Why couples therapy isn’t just for when things are going wrong

Most people tend to associate couples therapy with intractable problems that they and their partner are struggling with. Couples usually wait until their situation has reached the breaking point before seeking couples therapy, often putting themselves through months or years of unnecessary disappointment, distress and destructive behavior. As an experienced couples psychotherapist, I can say with confidence that much of the distress, heartbreak and breakdown in couples’ relationships could have been avoided with early intervention. Your couple relationship can harbor rich rewards for your mental and physical health, and significantly contribute to achievements and life satisfaction in both your personal and professional life.… Read more... “Why couples therapy isn’t just for when things are going wrong”

Deep Listening on a Japanese Subway

An account by the first American Aikido Master trained in Japan, Terry Dobson The train clanked and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty – a few housewives with their kids in tow, some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows. At one station the doors opened, and suddenly the afternoon quiet was shattered by a man bellowing violent, incomprehensible curses. The man staggered into our car. He wore laborer's clothing, and he was big, drunk and dirty. Screaming, he swung at a woman holding a baby.… Read more... “Deep Listening on a Japanese Subway”

3 Weddings and 4 Questions

wedding_cakeThere are only three weddings happening this year at The Couples Institute. And we are being facetious – we haven’t had a wedding of an associate or staffer happen in quite a while! First, our bookkeeper, Daniel, married his long time partner Hunt in May. They’d been together for 26 years so their ceremony was a celebratory re-commitment of their enduring partnership. This past weekend, our marketing guru, Shelley, tied the knot with a man she’s known since college; mutual friends brought them back together a few years ago. They’ve been inseparable since, wondering why it didn’t happen sooner. Then later in November, therapist and clinical assistant in our training program, Michelle, whom many of you have been in touch with before, weds the love of her life, Dan.… Read more... “3 Weddings and 4 Questions”

Do Your Couples Get High From Cheating?

  eastern european or latin 225I heard an interesting interview a few weeks ago as I was driving to work. Michael Smerconish was interviewing Celia Moore from the London Business School about research on cheating.… Read more... “Do Your Couples Get High From Cheating?”

Practical Perspective for Fighting Couples

Oprah 225Recently we were fortunate to be published in The Oprah Magazine. It’s a publication that always puts things in a practical perspective. We were asked to offer a few insights into the frustrating and perplexing arena of fighting couples. You’ll find us in the November issue of The Oprah Magazine, on page 121.… Read more... “Practical Perspective for Fighting Couples”

It’s not about the nail

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... “It’s not about the nail”

Lies to the Self, Lies to the Partner and Lies to the Therapist

Intimacy conf faculty225When working with a couple in the aftermath of infidelity, how do you approach lies and a history of deception? When is a lie “just a little white lie” and when is it much more serious? Is it a common pattern of deception, does it represent a developmental issue, or is it a character issue?  How likely is it that a partner will continue lying to you? Does that change what you do and, if so, how?… Read more... “Lies to the Self, Lies to the Partner and Lies to the Therapist”

Couples Resources

This page, organized by the type of program, summarizes the various couples resources that are offered by The Couples Institute. These are in addition to couples therapy, which is described here. Couples Workshops Sign up to join Michelle Wangler Joy, M.A., MFT, for the next Couples Communication Workshop to learn skills to overcome stubborn relationship challenges. Invite one of our therapists to speak to your couples, parents, or family-focused community group by contacting our office here. E-Book Initiating Calm Discussions In this e-book by Ellyn Bader, Ph.D. and Peter Pearson, Ph.D., you will discover three different perspectives for every discussion.… Read more... “Couples Resources”

Couples Therapy Tools: The Paper Exercise

When I am doing training, I get many requests to learn more about the Paper Exercise. I thought you might like having more information about it. The Paper Exercise is an exercise that Pete and I adapted from Susan Campbell’s book, The Couples Journey. The exercise sounds a bit contrived, but it is so revealing of couples’ dynamics that it is worthwhile learning to use it. It can be used either diagnostically or as an intervention into the couples’ system. Setting up the exercise You will need a piece of plain white 8 ½ x 11 paper. Hold it in your hand, look into the eyes of one partner, and say, “This piece of paper represents something important to you.… Read more... “Couples Therapy Tools: The Paper Exercise”

What’s That You Said? The Fears That Prevent Us From Speaking Up

How much do you value being seen and heard? Do you really want a truly successful relationship? How important is it to have impact on others? Let's look at speaking up! Of course, for some people, that's easier said than done. You might prefer to sky dive without a parachute than tell another person what's really on your mind. But it is possible to develop an assertiveness connected to head and heart that clears the way for honest, empowered living-without being rude to others. Those who stay mum when they would be better off speaking their mind do so for a variety of reasons: Fear of being rejected. Any time you risk disclosing what you want and why it is important, you become vulnerable.… Read more... “What’s That You Said? The Fears That Prevent Us From Speaking Up”