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NP0011 Who's Afraid of Couples Therapy?

This blog focuses on discussion regarding the course NP0011 Who's Afraid of Couples Therapy?
 
 

NP0011, Couples, Session 3, William Doherty

 
What happens when partners in couples therapy have two different agendas in mind? Hear from expert William Doherty on this little spoken about topic. Learn how Discernment Counseling, an approach that helps couples clarify their feelings about the next step in their relationship, can help both clients and therapists.

After the session, please let us know what you think. What’s your experience with mixed-agenda couples in therapy? What questions remain for you now? Let us know what you think.

Thank you so much for your participation, and welcome to this relevant and important series. If you ever have any technical questions or issues, please feel free to email support@psychotherapynetworker.org.

12.19.2011   Posted In: NP0011 Who's Afraid of Couples Therapy?   By Psychotherapy Networker
18
Comments
 

  • -0.2 avatar Rachele Moskowitz 12.21.2011 14:36
    That was a great session Bill, thanks. Quick question--how long are your discernment sessions typically and how much time do you spend with each partner individually?
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Ishita Sangra 12.21.2011 14:55
    Dear Bill, Very interesting and insightful session! My question is.... How do you work on the neutrality during the Discernment sessions? Even when you are working with the couple individually in the discernment sessions there could be a real possibility wherein one of the partner could feel that the therapist is taking the other partners side or working from his/her agenda..
    Rich, thanks for being an excellent facilitator and asking questions with a 360 degree perspective!

    Regards
    Ishita Sangra
    Dublin-Ireland
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Ishita Sangra 12.21.2011 15:00
    Dear Bill, Very interesting and insightful session! My question is.... How do you work on the neutrality during the Discernment sessions? Even when you are working with the couple individually in the discernment sessions there could be a real possibility wherein one of the partner could feel that the therapist is taking the other partners side or working from his/her agenda..
    Rich, thanks for being an excellent facilitator and asking questions with a 360 degree perspective!

    Regards
    Ishita
    Dublin-Ireland
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Stephanie Kitchen 12.21.2011 15:33
    That was a great session! Thanks Bill and Rich. I just began using this with a couple right after reading your article, Bill, in Psychotherpay Networker. I have two questions. First, when working with a couple where an affair has been known about for several weeks by the time they show up for discernment counseling, and the one having the affair is uncertain whether to end it and work on the marriage or not, but the other spouse is feeling desparate for a decision, how does the therapist balance that situation and give appropriate time for discernment without prolonging potential damage done by continuation of the affair? My second question is where and how might I find guidance on the use of this method?
    Thanks
    Reply
    • Not available avatar Risa Simpson-Davis 12.25.2011 11:28
      Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you so much for asking that question. I am working with a couple right now with that problem and I would love to have some feedback.
      Reply
  • Not available avatar susan podlog 12.23.2011 15:48
    Bravo! Thanks, Rich for this practical, thoughtful interview with Bill Doherty. I still refer to the excellent road map Dr. Doherty introduced in April (?) 2006 Networker describing this approache with 'mixed agenda'/ ambivalent couples.It has been wonderful to have this webinar to elaborate from a 2011 perspective. Rich's question near the end of the session about possible criticisms of the approach serves to highlight for me the strength of the protocol,as I understand it. As Bill so aptly points out many of us working with couples through the years found the trap of starting prematurely to engage in 'couple therapy' only to find one party dropping out, possibly saying counselling did not work. In individual therapy, there is often a pull to side with the client presenting and set a course for divorce with only half the story. This model helps create a very useful demarcation about client preparation for relationship repair. Dr. Doherty's ideas have helped define the territory and a road map, too! Thanks from a grateful student of this work. I have found a(somewhat) simmilar demarcartion in the recent work of John Gottman. The line between assessment and therapy seems to help engage partners into a clearer process with a shared goal for repair or relational improvement. Susan Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Reply
  • 0 avatar Stanley Hyman 12.23.2011 16:37
    I am very excited about the Discernment Counseling model. I am doing a little of that (in some form) now in my couples work but watching the seminar has helped me to put it into perspective.

