Helping Therapy Clients in Difficult Relationships Find Peace

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I’ll be teaching a 2 hour webinar for therapists at 9 am, Eastern Time next Friday, 1/17/2020, on goodtherapy.org. Two continuing ed hours will be provided by GoodTherapy for attending this web conference in its entirety. If you cannot participate live, you’ll be able to view it from the Goodtherapy archives.

Every client who comes to therapy is likely to have hurt or been hurt by their loved ones. This is understandable for people who are seeking marriage counseling and trauma recovery, but it is likely also the case when the presenting problem is addiction or any other mental health condition. The focus of treatment should not necessarily be on the harm caused or suffered, but relationships may need to be mended before recovery can be solid.

A break in a relationship can bring up many difficult questions for both the clinician and the client. Was the harm momentous, or was it much ado over nothing? Can a perpetrator’s complaints be taken seriously or are they simply justifying their actions? Are the victim and perpetrator in denial? Is the victim playing the victim? Is the victim forgiving too easily or making restitution impossible? Is the perpetrator staying in the relationship out of codependency or authentic love? How can things be made right? Is it okay to confess a betrayal to someone ignorant of it? How can the client effectively demand an apology? How do you make an apology stick? What can be done when reconciliation is impossible? What does peace look like?

In this 2-hour continuing education web conference, I will discuss how to answer these questions and more. I will describe a process of healing and potential forgiveness for anyone in a relationship affected by selfishness, violence, abuse, addiction, or betrayal; whether they are the victim, the perpetrator, or both. I will explain how to assess the damage done and recognize codependency and vindictiveness, blocking the way from injury to peace. I will give pragmatic advice on how to help clients find safety, assert needs, apologize, make amends, and promote change.

It’ll be all based on my book, The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad

The Beauty and the Beast

You’ve seen Disney’s version of the Beauty and the Beast. If you’ve had a toddler, you’ve seen it a thousand times. Did you know that you may be acting it out in your own life? Do you realize it might be ruining everything?

You know the story: a charming young woman falls in love with a beastly man and, through her love, he is transformed into a prince. The ancient Greeks had elements of the plot in their myths of Eros and Psyche and Hades and Persephone. In fairy tales, you have ladies kissing frogs. Then there’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and, in our own time, a variation was developed in the Phantom of the Opera. The hope it offers is intoxicating. The picture of marriage seems true to life. Continue reading

The Madonna and the Whore

For centuries, men have been putting women, and women have been putting themselves, into two categories, the Madonnas and the Whores. Consequently, they either get sex without love, or love without sex.

The Madonna is serious, pure, virginal, loving, forgiving, safe, and supportive. She washes the man’s socks. She raises his children. He can leave and she will still be there when he returns. She is his mother.

The Whore is fun, slutty, degraded, aggressive, hard, and wanton. She goes away when he’s done. He doesn’t have to wake up with her. He’s thrilled by her. She is his toy. Continue reading

Natural Variations

Take any two people and there will always be a natural variation between them regarding any characteristic.

There will always be one who is more strict with the kids, open to in-laws, careful with money, adventurous in bed, ambitious about career, social, self-confident, flirty, interested in a clean house, closer to family, better at math, permissive, more sharing of feelings, horny, generous to others, and on, and on, and on. Continue reading