To Think or Not to Think

Here are two very different couples therapy resources for you to consider… Long ago I immersed myself in studying object relations theory. Winnicott was one of the many authors I read. Claire Rabin’s book Winnicott and ‘Good Enough’ Couple Therapy brought me back to some of my early roots. However, what I liked even more than reviewing these roots is that Claire Rabin made me think. A teacher that forces us to think is a rare gift. Even more rare is a teacher that offers a critique of principles that she espoused earlier. Someone who can even question what she is teaching. Such a teacher you will find in this splendid book, Winnicott and ‘Good Enough’ Couple Therapy by Claire Rabin. She loves Winnicott yet she is not blinded by her fealty to him. She is able to see his gifts to our professional community and also speak of his limitations. She walks us through the painful terrain of hate and aggression, two emotions that are often as uncomfortable for the therapist as for the couple. Rabin’s chapter on hate and aggression does not give you five tips on how to deal with these powerful emotions. You get something far better. Rabin walks you through her process and the couples’ process of rejuvenating a dead marriage. She talks about the limitations of taming aggression and reflects on how to think about hate and aggression within yourself as well as your clients. Get this marvelous brief book, and the value of a good education becomes eminently clear. It makes you think. I am also recommending a second resource that does just the opposite. It does the thinking for you. It seems to be human nature to want quick solutions and easy answers for complex problems. Kathleen Mates-Youngman’s Couples Therapy Workbook gives you a treasure trove of homework assignments for your couples. It provides you with 30-guided conversations on 30 different challenging topics.  A few examples of topics are: rituals, values, empathy, conflict, parenting , and joy and gratitude. She provides the couple with 7-10 questions on each topic to guide their learning about each other. For example, on emotional intimacy she suggests couples ask, “Do you feel connected to me when we are doing things separately”? On parenting she asks, “Do you think children should be allowed to express an opinion?” Here are some of her questions on the subject of respect. 1.    Do you feel safe to be your genuine, imperfect self with me? 2.    Do I respect your suggestions? 3.    Do I ever second-guess your decisions? 4.    Do you feel like I have your back? 5.    Do I show you that I appreciate you? 6.    Do you think that I take you seriously? 7.    Do I treat you with as much respect now as I did early in our relationship? Each question series comes with a one-page explanation to help set a positive tone and she recommends that the couple always start comfortably, maybe with a hug, a soothing drink or a smile. So two choices to support you:  one when you really want to exercise your brain and the other when you want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Both books can be purchased on Amazon. For Rabin’s book on Winnicott, click softcover or click kindle. The Couples Therapy Workbook is available in softcover only. Enjoy…
Southern California in January sounds appealing. Saturday, January 31 in Los Angeles, CA, is a conference called “Cultivating Loving Connections.” This conference brings together relationship specialists from a range of treatment approaches to explore the complexities of attachment and the deeply social nature of the brain. Presenters will illuminate the processes that create change and healing. Presenters include Dr. Ellyn Bader, PhD, Bonnie Goldstein, PhD, Maya Kollman, MA, Pat Ogden, PhD, Dr. Peter Pearson, PhD, Marion Solomon, PhD, Stan Tatkin, PsyD. Pete and I are especially pleased to help sponsor this unusual event because registration fees will support building more classrooms for the kids we love in Kenya. The conference is a fundraiser for World Teacher’s Aid. If you’d like to see their inspiring work, visit World Teacher's Aid. And if you’d like to find out more about the conference or register, visit Lifespan Learning Institute.

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Thank you Ellyn for all you contribute to the world and to us as therapists helping others, particularly re your invaluable mentorship re couples. You are an inspiration. I appreciate you very much!
Michelle L LMFT

Katie Cashin Therapy
Katie Cashin Therapy

Adding these to my Amazon Wishlist! I really appreciate the two sides of thinking (or not thinking) these resources employ. Having a library of various methodologies is so valuable!

Ephraim Frankel, MFT, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Ephraim Frankel, MFT, Milwaukee, WI, USA

Thank You, Ellyn for these two illuminating resources. I find while couples like hearing incisive, break-through themes, thoughts, and ideas, they like even more, and really yearn for, the kinds of guided experiences that alter, modify, and transform their process and create a connection that wakes them up to a more heart-felt way of interacting. The hostility and defensiveness dissipates into a new connection confirmed by a dramatic change in the verbal tone, which, when they’re guided to reflect on, and savor, becomes very moving. An angry, post-polio-crippled husband, going thru this, labored to get up, and fell into his wife’s open arms and they just looked at each other, finally wordless, but deeply caring.
I’ll be exploring these two new resources for the work to improve my own therapy work.
These gifts are really welcoming and reassuring! Thank You again!

Dr. Ellyn Bader

Dr. Ellyn Bader is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy. Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

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