A minister was once
asked how long it took to prepare a particular sermon. He responded without
hesitation, "All my life". I understand that comment.
From the time I decided
to create a unique website for couples to the time the Couple's Workstation was launched was about a year and a half, but it has clearly
taken me all my life to create this site, and it will continue to grow
and change and undoubtedly improve as life continues to teach me about
love, marriage and relationships.
Because of this complexity
it is difficult to fully and accurately give credit where credit is due.
I apologize now for those I leave out of these acknowledgments. I have
been privileged to study under some of the best psychological and relationship
thinkers in our times. I have two Master's Degrees and one Doctorate in
Clinical Psychology. I am licensed in California both as a clinical psychologist
and as a marriage and family therapist. All of these have required hundreds
of hours in classes, supervision and thousands of hours with individuals,
couples and families. I could not possibly remember or give proper credit
for all who deserve it.
Giving proper credit
is further complicated in that the therapeutic approaches that have appealed
most to me as a therapist and as a person in relationship have been what
are known as integrative theories. Both Gestalt Therapy and Imago Relationship
Therapy are integrations that have acknowledged their indebtedness to
a wide variety of therapies, theories, philosophies and systems of thought.
Just as the three men looking at an elephant through three knotholes in
a fence get only a partial picture, so no one perspective, theory, orientation
presents a completed picture of the complexities of relationships. Even
the integrative approaches, while being more inclusive, do not contain
the whole picture.
So while we know more
about relationships today than at any other time in history, there is
still an element of mystery and "unknowable ness" about love. I like that.
But what I am presenting
in the Couple's Workstation rests largely on the contributions
of the following:
My Wife and Daughters
For almost thirty five years I have had a wonderful and courageous wife,
Carol, who has partnered with me in this relationship journey, helped
keep my head out of the clouds, kept me grounded in what works and without
whose commitment to our relationship, I probably would have finished this
project much sooner! Nevertheless, this project would never have happened
had it not been for her support, input and dedication to marriage and
I also have two wonderful
daughters who have married good men and are all committed to the relationship
journey. We continue to learn from each other.
I want to acknowledge Ted Crawford who was the first to teach a systematic
communication system, called the Revolving Discussion Sequence. It is
his work that became the foundation for the Conscious Dialog Process taught
in the Couple's Workstation. Ted has been a good friend
and a wonderful consultant over the years.
My doctoral dissertation was on the impact on marriage satisfaction of
a training program in communications skills. The book, Basic Marriage
Communication Training, was part of this project and became the foundation
for my practice in the early years. This project put me in touch with
the current thinking of the time on what makes marriage work and what
doesn't. From that research I learned that the most important part of
a successful relationship is learning to build on the positive, learn
your partner's love language and focus on activities and behaviors that
are nurturing and loving. I also presented in that book the first version
of what is now the Conscious Dialog Process.
My practice was largely
built around Basic Marriage Communication Training and I trained well
over a hundred therapists in using that process and method. The program
involved a "teaching machine" that was invented for it, and one of my
next projects will be to computerize that whole system.
After getting my doctorate I spent several years in training groups in
Gestalt Therapy. Gestalt therapy is probably one of the best orientations
for therapists working with couples with its focus on working in the present,
understanding the process of making connections and contact and learning
the relationship task of "how to be a "self" while including an "other".
For the last twelve years I have been working mostly within the Imago
Relationship Therapy system of thought. The roots of Imago Therapy are
also in Gestalt as well as Transactional Analysis and so my attraction
to Imago was easy and understandable. Imago Therapy also included a communication
process, Couple's Dialog or sometimes called "Intentional Dialog"; so
discovering a new integrative approach to couples work that included a
communication system was gratifying to me.
Many of the skills
and processes presented in the Couple's Workstation have
a clear Imago flavor to them and I am indebted to Imago Therapy for that.
Imago has been particularly adept at describing and emphasizing the positive
strivings and the wonderful potential of committed relationships as a
place where healing and growth can happen. The mate selection process
and the wounds and protections from childhood that are a major source
of conflict in relationships have been presented more clearly in Imago
than in other orientations. And to clearly reframe the mate selection
phenomenon as a positive striving for wholeness and healing rather than
as the Freudian neurotic "repetition compulsion" was a major contribution
of the Imago approach.
Pat Love was my first trainer in Imago Therapy. From her I not only
learned the major concepts of Imago but saw that within the Imago system
there are many different and creative ways of "doing Imago". Pat's books
will be recommended in the "bookstore" area of Relationship-Help.com.
Upon Pat's encouragement and recommendation, I became a Workshop Presenter
and have been offering the "Getting the Love You Want Workshops"
for over ten years.
I received my Workshop Presenter training from Harville Hendrix, the
founder of Imago Relationship Therapy. Harville's main contribution
was in the understanding of the complexities and dynamics of the mate
selection process and how this is a major source of both conflict in
the relationship and the healing and growing potential of the relationship.
(See the article, How We Really Choose Our Mates) Imago presents
a very high view of marriage and intimate committed relationships and
builds a strong case for commitment and the benefit of working hard
on a marriage.
second major contribution, in my view, was in his developing of "delivery
systems" for presenting this valuable information in the form of the
Workshops for couples and singles.
Harville, in my
view, created one of the better overall systems for understanding and
working on committed relationships and I am indebted to his contributions.
His books are also
in our Bookstore. Getting the Love You Want is a book every couple
Imago and Gestalt
I have often in my own mind compared Harville with Fritz Perls, the founder
of Gestalt Therapy. Both created integrative systems, borrowing heavily
from the insights and perspectives of many systems and both were not afraid
of the "technology" of therapy. Gestalt developed a therapeutic model
based on the I-Thou relationship and used a variety of "techniques" ranging
from the "empty chair" technique to analysis of dreams. Imago developed
a therapeutic model based on the mate selection process and developed
a variety of techniques like the Couple's Dialog, the Behavior Change
Request Process and "Caring Behaviors". Both use contact with other people
as part of the therapeutic process. Gestalt focuses on contact in group
therapy, contact with the therapist and contact with life partners; Imago
focuses primarily on contact with the intimate, committed love partner.
Both have enriched
my personal and therapeutic life and I am deeply appreciative of their
I was trained as a therapist in the seventies where any suggestion that
men and women were different in any ways other than anatomy and culture
was cause to be run out of town on a rail. John Gray, author of "Men
and from Mars; Women are from Venus" challenged this "unisex" approach
and struck a chord in the American public and around the world. The last
I heard, he was second only to the Bible in the number of books published.
I received some training
from John Gary and found him to be a very engaging and creative man, but
came away with the feeling that he had swung the pendulum a little too
far in the other direction, perhaps making too much of the differences.
Nevertheless, I believe he has made a significant contribution to understanding
relationships and has certainly made it easier to talk about differences.
The idea that we all to some extent create our own reality and emotional
life through the beliefs we hold, the automatic thoughts that emerge and
the "self talk" we do about our lives is best understood and presented
in the Cognitive Therapy approaches to psychotherapy. You will find many
ideas, approaches and processes on the Couple's Workstation
that have been clearly influenced by the insights of this school of relationship
I hope you enjoy and
benefit from this site.