Disappointments, arguments and fights, feeling misunderstood and distant from one another, getting or giving the “silent treatment”—our clients and ourselves often find these dynamics woven into interactions with the family, friends and partners we love and care for.
Confused about which brand of couples therapy is most user-friendly (for both your clients and for you personally as a therapist)? Marital and couples therapies have evolved initially from religious-based spiritual counseling to Insight-Oriented Marital Therapy, the behavioral marital therapy of Richard Stuart, to the Gottman Method, and Hendrix’s Imago therapy, to Christensen and Jacobson’s Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, to today’s attachment-based “emotionally focused” therapies of Johnson and Greenspan, not to forget the sex therapy approaches of Perel and Schnarch, Tatkin’s Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy, and the application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to couples by Harris.
Contributing to the excitement and controversy over “branding” of couples therapy are debates involving developmental researcher Jerome Kagan, Ph.D. arguing against attachment theory’s efficacy in therapy versus attachment-oriented clinician Dan Siegel, M.D.
In this workshop, an alternate approach will be presented, minimizing technique and theory in order to enhance the therapist’s ability to be present and helpful to the couple in having deeper conversations about difficult experiences.
We will examine implications for couples therapy of Professor Richard Davidson’s (2016) “Four Constituents of Well-Being” (resilience, outlook, attention and generosity) which are supported by neuroscience.
The “re-pairing” model has developed empirically over many years of the presenter’s work with couples dealing with sexual and other intimacy problems, from a twenty year association with Hal Sampson, Ph.D., (who developed Control Mastery Theory with Joe Weiss, M.D. and wrote about “treatment by attitude”), as well as reflecting insights from Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.
In addition to case discussion, we will use group and dyadic exercises and brief personal writing to help us become more present and to increase resilience after reactivity and defensiveness. The gifts of embracing disappointments with those we are closest to can be a deepened understanding of self and other, of connection, and heightened wisdom and compassion.
At the end of this class, participants will be able to:
Describe various theoretical approaches to couples therapy.
Describe steps to setting the frame for couples work.
Describe how to turn blame into compassion.
List three steps helpful in getting couples into more forgiveness.
List three concepts from Buddhism helpful for couples therapists.
About David Bullard, Ph.D.:
David has had a psychotherapy practice in San Francisco with individuals and couples for over 35 years. He is clinical professor in medicine and in medical psychology (psychiatry) at UCSF, where he meets with the Symptom Management Service (outpatient palliative care staff) of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and with the Professional Advisory Group of Spiritual Care Services.
David’s recent presentations have included ones for the San Francisco Psychological Association and for the San Francisco Zen Center (with Susan O’Connell, SFZC president); with Robert Thurman, Ph.D., (noted scholar, author and founder of TibetHouse.US); Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D., long-time translator and editor for His Holiness the Dalai Lama; and with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D., of the Foundation of the Sacred Stream (Berkeley).
David’s interviews (published online at psychotherapy.net ) with Mark Epstein, MD; Allan Schore, Ph.D.; Bessel van der Kolk, MD. Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D.; Robert Thurman, Ph.D.; and Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D. can be found at:
His latest publication (with the late Harvey Caplan, M.D. and Christine Derzko, M.D.) is "Sexual Problems" in M.D. Feldman & J.F. Christensen (Eds.), Behavioral medicine: A guide for clinical practice, 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical, 2014.
CPA is co-sponsoring with SCCPA. The California Psychological Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. CPA maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.
Important Notice: Those who attend the workshop and complete the CPA evaluation form will receive 4 continuing education credits. Please note that APA CE rules require that we only give credit to those who attend the entire workshop. Those arriving more than 15 minutes after the start time or leaving before the workshop is completed will not receive CE credits.