Of all the meaningful sessions that take place in a therapist’s office, certain ones stand out. In this Symposium storytelling highlight, couples therapist Terry Real shares a memorable moment from his work.
How Taking Sides Gets to the Heart of Conflict
By Terry Real - My own experience as a couples therapist has taught me that we aren't doing clients a favor by soft-pedaling difficult issues. More than adopting any particular methodology of change, we can be far more direct and challenging to clients who come to us than we've previously acknowledged. By and large, people are neither fragile nor stupid. If you show them how they're getting in their own way and what behaving more skillfully looks like, they'll be grateful.
Ignoring the Destructive Patterns in Front of Us Does Our Clients a Disservice
By Terry Real - It's disrespectful to clients not to let them in on the truth about what we witness regularly in our offices as they play out their relationships in front of us: the ways they deal with their partners are often self-centered, unfeeling, and counterproductive. I believe that in order to teach our clients how to be authentic and connected, we must be real with them ourselves.
Why We Need to Leave Neutrality Behind
By Terry Real - Factions of men and women these days are feeling a powerful pull toward many of the notions of traditional masculinity. What we’re witnessing is a reassertion of its most difficult and harmful traits. And yet we psychotherapists, as a field, have remained largely silent about this resurgence. Is neutrality in these times really in our clients’ best interests?
Why Psychotherapy's Views on Male Intimacy Need to Change
By Terry Real - The pressure to be hard, logical, independent, and stoic all too often sets men up to be emotionally distant, arrogant, and numb to their own feelings. These aren't pathological aberrations; they're the defining characteristics of manhood in our culture. That's why I break one of marital therapy's cardinal rules. I side with the woman.
When is Enough Enough?
We spend countless hours focused on how best to keep couples together, but rarely pay much attention to how to best help them split up. And we spend even less time examining how our own emotional reactions can influence their decision about whether to divorce.
How to Tell When Splitting Up is the Best Option for a Failing Marriage
Some marriages' endings have broken my heart, made me look hard at my technique, and wonder what I might have done differently. But when I believed the couple, the therapy, and even the children were better served by the partners’ letting go, I’ve breathed a sigh of relief. In other words, I don’t see my job as stitching every couple together no matter what. Sometimes, in fact, my job turns out not to be forestalling the dissolution of a family, but facilitating it.