Conference Highlights

Interesting Ideas from Recent Conferences

In years past, I have shared valuable ideas I’ve heard while attending major conferences, either as a speaker or guest. With so many virtual meetings taking place over the past several months, I’ve had the chance to gather many useful thoughts from a wide range of presenters. I hope these short summaries capture your interest and even stimulate your thinking as they did for me. From attorney and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy Stevenson’s talk to therapists was designed to stimulate action. He stressed how in the United States, we continue to accept the unacceptable. We must push back against the narratives of fear and anger that surround race relations in the U.S.… Read more...

The Couples Conference 2019

This year’s Couples Conference explored 5 major models of couples therapy. These included PACT, Gottman, EFT, Relational Life and the Developmental Model. I had the honor of opening the conference, and I would like to share with you the poem I wrote to highlight five different approaches to couples therapy that have advanced our field. I was inspired by the poem, “The Blind Man and The Elephant,” by John Godfrey Saxe, which begins like this:   It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.… Read more...

Quotable Moments From Recent Conferences

This spring I presented keynotes and workshops at The Couples Conference in Oakland and at a UCLA conference called Relationships and the Health-Promoting Power of Connection Across the Lifespan. Both events featured faculty that trained, enlightened and entertained participants. I’m still reviewing in my mind some of the great things I heard there. And I thought I’d share a few quotable moments. It’s impossible to paint a complete picture using just snippets, but I think you’ll agree that these are some memorable ideas and turns of phrase. I hope you enjoy them – and remember them when they might be helpful!… Read more...

Couples Conference 2017 A – Z: Dan Amen to Jeff Zeig

Each year I enjoy sharing a few key points from the presentations I was able to attend at The Couples Conference. This year the conference focused on challenging issues therapists face, with special focus on addictions, affairs and sexual boundaries. With daily keynotes and multiple workshops running simultaneously, it’s impossible to attend everything. And as a presenter and co-sponsor, I was even busier than the average participant. So I can’t report on the entire conference or even on entire workshops. If you were there, please feel free to add points of interest in the commenting section at the end of this post.… Read more...

Ellyn Bader and Other Experts on Differentiation at Couples Conference

Ellyn Bader presenting at Couples Conference 2016Day 2 was on Differentiation at Couples Conference 2016. In a panel discussion early in the day, I set the stage for understanding differentiation by explaining that in thriving relationships, partners are able to… Express their own thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires while being curious about their partner’s  thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires.… Read more...

Helen Fisher, Dan Siegel & Stan Tatkin on Neuroscience at Couples Conference

Conference audience applaudingOne of my most satisfying professional accomplishments is the 21-year collaboration with the Milton Erickson Foundation co-sponsoring the Couples Conference. Each year we bring together an inspiring faculty with a large group of couples therapists from around the world. Our mission is to push the field and provide training and updates on what’s new.… Read more...

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...

Update on Couples Conference 2015

self-absorbed_man_225This year’s Couples Conference has come and gone. Happily, it turned out to be another dynamic meeting filled with therapists from many countries as well as those from the United States. This year I conducted a workshop on self-absorbed partners with Sue Diamond-Potts. Sue is my assistant in the online training program and she also specializes in addiction work. We explored the problems created in marriage or committed partnerships by self-absorbed partners.… Read more...

Your Yearly Update from the Wisdom 2.0 Conference

monks_mondalaEach year I enjoy a special weekend attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference with Pete, our daughter, Molly, and some other special friends. A second pleasure of the Conference is reviewing my notes and sending some insights to you.… Read more...

Resolving Trauma: Some Things Can’t Be Done Alone

KagameYou might know that Pete and I have been building schools in Kenya for four years. We work in communities of refugees who were traumatized and displaced by political and tribal violence, and we have a special connection with the wonderful people struggling for survival in this part of Africa. In fact, we are now counting the days until we return to build another school in a new refugee community called Lemolo. So it was especially inspiring for me to hear the current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, speak live at Wisdom 2.0.… 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.