conflict

Understanding the Dangers of Conflict Avoidance

  You’ve seen the pattern before. A couple comes to you, seeking help with tension that they just can’t understand or resolve. As you’re working to build openness and trust with them, you begin to notice that one or both partners react strongly when there’s the slightest hint of difference or disagreement.  What happens next may vary widely. Perhaps one partner withdraws from the conversation, almost seeming to disappear from the room, while the other rattles on. Or both fall silent, shooting glances at you as if to ask, “Where do we go from here?”  This is a well-worn path, and every couples therapist must develop a set of sound strategies for helping partners who withdraw or disengage when intensity or conflict arise.… Read more...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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.