    One question to Bill: It sounded like you had the partners arrive together for their individual consultations with you and then, after seeing them both individually that day, brought them together to report or wrap up until next time. Is that correct or is there a different protocol?

    Thanks.
    Stan Hyman: Please reply to DrHyman@aventurastressrelief.com
    Reply
  • -0.2 avatar Ellen S. Daniels 12.24.2011 14:13
    Wonderful presentation, very inspiring, Bill.

    One question: I'm not clear about "holding secrets" when one spouse reveals something to you in individual session but the other spouse truly does not know about it. They might sense it but it hasn't come out into the open between them. If, say, the husband is having an "online affair," i.e. having emotionally open and even sexual conversations online but the wife doesn't know--do you reveal this when they come together in session?

    Thanks,

    Ellen S. Daniels
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Tracy 12.24.2011 15:34
    Thoroughly enjoyable and informative session. Discernment Counseling provides a way to address what may originally appear to be an impossible situation, and to have a healthier way for each person to understand and deal with whatever outcome occurs.
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Sneha Nikam 12.25.2011 11:51
    One more time wonderful listening opportunity. Thank you Rich Sir for your exact questioning and paraphrasing. Good to hear about Discernment Counselling, new concept. Getting an opportunity to know new things is always wellcome.

    One question, "Bill Sir can you give an example where after working with couple individually, where both of their agenda is either opposite of running in 90 degree direction and finally they agreed to couple therapy for resettlement. If there is an example for this then, is there any role of therapist which brings about this result and what is it or is that a result of therapist separate work with them on different agendas?"

    Actually I am unsure of how working on different agendas will help in any way to sustain the relation or is that not a goal at all and just to respect their individual goals/agendas.

    Thank you,
    Sneha
    Mumbai, India.
    Reply
  • -0.1 avatar David Riley 12.26.2011 10:38
    Thanks Bill for a very enlightening interview. It shed some light for me on why I have had a tough time working with a few couples. I realize that I did not press hard enough on the assessment of whether we could even enter couples therapy. The mixed agenda I would say is the case more often than not, at least in the initial sessions.
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Sharon Kocina 12.26.2011 15:30
    Great session! Rich, will Bill be answering questions?
    I would really like to know the answer to the question of how long each session lasts.
    Also, if one of the partners is having an affair and the couple decides to work on reconciliation, Bill, do you require the partner who had the affair to tell the other partner? If so, how is this handled so that it isn't a deal breaker? If not, how do you do therapy with them when you are now a "secret holder"?
    Reply
  • Not available avatar leticia 12.27.2011 11:14
    Thank you Rich and Bill, I feel so optimistic at having this approach that seemed counter intuitive for me and that now ¡makes so much sense!. I´ll be eternally greatful to my dear magazine for all this learning experiences, keep on with the good work.
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Joy Lang 12.27.2011 12:33
    Thank you for such a great session. That common errors certainly summed up with some of what I have done in working with couples! I really appreciated the information that you provided and can't wait to be able to try out this strategy with some couples. Thanks again! I'm looking forward to the answers to some of the questions above.
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Julie Sullivan-Redmond 12.27.2011 13:23
    Thank you Bill. I valued your comments on the "imbalance of vulnerability" that certainly happens in couples counseling with mixed agenda partners. Discernment counseling, as you described it, would seem to offer a more realistic way for couples to clarify what they really want. Rich, I appreciate these webinars. They offer real learning experiences that I can apply in my practice right away.
    Reply
  • Not available avatar Martha Smith 12.28.2011 22:25
    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I have had couples like this and did made the third basic mistake of forging ahead. This is very helpful to have an alternative model to use.
    Reply
  • 0 avatar Meg Grossman 03.03.2012 22:09
    Wow, I really learned a lot here. I wish I could turn back the clock and work differently with about 30 couples. Thank you again and again for this thoughtful addition to the way I will work with mixed agenda couples.

    Meg
    Ohio
    Reply
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