Become a Highly Confident Therapist, Even with Conflict Avoidant or Hostile Couples,
in Record Time!

I’m going to give you the exact intervention Dr. Peter Pearson and I developed not only for identifying where clients are stuck, but also showing you what to do about it. This process teaches couples to communicate in a different way and interrupts the instinctive need to problem solve – even though that gets them nowhere.

Enter The Change Lab Now!

“By far, the most common thing I hear after a couple has used the I-I is that they are able to actually stop to listen to one another and take the time to ask more about what they are experiencing, learning more about themselves and each other in the course of the process.”
-Lauren Ostrowski,
“Even though I have been using the I-I for some time now I just learned much more. One of the things I love about it is the way we can really go deep with our clients and get them out of their reactivity. This call emphasized to me how important it is to see the process of HOW someone initiates and help them in that place. So many gems!”
– Janae Munday,
LCSW, Arizona
“It continues to emphasize for me how easily the therapist might be pulled into a couple’s dynamic without realizing it. Having examples of sessions and how this can occur makes it extremely practical. Terrific session. ”
– Linda Clarkson,
MS, LPC, Georgia

Growing up, most of us didn’t learn how to collaborate with an equal. We were in situations with parents, teachers, coaches – all hierarchical relationships. We learned to fall in line and quiet the parts of ourselves that created conflict, or we learned that yelling and being combative were the ways to be heard.

Couples take these patterns into their relationships and then feel incredibly uncomfortable when their partner wants something different than they do. They dance around issues, fighting or ignoring them until the tension is so unbearable they come to you and expect you to wave a magic wand and fix it.

In our decades of observing, experimenting, practicing, and refining, we discovered a counterintuitive way to structure sessions that prevented many pitfalls where even the best therapists were getting stuck.

Ellyn’s Shocking Realization About Couples Therapy

After helping couples “problem solve,” Ellyn realized that even if you ”fix the problem” you’re still not solving it!

What matters more than anything is how couples talk about the problem. How they deal with it together, how they listen to one another, and how they reveal themselves. THAT is what matters the most. It’s what will make or break most relationships.

Once Ellyn shifted her work to helping couples develop internal emotional muscle, everything changed.

So Pete and Ellyn mapped out every step of this process, practiced it with hundreds of couples in workshops, and then made it possible for other therapists to repeat this system. And that’s how The Initiator-Inquirer was born.

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Take Problem Solving Off the Table

Surprisingly, when Ellyn started saying to couples, “we’re going to take solving problems off the table,” they felt relieved.

So if we’re not solving their problems, what are we doing?

We are building emotional capacity that supports them functioning as a team.

You might say to a couple, “You’ve had no practice being a team – until today. I’m going to get you thinking differently about how to talk about issues. You’ll learn to accept conflicting parts of yourself and your partner. You’ll learn how to sit in the tension while you discuss charged topics without rushing to premature decisions. You’ll develop the skills to collaborate. You’ll learn to talk more deeply and have more productive conversations. And ultimately, you’ll learn more about yourself and your partner. Are you on board?”

The bonus of this approach – problem solving often naturally happens after both partners feel understood and can discuss options. Working from this framework, called the Initiator-Inquirer, means clients feel like they’re getting the change they came for.

“It’s taken me sooooo long to finally try it with couples, but this truly transformed everything in my practice. It took me a while to be able to get myself out of the middle, but I can’t imagine ever going back to that way of working. I love how Ellyn says if you are a therapist who loves to be front and center, you won’t like this which is so true. I am so thankful that I made the shift and my clients are too!”

- Barbi Pecenco, LMFT, Newport Beach, CA

“This is absolutely brilliant! I used your process with two couples online last week and it worked like a charm!”

- Marian Meade, RN Psychotherapist, Canada

“WOW! I’ve just finished an AMAZING session with a couple who are big on blame and defense. I used the handout and got their buy-in. They worked on a parenting issue and reached a beautiful moment where the inquirer filled with tears as the Initiator described his feeling of loneliness, in seeing her tears he also teared up, and they held eye-contact as I coached them not to rush away from this moment. I was so delighted when she said afterward, ‘that was really hard but I really like this process.’”

