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Even the most experienced therapists can be challenged in their efforts to move couples beyond the patterns of intense adversarial interaction and withdrawal that frequently characterize couple conflict. Collaborative Couple Therapy, developed by the renowned Dan Wile, PhD, provides therapists with a unique model for moving couples beyond this spiral of alienation and into a cycle of connection.
The purpose of this workshop is to present the principles of Collaborative Couple Therapy and equip participants to begin to use doubling—the signature method of this approach—in their own therapeutic work. When you double, you speak as if you were one of the partners talking to the other. The person you’re speaking for now has someone on their side helping them make their point. And they generally need help. Left to their own devices, people in conflict typically express their wishes as complaints and their needs as demands, leading to bad feeling, power struggles, and despair. Therapists tend to treat such gridlocked interactions as expressions of character pathology, ghosts of the past, personality clashes, or long-nursed grudges.
Dan Wile sees the heart of the problem as loss of voice—the inability of partners to express their inner yearnings and fears. They feel alone in their experience. Hopelessness sets in. This is “loss of voice”—whether it takes the form of kicking and screaming or quiet withdrawn desperation.
In Collaborative Couple Therapy, we take the problem that is occurring at the moment and, by giving voice to each partner’s experience, transform it into a moment of intimacy. Doubling is an excellent way to show partners how to give voice to their experience. When Partner A snaps angrily at Partner B in a manner that appears likely to escalate the situation, the therapist moves in and recasts the statement. If Joe says to Mary, “It’s always about you. You’re selfish. You never consider anyone else. You never think about me at all,” the therapist, doubling for Joe, says, “As you can see, I’m angry” or “I worry you’re going to leave me” or “I fear we’re drifting apart” or “I worry you don’t like me anymore” or “I miss the way we use to be” or “What happened to us?” The therapist transforms Joe’s blurted out accusation into a disarming self-disclosure by bringing out the wish or fear hidden in the complaint.
"Wile is a genius
and the greatest living
marital therapist."Dr John GottmanIn Collaborative Couple Therapy, the therapist creates an intimate conversation by introducing into the couple dialogue the haunting feelings that each partner struggles with alone. The ability to have such conversations when needed tranforms the relationship into a curative force for dealing with the issues that arise in the relationship. John and Julie Gottman, who use doubling in their acclaimed couple therapy approach, have granted Dan the honor of calling their use of this method, “Doing a Dan Wile.”