PCFINE Year I Educational Objectives

Key Concepts in Working with Couples

Carolynn Maltas, Ph.D. and Keith Irving, Ph.D.

  • To be able to differentiate between one-person and two-person projective identification in couples
  • To be able to describe two or more psychological purposes of marriage
  • To be able to identify some concepts from family systems models that help in recognizing key dysfunctional patterns and possible choice points for interventions
  • To be able to identify and explain two common differences in the role of couple therapist in psychoanalytic vs family systems models
  • To be able to describe how intrapsychic elements in the individual partners are transformed into systemic qualities of the couple dyad, using the concept of the "vulnerability cycle."

The Formation of the Therapeutic Alliance in Couple Therapy

Luanne Grossman, Psy.D.

  • To be able to describe the challenges of developing a bilateral alliance in couple therapy

  • To be able to describe how systemic issues complicate developing an alliance in couple therapy

  • To be able to describe effective treatment strategies to maintain a therapeutic alliance in couple therapy


Evaluation and Formulation

Justin Newmark, Ph.D.

  • To be able to collect data about patients’ psychological histories in order to evaluate the current difficulty and diagnose psychological disorders
  • To be able to identify the key problematic behaviors and symptoms impairing the couple’s functioning
  • To be able to discuss various approaches for working with the couple’s identified problems and making an initial choice of where to intervene

Transference and Countertransference in Couple Therapy

Jennifer Stone, Ph.D.

  • To be able to understand and explain the differences between individual and couple therapy in the typical transferences that clients experience
  • To be able to recognize and describe the counter-transference reactions that a therapist may experience in working with couples, and to understand an array of options for dealing with these experiences
  • To be able to recognize and describe ways of addressing the partner-to-partner transferences that lie at the center of many couples' difficulties


Therapeutic Action in Couple Therapy 

David Goldfinger, Ph.D.

  • To be able to distinguish between the interpretive and enactive dimensions of therapeutic action
  • To be able to detect the workings of projective identification and role responsiveness in couple dynamics    
  • To be able to identify subjective dysfunctions in couple therapy sessions and to help each partner develop compassionate understanding for the other's experience

Relationship as a Developmental Process and Opportunity

Mary Kiely, Ph.D.

  • To be able to describe the therapeutic usefulness of a developmental perspective in couple therapy
  • To be able to describe how developmental growth in relationships can stall as a result of normative transitions, individuals' developmental histories, needs of the self versus needs of the relationship tension, and cultural notions about relationship
  • To be able to identify ways to intervene with couples using a developmental perspective

Behind Closed Doors: Sex in Couple Therapy

Magdalena Fosse, Psy.D.

  • To be able to understand and describe couples' distress and disappointment with their sex life and assess the impact it has on couples' overall functioning
  • To be able to assess partners' sexual narratives, and based on this understanding to be able to discern the nature of couples' sexual dysfunction
  • To be able to describe and utilize a couple of models of sexual functioning


Working with Affect

Marina Kovarsky, LICSW

  • To be able to describe ways in which disruptive affects serve as important markers of unconscious dynamics operating within a couple
  • To be able to identify ways in which the therapist's affective response can be used to infer the presence of projective identification within the couple's dynamic
  • To be able to differentiate between different modes of containment utilized by the therapist:  containment via co-regulation vs. containment via interpretation

Predictable and Not-So-Predictable Challenges in Working with Couples

Dan Schacht, LICSW

  • To be able to describe predictable and unpredictable challenges in doing couple/family therapy
  • To be able to identify the likely countertransferential responses to these challenges
  • To be able to discuss effective strategies to manage these challenges that are both external and internal to the therapist


From the Intrapsychic to the Interpersonal: Defensive Processes in Couples Therapy

Joe Shay, Ph.D.

  • To be able to describe the manifestations of the defensive projective identification in couples therapy
  • To be able to identify ways to intervene more effectively in the presence of defensive processes
  • To be able to identify common countertransference reactions in the presence of defensive processes


Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Couples Therapy but Were Afraid to Ask

Joe Shay, Ph.D. and Linda Camlin, Ph.D.

  • To be able to list some of the most common dilemmas faced by couple therapists
  • To be able to describe indications and contraindications for treating couples


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