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What Makes Couples Therapy Stick?

Three Ways to Maintain Progress Outside the Consulting Room

Carolyn Daitch

By Carolyn Daitch - Successfully combating and overriding firmly ingrained behaviors requires practice. It's our job as therapists to help clients learn how and when to practice these skills, and then make sure they go home and do it.

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Words That Haunt

Helping Couples Work Through Old Character Attacks

Ellen Wachtel

By Ellen Wachtel - I used to believe that if a couple was getting along and behaving in a loving way to one another, hurtful and even cruel words would naturally fade into the background. But I’ve frequently seen couples in which hurt spouses may forgive their partner for the harsh words spoken in anger, but nonetheless remain haunted by some biting comment that continues to sting long after the argument is over.

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Disabling Toxic Verbiage

Four Ways to Push Pause on a Verbal Bully

Kate Cohen-Posey

By Kate Cohen-Posey - We live in an age in which using toxic verbiage against others has almost become the norm. Here's how we can help clients deal with these kinds of situations in the moment.

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Therapy, the Conversational Craft

Strategies for Improving Your Therapeutic Conversation Skills

William Doherty

By Bill Doherty - In this era of medical necessity and evidence-based therapies, it's easy to lose sight of the basic truth that psychotherapy is a special form of conversation: we heal not through prescriptions and procedures, but through talking and listening. What if we think of therapy as a conversational craft that we hone over a career with our clients and with a community of conversational healers?

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Five Strategies for When Therapy is Stuck

Bypassing the Limits of Feelings, Judgments, and Language

Steve Andreas

By Steve Andreas - When therapy goes wrong, it’s typically because we’ve entered our clients’ trance, joining them in their myopic misery. Therapy typically hangs on your ability to demonstrate more skill and awareness in using the trancelike qualities of human communication to move beyond the tunnel vision that can stall therapy and prevent change and healing from taking place.

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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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Putting an End to the Blame Game

A Tool for Helping Partners See Both Sides

Alicia Muñoz

By Alicia Muñoz - Giving up being right doesn’t mean you give up your convictions. It means honoring a multiplicity of viewpoints. Rumi says, “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” For couples, this garden is their relationship.

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Making Partners Therapists for Each Other

In a Good Relationship, Your Problems Aren't Yours Alone

Ellen Wachtel

By Ellen Wachtel - In couples therapy, if we can help each partner be a better therapist for the other, all three of us can feel more helpful and effective. My favorite way is to start by using a particular exercise to provide a window into each partner’s psyche.

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Helping People Pleasers Set Boundaries

…And What to Do When It Backfires

Alicia Muñoz

Alicia Muñoz - Boundaries bind. They limit, stop, and inhibit. But they also free people up to be themselves. In couples where one partner is a people-pleaser, things can get even more complicated.

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Couples Therapy with a Positive Spin

How to Accomplish Something in Every Session

Ellen Wachtel

By Ellen Wachtel - Doing couples therapy isn’t easy. But often there are implicit positives in statements in which the main point is anger, disappointment, and hurt. With practice, therapists can learn to pick up on the strengths that are embedded in painful emotions.

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