Working with Difficult Couples

This is a short course designed to give both new and experienced therapists the confidence and skills to work with a couple – particularly a couple who has presented in crisis. Couple work can be confronting and challenging to new and experienced therapists alike. Many therapists do not feel they have the confidence or the necessary skills to take the leap to couple work. Students will learn how to engage a couple, manage both the couples’ and the therapist’s anxiety when the couple is engaged in high conflict, and manage escalation of the conflict in both the therapy room and outside of it. There will be an emphasis on learning circular questioning, genogram work, hypothesizing and sequences. This will be a practical course drawing on systemic ideas, in particular Milan and Solution Focused Theory. Learning will be by class discussion, group work, DVD’s and case presentations.

I found this course very practical. Jacqueline’s style is informal, inclusive and encourages learning…(rollover to read more)



  • Students will understand systemic ideas and the difference between interpersonal work and intra-psychic work.
  • Students will understand how to manage a first and second session where a couple has presented in a volatile way and is in crisis.
  • Students will be able to hypothesize, positively connote and have a basic understanding of circular questioning.
  • Students will be able to construct and work with a genogram.
  • Students will understand how to engage a couple and keep the session balanced.
  • Students will understand how to manage their own anxiety and potential trigger responses to crisis situations.
  • Students will feel more confident approaching couple work.


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