Topic - Couples

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We've gathered Psychotherapy Networkers most popular posts and arranged them here by topic.

Satori in the Bedroom

Tantra and the Dilemma of Western Sexuality

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Many of us enter the bedroom now as if we have been told we are about to play a high-stakes game. There is no rule book, or else it's been hidden. Everyone else, we think, knows how to play. We charge down the field. We pass the ball. A whistle blows. The rules have changed. We are given five different rule books and told to choose one that suits us. (We have no idea what book the other team is playing from.) Bleeding from the shin, we strap on our battered equipment again and once more run down the field.

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The Evolution of Modern Sex Therapy

Katy Butler, Katy Butler

Twenty years after the sexual revolution, in the most sexually explicit culture in the world, a surprisingly large number of people continue to have difficulties with the sexual basics. Psychoanalytic therapy had little to offer them beyond symbolic explorations of their upbringings and "Oedipal" conflicts. But modern sex therapy consists mainly of counseling and "homework" in which new experiences are tried and new skills practiced.

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Cultivating Erotic Intelligence in Couples Therapy

Reconciling Sensuality and Domesticity

Esther Perel

America, in matters of sex as in much else, seems to be a goal-oriented society that prefers explicit meanings, candor, and "plain speech" to ambiguity and allusion. In America, this predilection for clarity and unvarnished directness, often associated with honesty and openness, is encouraged by many therapists in their clients: "If you want to make love to your wife/ husband, why don't you say it clearly? And tell him/her exactly what you want." But I often suggest an alternative with my clients: "There's so much direct talk already in the everyday conversations couples have with each other," I tell them. "If you want to create more passion in your relationship, why don't you play a little more with the natural ambiguity of gesture and words, and the rich nuances inherent in communication."

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Bad Couples Therapy

Betting Past the Myth of Therapist Neutrality

William Doherty

Most therapists learn couples therapy after they get licensed--through workshops and by trial and error. Most specialize in individual therapy, and work with couples on the side. So it's not surprising that the only form of therapy that received low ratings in a famous national survey of therapy clients, published in 1996 by Consumer Reports, was couples therapy. The state of the art in couples therapy isn't very artful. I'll start with beginners' mistakes and then describe how couples therapy can go south, even in the hands of experienced therapists.

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Are You There for Me?

Understanding the Foundations of Couples Conflict

Susan Johnson

On the first day of a clinical placement in my doctoral program during the early 1980s, I was assigned to a counseling center and told by the director that because of unexpected staffing problems, I'd be seeing 20 couples a week. I'd never done any couples therapy, but I did have considerable experience as a family and individual therapist with emotionally disturbed adolescents--a tough, challenging group of clients if ever there was one! So my first thought when given this new assignment was, "After what I've done, how hard can this be?" I plunged in and almost immediately was appalled by how hard it actually could be!

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Beyond Viagra

Why the Promise of Cure Far Exceeds the Reality

Barry McCarthy

Contrary to media myths, movies, and male braggadocio, sex is seldom 100-percent successful, especially as men age. The most important fact for our sex-saturated society to accept is that 5 to 15 percent of all sexual experiences among well-functioning couples are dissatisfying or dysfunctional. In other words, contrary to the cultural myth of ecstasy all the time as the norm, almost all happy, sexually fulfilled couples experience lousy sex occasionally.

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VIDEO: Beginning Therapy with High-Conflict Couples

Tips from Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson

Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson

Highly distressed couples seek out help for immediate solutions for their pain and suffering. Why is tackling the issues head-on a big mistake for a therapist?

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A Triple Boundary Crossing

From Client to Friend to Client

Arnold Lazarus

Therapists are expected, of course, to treat all clients with respect, dignity and consideration, and to adhere to the spoken and unspoken rules that make up our established standards of care. Many of these rules are necessary and sensible, but I believe that some elements of our ethical codes have become so needlessly stringent and rigid that they can undermine effective therapy. Take, for example, the almost universal taboo on "dual relationships," which discourages any connection outside the "boundaries" of the therapeutic relationship, such as lunching, socializing, bartering, errand-running or playing tennis.

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The Crush

Challenging Our Culture of Avoidance

Mary Jo Barrett

Before it happened to me, I had never heard even my closest colleague talk about falling in love with a client. In our consultation group, the subject was once broached purely theoretically, and everyone became uncomfortably quiet. Nobody shared a personal experience. The message we gave each other was clear: Whatever you do, don't talk about having a crush on a client! And that may be why I would rather write about being seen naked by a client at the health club, or dealing with anti-Semitic remarks in session, than describe to you what happened. Yet, I want to break our conspiracy of silence so that we can get help when we need it. And believe me, when it came to Scott, I did.

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The Whole World Is Watching

Therapy and the TED Talk Stage

Kathleen Smith

Earlier this year, therapist Michele Weiner-Davis spent hours in front of a camera, her husband patiently hitting the record button as she rehearsed for what she believed could be the most important 18 minutes of her professional career: her first TED talk.

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