Getting Off to a Powerful Start

Getting Started: Disrupting the Cycle of Externalization and Blame

Many of the couples who come to see us are stuck organizing their complaints around an external symptom or problem. It’s easier for them and preserves individual self-esteem when partners deflect the focus away from themselves and place blame on the other partner for problems in their relationship. Surely you’ve heard examples such as “He drinks too much. She always puts her work before me. His clutter drives me crazy.” And when externalizing has become entrenched, it can be a challenge for you to shed light on each partner’s role and move them toward increased differentiation. So how do you disrupt this gridlock and help each partner create more of an internal locus of control?… Read more...

Losing Momentum: With Passive-Aggressive Partners and their Spouses

Momentum-imageMany therapists dread working with couples where one partner is extremely passive or passive-aggressive. Passive-aggressive partners create a lot of confusion. Commitments are regularly broken, and criticism and passivity dominate the couple’s interactions. Their spouse is usually enormously frustrated and angry. Any attempts by the couple to change the pattern fail, and increasingly the interpersonal dynamics between these partners zap the life right out of the relationship – until the life force is gone. In fact, once a couple has interacted like this for years, they aren’t very likely to unravel the pattern themselves.… Read more...

Losing Momentum: Do You Start Strong and Then See the Energy Fizzle?

Momentum-imageIt’s pretty common to start couples therapy strong. You use your empathy skills and make a good connection with each partner. Each one has a chance to describe the problem and each feels understood. And with basic skills, you begin to shift troubled interactions to more collaboration and better communication. Then it happens. Progress stalls. Sessions start feeling repetitive. Your insights and feedback have limited value.… Read more...

Losing Control: It Happens Sooner Than You Think

control-imageLosing control of a given couples therapy session happens sooner and faster than you think. How soon? Often it is in the first few minutes of a session.… Read more...

More on Spinning in Circles with Entrenched Couples

Colorful concentric circlesA reader of my blog on Spinning in Circles with Entrenched Couples described a situation that’s a catch-22 of couples therapy: a partner who doesn’t want to do what is required of him but still wants a better relationship with his wife. Here are my thoughts on the subject.… Read more...

Predict the Change Process for Your Toughest Couples

Every time a couple tackles a thorny problem requiring change, they go through a predictable sequence of steps to make that change. And the sequence of change process is not linear. Leadership means seeing the journey from denial to commitment and actively challenging either partner when they regress. Watch the video to see Pete and Ellyn go through the stages of change as they conquer the problem of clutter in their home. Please share your comments or reactions.… Read more...

Overcoming Passivity and Passive-Aggressive Behavior

…in the Early Stages of Therapy Couples therapy has numerous challenges in the early sessions depending on the type of presenting problem. Our next few newsletters will focus on some unique challenges and what to do about them, beginning with passive behavior and passive-aggressive behavior. A common pattern of highly distressed relationships is each partner wants the other to change first. The complaining partner wants massive personality changes. The “request” is more or less stated as a demand or accusation, with no awareness of how much is being requested. When this happens, the pressure is on either you or the partner to do something to relieve the distress of the complainer.… Read more...

Feeling Better vs Getting Better

  Let's think about feeling better vs getting  better. Do you focus on helping your clients feel better or get better? A huge problem with highly distressed partners is that we can’t give them what they want right away. What distressed partners really want when they come to therapy is to feel better. They understandably want immediate relief from pain. Relief comes from the partner making characterological changes – easily and effortlessly. Relief comes from the partner complying with demands and expectations – the sooner the better. Sadly, the more “thin-skinned” or sensitive to criticism a partner is, the more desperate they will be to involve the therapist in changing the partner.… Read more...

how to make your ex boyfriend want you again

a way to win your ex back how to get your ex girlfriend to come back or how can you make your girlfriend to get back with you how to write a letter to win your boyfriend back, etc.… Read more...

How To Get The Most From Couples Therapy

  This document is designed to help you get the most benefit from our work together. The first three sections deal with how to prepare for and maximize the value of our sessions. The fourth section summarizes some brief concepts about relationships and productive couples therapy. Your job is to create your own individual objectives for being in therapy. Like a good coach, my job is to help you reach them. I have many, many tools to help you become a more effective partner – they work best when you are clear about how you aspire to be. My goal is to help you each make better adjustments and responses to each other without violating your core values or deeply held principles.… 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.