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HomeEventsWhen Emotion, Power, & Societal Context Converge: Advances in Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy

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When Emotion, Power, & Societal Context Converge: Advances in Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy

This presentation explores what happens as societal context, power, and emotion converge in couple therapy. Video clips illustrate how to apply Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy (SERT), an approach that centers relational justice as an important component of ethical, socioculturally attuned practice and challenges cultural discourse that privileges individuality at the expense of relationships. Developed through over 15 years of process research focused on what works to create transformative, third-order change, SERT interrupts societal-based inequities and enables partners to realize their expectations for mutually supportive, health affirming relationships based on the Circle of Care––mutual vulnerability, attunement, influence, and relational responsibility. Participants will learn key clinical strategies for each of the three phases of the SERT clinical sequence, with an emphasis on mapping the socio-contextual nature of emotion, working with the connections between power and sociocultural vulnerability, and implications for clinical decision-making in couple therapy. 

By the end of this presentation, participants will be better able to:

1. Describe how societal context, power, and emotion converge in couple therapy.
2. Describe how to 
use clients’ positions in the Circle of Care to guide clinical decisions.

3. Utilize new clinical strategies for sociocultural attunement and working with power in couple therapy.


12:00 - Welcome, overview, and background on the development of SERT

12:10 - Conceptualizing societal context, power, and emotion in relational processes

12:20 - Use of the Circle of Care to guide assessment and clinical decision-making

12:25 - Phase 1 of SERT clinical sequence with video illustrations

12:50 - Breakout group observations and reflections

1:00 - Phase 2 SERT clinical sequence with video illustrations

1:20 - Breakout group observations and reflections

1:30 - Phase 3 SERT clinical sequence

1:45 - Discussion and take-aways  

2:00 - end

Carmen Knudson-Martin, PhD, LMFT, is professor emerita of Marital, Couple, and Family Therapy Program at Lewis & Clark College, Portland OR, USA. She has published over 100 articles and book chapters on the influence of the larger sociocultural context in couple and family relationships and the political and ethical implications of therapist actions on marital equality, relational development, and couple therapy. She is a developer of Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy which addresses the micro-processes by which societal power processes play out in relationships. Carmen is editor/author of six books, including A Step-by-Step Guide to Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy: A Socially Responsible Approach to Clinical Practice (2024); Socioculturally Attuned Family Therapy: Guidelines for Equitable Theory and Practice, 2nd Ed (2023), and The Socio-Emotional Relationship Workbook for Couples: Closing the Gap Between the Relationship You Want and the Relationship You Have (in press). 

Date: November 1st, 2024; 12:00pm - 2:00pm PT

Where: Zoom

Cost: Free to attend for active members and non members

CE: 2 CE credits free for members and $20 for non members

Friday, November 01, 2024, 12:00 PM until 2:00 PM
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
W. Keith Sutton
(415) 686-9544 (p)
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
Activities/Items    (Click the down-arrow to view details )
2 Continuing Education Credits
No Continuing Education Credits