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What To Do When You Screw Up With Your Partner

oops-road-sign-225 You messed up.  You really blew it.  Your partner is giving you heck about it, seething with disappointment and hurt.  Guilt washes over you, as your conscious mind reminds you that you didn’t keep your word or your end of a commitment.  Or you might have a more flippant attitude, “What’s the big deal anyway? Get over it!”… Read more...

My Marriage Is Like a Bunch of Rhinos

White rhinocerosEllyn and I have a special interest in Africa. We’ve been fortunate to travel there a few times, building classrooms in refugee camps and sometimes even going on safaris. On our last African safari I discovered the correlation between rhinos and my marriage.… Read more...

11 Ways to Give the Gift of Intimacy

purple present box isolated on white Intimacy will last longer than most of the items typically exchanged as gifts this season – certainly longer than the latest trends in fashion or a digital device that will be obsolete in six months. Here are 11 ways to give or increase intimacy over the holiday season:… 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...

Regression and its Impact in Couples Therapy

This month let's look at regression in couples therapy. The old adage says “where the attention goes, the energy flows.” Regressed partners in couples therapy often demand that either you or their partner focus on them. At times, attending to and even promoting regression can facilitate change. However, often it is counterproductive and reinforces patterns that keep the couple stuck. In this newsletter, we will briefly explore what is regression, three issues that tend to intensify regression, and how a therapist may inadvertently contribute to increasing the regression. What Is Regression?… 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...

New Ways to Create Collaboration for Severely Distressed Couples

October is here. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all quickly tumble into the family, creating stress for couples. School has been underway long enough for kids’ schedules, the demands of various activities, and homework challenges to create additional stress. Couples start fighting much more than they did in the summer months. Their lack of ability to collaborate effectively becomes apparent. Perhaps they call a therapist or perhaps they wait even longer. Too frequently they wait until their problems have become chronic. John Gottman says, “People wait an average of 6 years to get any couples counseling after distress” (Notarius).… Read more...

Listen and Concentrate

  It is impossible for me to even estimate the number of times I hear couples in my office say their partner doesn't listen or understand. Often both people will say it. As my practice is in Silicon Valley, home of some of the brightest people on the planet, one would think understanding would come easier. Maybe it has to do with the ability to listen and concentrate. So I'll give you a test to check your powers of concentration. This simple little test comprising of four questions will determine your thinking ability. Your replies must be spontaneous and immediate, with no deliberating or wasting time.… Read more...

Actions of True Intimacy: a Different Gift for Valentine’s Day

Are you willing to go beyond flowers, dinner and chocolate for Valentine's day? Here's a different gift. The gift of intimacy. It will last longer than a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers. The poet Rilke once advised a friend that a good marriage does not create “a quick community of spirit by tearing down and destroying all boundaries,” but rather appoints the other “guardian of his solitude.” Rilke's comments, applicable to all committed partnerships, point to the mutual respect and clarity that form the basis for genuine intimacy. Here are 10 ways to deepen your intimacy.… 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.