change

A Fresh Perspective on The Couples Conference

CouplesConferenceOne attraction of The Couples Conference is that in addition to presenting and learning, I am able to connect with colleagues and meet face-to-face for the first time with some of the members of my online training group. One of those therapists wrote an informative summary of the conference that’s also an inspiring message. I am pleased to share it here on our blog. I hope you enjoy this message from Nancy St John, a couples therapist from Ireland who is one of the training assistants in my online program.… Read more...

Are your expectations for the holidays too high?

Ah, Sisyphus, the legendary rock roller from Greek mythology. He was forever doomed to push the boulder up the mountain only to have it roll back. Again and again. Sisyphus may have been the original example of insanity. You’ve probably heard that definition: insanity is doing the same darn thing over and over again, expecting a different result. But you are different. Because you are going to stop pushing your rock this holiday season. Here’s another rock so many people push. It’s the rock of unrealistic expectations. Especially the expectations we place on others. We hope our partner will finally give us the perfect gift, our adult siblings will refrain from teasing us at the dinner table, Uncle Al will stay sober through the evening, and that Mom and Dad will give us some unconditional acceptance.… Read more...

Make the best of family conversations over the holiday

Holidays are filled with all kinds of repeating stresses. Many people dread spending time with family over a holiday. Relatives are thrown together whether they like it or not, often for repeated stories, complaints and arguments. Are you ready to tackle Aunt Martha’s searing comments about your weight? First, recall Sisyphus from Greek mythology. He was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, getting close to the top only to see it roll down again. Maybe that’s how you currently approach those holiday conversations, for example, when Aunt Martha says, “So sweetie, I understand Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers have new programs especially designed for those holiday temptations.” If you choose to follow in the steps of Sisyphus, you will try to change how Aunt Martha thinks about your size.… Read more...

Predict the Change Process for Your Toughest Couples

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Every time a couple tackles a thorny problem requiring change, they go through a predictable sequence of steps to make that change. And the sequence of change process is not linear. Leadership means seeing the journey from denial to commitment and actively challenging either partner when they regress. Watch the video to see Pete and Ellyn go through the stages of change as they conquer the problem of clutter in their home. Please share your comments or reactions.… Read more...

A Disarming Confrontation in Couples Therapy

Choice Traffic SignA very distressed, acrimonious couple comes to see you for couples therapy. They’ve done significant damage to each other over the years. It seems they will fight about anything and you feel like you are getting nowhere. All your best efforts are thwarted. You say to them, “I’m sorry to give you some bad news. You are faced with two ugly choices. This is probably not what you want to hear. Yet, it is your current reality.”… Read more...

It’s not about the nail

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Maybe you’re not exactly hitting the nail on the head when you try to communicate. Usually it's not about the nail. We love how this video illustrates that point…… Read more...

Hypocrisy, Immorality, Shame and Change

cofronting hypocrisy“It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” ― Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit Today I’d like to share a fascinating piece on hypocrisy from the University of Colorado’s Conflict Research Consortium.… Read more...

Felony Lies

Nov 2012 infidelity255At the end of last month’s post, I asked you to think about a couple’s unfolding history and share how you would structure treatment after disclosure of an affair and a history of lies and deceit. What might you say to them at the end of the first session? And what would be some considerations for you in structuring the next session?  … Read more...

Gifts that Give!

With the holiday season around the corner, the necessity of gift-giving is on most of our minds. Many of us feel pressured to provide and ‘prove’ our love for others in a strictly material way.  But, gift-giving is much more than just spending.  If done thoughtfully, it can provide a wonderful emotional, social & spiritual effect on you and your loved ones.… Read more...

My Visit to a Counseling Center in Africa

A year ago I wrote a newsletter as I was winging home from Africa – and here I am again. So many reflections, so many experiences, sights, sounds, emotions.  Where do I begin? And do I share what meant most to me or what might be most relevant to you and your work? I'd like to tell you about Amani Counseling Center in Africa. This year I went with Michelle Wangler (whom many of you know) and Rita Maynard, a very talented therapist from Portland, Oregon, who trained with us for many years. If you don’t know Michelle, she works at The Couples Institute as both a couples therapist and an assistant in my online training program.… Read more...
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