- Fiona Daly, Psychotherapist, Wicklow, Ireland

Why The “No Change” Discussion Actually Leads to the Most Change

If you’ve found yourself on the Not-So-Merry-Go-Round of slipping away from the core issues, getting dominated by clients, unsuccessfully imploring clients to come forward, your best bet is to go waaaaay back.

Think kindergarten.

The Initiator-Inquirer process shows you how to remind clients of one very crucial skill they learned in kindergarten: taking turns.

It may sound simple, but it’s profound. When clients really learn how to take turns listening (inquiring) and talking (initiating), it helps them understand one another.
Equally important – it helps you understand exactly where they’re stuck and how to better help them.

If you take “negotiation” off the table and focus on helping clients understand one another, their ability to solve problems skyrockets – with or without you. And don’t we all want clients practicing their new skills outside of sessions?

That’s what’s so powerful and profound about this process. It helps any couple, no matter their presenting problem, eventually learn to resolve their own issues without drama, fighting, or withholding. It also supports both partners working at the same time, you’re no longer in the middle, and time is used much more effectively.

Sounds like a bold promise, but I’ve seen it happen again and again, as have thousands of therapists I’ve trained around the world.

“This training changed the outcome of one of my sessions today. This couple has a pattern of one getting so dysregulated that it derails the other from being able to share or be heard. I heard Ellyn in my head saying, the more dysregulated people get the more structure they need. I pulled out the worksheet to guide the Initiator with more structure. They both seemed to learn more about themselves and move to a next step in their relationship!”
– Shari Keller,
LMHC, Granger, IN
“You gave me a container and provided a structure that was safe to explore what was going on. I felt safe having you rein me in; I didn’t feel offended at all, I felt supported. I really like that you’re not going to expect us to go straight to empathy.”

– A client reflecting

on an I-I experience
“Because of this call I was able to use I-I this afternoon. I found I was much more active in getting the process back on track when each started to derail it. Surprise, surprise – it went much better! The initiator who is usually quite critical and aggressive was totally surprised to learn how much fear was fueling her attacks. The inquirer was equally surprised to learn that and it led to a lovely softening.”
– Sally Shamai,
M.Ed, RCC, B.C.

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Using The I-I with Conflict Avoidant Couples

Conflict avoidant couples have a long history of avoiding truth telling and truth listening. No one ever taught them that conflict is normal and human – and could propel them forward.

When you use the I-I to encourage a client to bring something up, you’re stopping their passivity and inspiring both partners to be engaged. This process doesn’t let one partner tune out and ignore the other. It puts healthy pressure on the couple to show up – and that risk taking has the capacity to raise the bar to where growth happens in a conflict avoidant system.

Using The I-I with
Hostile Couples

If you have highly reactive couples, your best shot at being successful out of the gate is to spend a dedicated session setting them up for this process. While it might feel too boring or too structured, one session is a small price to pay for many future sessions of connection, growth, and success.

These are the couples who need the most structure. A great feature of this process is that it gives you more permission to interject, butt in, and change direction quickly.

And once they start to internalize the skills, your sessions go much better and the couple feels like your sessions are deeply meaningful.

I want to help YOU become a highly skilled couples therapist… so you can confidently lead your sessions, get out of the middle, get traction with your toughest clients... and enjoy the work you do for clients who truly appreciate your skills.

Even though my Developmental Model of Couples Therapy program is now closed to new members, I still wanted to give a tool you can use immediately.

My desire to help therapists has never gone away. In fact, it has only gotten stronger in the face of the changes to our profession.

While CE courses and educational institutes are shouting from the rooftops that excellence can be developed in short bursts…

and new online mental health organizations are promising successful couples therapy in 45 minutes…

You probably know in your heart that couples’ issues are far more complex than that and your 45 minutes would be better spent on lunch or a walk!

But I also know you lead a busy life.

That’s why I took the absolute best of 20+ hours of Initiator-Inquirer training and condensed it into a targeted collection of videos and role plays.



“I love the pace of this process and really appreciate the variety of interventions to help partners soothe / ground to stay connected to the process. This role play has given me some really solid ideas as well as some helpful language to use in specific situations. I’ve recently been working with a couple whom I struggle to do I-I with and after watching this video I feel more equipped to try again. This one will be saved as a bookmark to return to!”

