Integrative Couple Therapy
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In this video program, Dr. Ellen F. Wachtel demonstrates her approach to couple therapy, which emphasizes the positives that still exist in the relationship despite the difficulties that have brought the couple to treatment.
Although not ignoring the couple's conflicts and complaints, this strength-based, integrative approach emphasizes the goal of helping each person in the couple to get more of what he or she is longing for, thereby highlighting positives rather than deficiencies, and fostering self-reflection rather than blame.
In this video program, Dr. Ellen Wachtel demonstrates this therapeutic approach with a couple dealing with an impasse in the relationship, while Dr. Paul Wachtel examines and highlights teaching moments taken from the demonstration.
This is a strength based, integrative, solution focused approach that builds on the positives that still exist in the relationship despite the difficulties that have brought the couple to treatment. The goal is to help each person in the couple get more of what he or she is longing for rather than just resolve conflicts or diminish complaints. By carefully attending to the myriad of moment-to-moment choice points in every session, the therapist can direct the work in a manner that highlights strengths rather than deficiencies.
A central aim is fostering self-reflection rather than blame. This and other behavioral changes are encouraged by the therapist's careful attention to any movement in the right direction and giving positive feedback about "exception to the rule" moments and small changes that each person is making. This feedback maintains the couple's hopefulness and motivates each person to continue to try new behaviors and expand his or her sense of self and of the relationship.
Approaching the work interactively, the therapist incorporates important elements of cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, narrative, and experiential perspectives. It helps both partners to examine the "legacy" issues that each person brings to the relationship and works with the couple to find active ways to incorporate this understanding into their relationship and to ensure that each person's individual needs and wishes are addressed.
Looking deeply at the individual dynamics of each partner as well as the pattern of interaction, each person is encouraged to look at ways he or she could make things better rather than focusing on how the other should change. In the course of the work, attention to system dynamics, cognition, reinforcement, exposure, and warded off experiences of self and other all play an important role.
Ellen Wachtel has a PhD in clinical psychology from New York University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
She is the author of numerous articles, three books for therapists, and a self-help book for couples, We Love Each Other But... Her most recent book for therapists is The Heart of Couple Therapy: Knowing What to Do and How to Do It. Her books have been translated into many languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Arabic. She gives workshops on her work with couples both nationally and abroad.
She is an adjunct faculty member of the Ackerman Institute for the Family.
Paul L. Wachtel, PhD, is distinguished professor of psychology in the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College of New York and in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at City College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
He did his undergraduate studies at Columbia and received his doctorate in clinical psychology at Yale.
He was a cofounder of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration and is a past president of that organization. He has lectured and given workshops throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia both on clinical matters and on the applications of psychological theory and research to the pressing social problems of our times.
Among his books are The Poverty of Affluence (1983); Family Dynamics in Individual Psychotherapy (with Ellen F. Wachtel) (1986); Action and Insight (1987); Psychoanalysis, Behavior Therapy, and the Relational World (1997); and Race in the Mind of America: Breaking the Vicious Circle Between Blacks and Whites (1999). His most recent books are Relational Theory and the Practice of Psychotherapy (2008), Inside the Session: What Really Happens in Psychotherapy (2011), the second edition of Therapeutic Communication: Knowing What to Say When (2011), and Cyclical Psychodynamics and the Contextual Self: The Inner World, the Intimate World, and the World of Culture and Society (2014).
He is a Fellow of APA Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology), APA Division 29 (Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy), and APA Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) and was the winner of the 2010 Hans H. Strupp Award for Psychoanalytic Writing, Teaching, and Research, the 2012 Distinguished Psychologist Award by APA Division 29 and the 2013 Scholarship and Research Award by APA Division 39.
- Lerner, H. (2002) The dance of connection: How to talk to someone when you're mad, hurt, scared, frustrated, insulted, betrayed. William Morrow: New York
- Sprenkle, D. H. & Davis, S. D. & Lebow, L. (2009) Common factors in couple and family therapy. Guilford: New York
- Wachtel, E. F & Wachtel, P. L. (1986) Family dynamics in individual therapy: A guide to clinical strategies. New York: Guilford
- Wachtel, E. F. (2000) We love each other but.... New York: St. Martins
- Wachtel, P. L. (2011a). Therapeutic communication: Knowing what to say when, Second Edition. New York: Guilford.
- Wile, D. B. (2002). Collaborative couple therapy. In Gurman, A. S. & Jacobson, N. S (Eds.). Clinical handbook of couple therapy, Third edition. New York: Guilford, pp. 281–307
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