learning and change.


Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists are provided through the co-sponsorship of the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP). The APA CEP Office maintains responsibly for the content of the programs.

Social Workers:

As a Jointly Accredited Organization, Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Praxis Continuing Education and Training, Inc maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 27 clinical continuing education credits.

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.

CE course launch 2/15/2022
Expiration/review date 2/14/2025

Disclosure of Relevant Financial Relationships

Praxis Continuing Education and Training 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 ineligible companies.

We define ineligible companies as those whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients. There is no minimum financial threshold; individuals must disclose all financial relationships, regardless of the amount, with ineligible companies. We ask that discloses are made regardless of whether the individual views the financial relationships as relevant to the education. For more information on the Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education, please visit

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 ineligible companies.

There is no commercial support for this activity.
None of the planners or presenters for this educational activity have relevant financial relationship(s) to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.

Technical Requirements

Participants must have an email address and access to a computer with internet.


This course is intended for healthcare professionals with several years of experience in the practice of couples therapy. This is an intermediate-advanced level course.

Course Agenda:

Bonus calls and videos are not a required part of this CE activity. You are not required to attend the monthly clinical training session live. You may watch the recording at your convenience. Below is the outline of required course material for CE credit. You must attend 12 consecutive months to earn CE credit.

Time Frame Content (Topics)
January, Monthly Session 90 mins
Integration of Developmental Theory into Stage-Specific Interventions in Couples Therapy
February, Monthly Session 90 mins
Identifying Developmental Arrests that Impede Couples’/Partners Growth
February, Special Training Session 90 mins
Working with Developmental Trauma in Couples Therapy
March, Monthly Session, 90 minutes
Evolving couples past long-term conflict avoidance
April, Monthly Session 90 mins
Intrapsychic work in couples therapy. Clinical demonstration of gestalt 2-chair work
April, Special Training Session 90 mins
Healing Intergenerational Trauma in Couples Therapy
May, Monthly Session 90 mins
Disrupting Parent-Child Symbiosis and Building Intimate Connection
June, Monthly Session 90 mins
The role alcohol plays in the relationship of a couple
June, Special Training 90 mins Session
Trauma resolution in Couples Therapy and how Initiator - Inquirer can help (part 1)
July, Monthly Session 90 mins
Providing leadership and extra structure with angry couples
August, Monthly Session 90 mins
Working with couples who are separated
August, Special Training Session 90 mins
Trauma resolution in Couples Therapy and how Initiator - Inquirer can help (part 2)
September, Monthly Session 90 mins
Managing the most common presenting problem “We can’t communicate”.
Video demonstration: Describe why this presenting problem is not the problem
October, Monthly Session 90 mins
Early differentiation: What does the work involve
October, Special Training Session 90 mins
The Art of making gentle confrontations
November, Monthly Session 90 mins
Disrupting symbiosis
December, Monthly Session 90 mins
Couples Goals: When not to work with their chosen goal
December, Special Training Session 90 mins
Creating effective homework and linking it to in-session work

Here are the Zoom Details to Join the Call Live:

One tap mobile :

US: +16465588656, 82302466709# or +16469313860, 82302466709#

Telephone (US):

+1 301 715 8592
+1 312 626 6799
+1 346 248 7799
+1 646 558 8656
+1 669 900 6833
+1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 82302466709

International numbers available

We will send out an email reminder on the day of the call.
There will be a replay available within 24 hours.

Learn from a pioneer and leader in couples therapy training as she shares exactly what to say in difficult therapy sessions.
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