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AFTNC clinical members are MFTs, psychologists, social workers, and counselors with special interest in working with families and couples. Members may work with indivdual adults, children, adolescents, and groups as well as doing conjoint therapy

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February, 2024

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Therapy with couples on the brink of relationship dissolution involves special challenges. Couples present with high levels of disdain, low motivation, and hopelessness. One or both partners may be highly ambivalent about engaging in therapy and may be reluctant to try new and more positive interaction styles for fear that progress may trap them in the relationship. Social and personal justice issues around power often play a role in the couple’s distress. This presentation will provide a science-based integrative approach to working with last chance couples. A taxonomy of five types of last chance couples will be described: High conflict couples; those in which there has been a value or safety violation (interpersonal violence, infidelity, substance overuse); couples where partners have mismatched personal timelines/life goals; couples with little to no passionate connection; and couples in which a partner feels the need to pursue further psychosocial and sexual development outside the relationship. Research-supported techniques for establishing a therapeutic alliance and contract will be described. Clinical vignettes will illustrate effective techniques drawn from a multi-perspectival approach to couple therapy (the Therapeutic Palette Integrative Couple Therapy and the Creative Relational Movement Approach to Change) that integrates systemic, cognitive-behavioral, structural, intergenerational, attachment, experiential, psychodynamic, narrative, neuroscience, feminist, multicultural, and existential perspectives and practices.