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Digital Seminar

Getting Off to a Powerful Start in Couples Therapy

Starting and Sustaining Positive Momentum with Distressed Couples

Ellyn Bader, PhD
1 Hour 49 Minutes
Audio and Video
Mar 23, 2024
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar
Never expires.


When couples come for therapy, partners often arrive in urgent distress, sometimes in the heat of hostility, pain, and hopelessness. And as the therapist, you’re expected to help—fast. How do we avoid being swept up in the chaos? In this workshop, you’ll explore powerful questions and interventions you can use in early sessions to develop a collaborative treatment plan that increases motivation and offers hope, even with the most distressed couples. We’ll discover how to: 

  • Take a strong leadership role early in couples therapy so couples trust you 
  • Create an easy-to-understand conceptualization of what couples are facing even when they bring up multiple issues 
  • Chart a clear and collaborative direction for therapy early that can lower the temperature and keep couples engaged in the process 


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.


PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This program is worth 2 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



Ellyn Bader, PhD's Profile

Ellyn Bader, PhD Related seminars and products

The Couples Institute

Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., is in private practice and is Co-Director of The Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California. Over the past 25 years she has conducted professional training programs in couples therapy and has trained therapists throughout the United States as well as Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. She is a past president of the International Transactional Analysis Association and a recipient of the Clark Vincent Award for an outstanding literary contribution to the field of marital therapy from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Dr. Bader is frequently invited to speak at national and international conferences. She and her husband, PETER PEARSON, Ph.D., coauthored the books, “In Quest of the Mythical Mate: A Developmental Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment in Couples Therapy” (Brunner/Mazel) and “Tell Me No Lies: How to Face the Truth and Build an Honest Marriage” (St. Martin’s Press).

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Ellyn Bader is the director of The Couples Institute and receives compensation as a consultant. She receives royalties as a published author. Ellyn Bader receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Ellyn Bader is a member of the American Psychological Association, the International Transactional Analysis Association, and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.


Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.

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  1. Demonstrate how to take charge and be a strong leader in early interviews with couples. 
  2. Administer a couples developmental assessment questionnaire and use some of the questions to immediately interrupt passivity and regression. 
  3. Determine a couples’ developmental stage. 
  4. Discuss the necessity of engagement and practice in couples’ therapy. 



  • What does it mean to be a strong leader in couples’ therapy? 
  • The 6 essential elements of early sessions to set a powerful direction for couples therapy 
  • How to create motivation for change 
  • The neurobiology of couples fights  
  • How to administer a couples developmental assessment questionnaire  
  • The developmental stages of couples  
  • The self-protections that inhibit constructive action 
  • How to teach couples to assess their own developmental progress 
  • Strategies for ensuring couples practice their skills outside of session 
  • Risks and Limitations of the Research 

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Counsellors
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Addiction Counsellors
  • Social Workers

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