Working with couples: Common Clinical Dilemmas
A one-day training workshop with Harriet Drake and Andrew Grimmer
London, May 6th 2017, Saturday
10:00 – 17:00
Couples often present unique dilemmas to us, as therapists, and we cannot apply individual therapy solutions in such instances. How do we work with secrets between the couple for example, or affairs and betrayals of trust? Drawing on their clinical work and practical insights from psychodynamic, cognitive and psychological domains, Harriet and Andrew have designed this workshop to be of practical utility for couple therapists across modalities. Using case vignettes, the workshop helps us comprehend the therapeutic process we can follow for couple dilemmas, with a view to fostering an effective therapeutic alliance.
The workshop starts with an explanation of practical steps that can allow for engendering a relatively calm and effective therapeutic alliance environment within which couples can communicate effectively. Specifically, we consider situations where:
- Both partners are not equally communicative and as therapists we are expected to moderate their discussions
- Situations where there is explicit resistance to change and how our emphasis can be on altering unhelpful cognitions
- How we can promote acceptance of inevitable differences between partners and change perceptions of conflict
The afternoon sessions of the workshop focus on two particularly problematic areas for couple therapists:
- how to work with the disclosure of a secret and
- how to work with couples where one partner has had an affair
There will be opportunities throughout the day for participants to discuss their own casework and consider how they can effectively work with specific difficulties that they have encountered in couple work.
About the Speakers:
Harriet Drake is a couple psychodynamic psychotherapist and psychosexual counsellor working in private practice and at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships where she was formerly the Lead trainer in Couple Therapy for Depression for IAPT services. Harriet is involved in the delivery of training and the supervision of therapists working for IAPT services within the NHS across the country. She has recently co –authored a book along with Christopher Clulow and David Hewison called “Couple Therapy for Depression: a clinician’s guide to integrative practice” which was published in 2014 by OUP.
Andrew Grimmer is a counselling psychologist with extensive experience of delivering a range of psychological therapies in primary care settings such as IAPT. He specialises in CBT and Couple Therapy for Depression and is an experienced trainer and supervisor who until recently was a Senior Programme Tutor on the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Therapies (CBT) at the University of Exeter.
10.00 Session 1: Dilemmas in Couple Therapy
In the first session of the day, we discuss:
- some of the differences between couple and individual therapy
- managing the process of therapy, especially when there may be strong resistance to change, high conflict and communication style differences between the couple
- techniques for working with couples where one may be silent whilst the other over-communicates, couples where both may enjoy talking but have difficulty in listening or situations where both partners are silent and withdrawn
- We will also focus on emotional regulation with high conflict couples and how we can shift the focus from blame attribution to joint participation
13:00 Lunch (a light lunch is provided as part of the workshop)
13:45 Session 2: Issues of Confidentiality and Secrets
In this session, we focus on one of the trickiest challenges in couple therapy: how to work with the disclosure of a secret. Should couple therapists hold secrets, encourage secrets to emerge or insist on full disclosure to the other partner? We will consider options including the viability of meeting one partner on their own, how to maintain confidentiality and how to manage note-keeping.
15:00 Tea/Coffee Break
15:15 Session 3: Working with Affairs and Infidelity
Couples may often seek counselling following the discovery of an affair by one partner. Infidelity, even in open relationships, may lead to couple separation or cause considerable damage to their relationship. Using clinical illustrations we will address the context and meaning of infidelity as influenced by unconscious processes within the couple and think about both partners’ respective roles.
16:30 Plenary Discussion
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