- Dominique Smajstr, Psychotherapist & Couples Therapist, NSW, Australia

“I learned it is ok to really slow it down over a number of sessions. I really liked, “the slower we go, the faster they heal!” I’m going to write that down on a sticky note for my sessions as a reminder!!”
– Lyndel Maroske,
Psychologist, Queensland, Australia
“I had a lot more success with the I-I tonight than I had anticipated I would have. Hooray! ”
– Kieran Grosman,
PsyD, Brooklyn, NY

Enter The Change Lab Now!


Look Over My Shoulder During an I-I

This process works with money issues, affairs, parenting issues, explosive fighting couples, extreme passivity, and even clients with narcissistic tendencies.

That’s why I’ve included several roleplays that show you exactly how this process unfolds with some of the toughest kinds of problems.

Learn all about the Initiator-Inquirer, including…


Module 1: Overview of the Initiator-Inquirer Process

Module 2: Structuring Effective Initiation and Inquiring

Module 3: How to Introduce and Set Up the Initiator-Inquirer

Module 4: Initiator Inquirer Role Play

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How Does The Change Lab Work?

The entire Initiator-Inquirer process is laid out in a comfortable course you can watch immediately.

You can view the videos and download the handouts to get started right away.

There’s no homework, no waiting for lessons to be released. Just instant access to everything you need to know about the Initiator Inquirer.

By the end, you’ll be able to help clients learn more about one another, find soothing moments of empathy, and create communication breakthroughs that help clients understand one another.

“I’ve watched this twice and I found it extremely helpful, clarifying. And, I took notes! Tried it with a couple tonight and they were super responsive and ready to give it a try. This was a very helpful way for me to proceed, as I’ve had difficulty with homework in the past.”

- Marisa Koten, Ph.D., NY

“Really lovely deconstruction and slowing down of the process of moving away from reactivity in one partner to enabling the other to voice their experience in a way that creates space. Much clearer to see what differentiation means in relation to not taking the blame for the other but being able to tolerate and manage difference. Learned a lot from the role play and also the idea of self soothing to be able to recalibrate and listen differently moment by moment. Useful to understand and apply the continuums in practice so a very useful “technical” teaching video.”

- Kate Creedy, Family & Systemic Psychotherapist, UK

What’s The Investment?

The Change Lab is a STEAL of a deal.
And if you were to buy each of these materials individually, (which you can’t) it would cost $699.

And if you were to join my Developmental Model program where all this material (and more!) lives, it would cost  $1,997.

If you were to hire me for a consultation… well, I don’t consult anymore to almost anyone.

But… I realized not everyone could afford that, especially these days.

I wanted to make this super affordable, so any therapist who wanted to learn this proven intervention could get access to it at a reasonable price.


I’m not going to charge $1,997.

And my team told me the material is so effective and comprehensive we should sell it for at least $795.

Think about it this way…

How many clients would you need for this to pay for itself?

Probably not many.

I bet if you made progress with your next couple, they’d be convinced that therapy with you is worth the investment and they’d stick around. They might even refer their friends to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

We guarantee that if you put the Initiator-Inquirer to use, you’ll get some actionable a-ha! moments. We also guarantee that this breakthrough intervention creates memorable moments for your clients and the principles you learn can be used with almost every type of couple. The Change Lab is SUCH a steal of a deal that there are no refunds. But if you know our work and our products, you know our standards are high and our training resources are unparalleled.
While the Developmental Model program is fiercely robust, we wanted to give you an easy and concise way to learn our most popular intervention process. demonstrations, handouts and teaching material and condensed it into everything you need to know about getting started with the I-I. It’s an incredibly effective course presented in 2 hours of teaching videos, 4+ client demonstrations, and a collection of 10 handouts to use immediately.
We know that happens sometimes. That’s why we’ll show you how to turn an “unsuccessful” I-I into a successful experience. The beauty of the I-I is that even when it breaks down, you can use that information as a diagnostic to inform your next steps. We’ll also lay out the groundwork that’s needed before you introduce it. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll minimize the chances your I-I sessions will go off the rails.
There are a few developmental skills couples need before a successful I-I can take place. The good news is that if you set the I-I as a goal, you have a roadmap of what to do in your next few sessions. We share those exact skills couples need so you can employ the I-I at the right time and never feel overwhelmed.
Unfortunately there is no CE for this training. The cost of administering CE with the various professional boards prevents us from offer CE for this training at the current low price.

Enter The Change Lab Now!

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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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