Couples Therapy Training and Consultation Groups

Refine your skills, increase your effectiveness, increase the rewards of couples therapy. Learn and practice with your own cases. Consultation groups run each year between September and May. These groups teach the Bader-Pearson Developmental Model in an integrated way, using your own cases. The group levels range from beginning to advanced so that regardless of your experience in couples therapy, you will grow as a therapist. Groups are small (average 8-10 participants) to ensure personal attention for optimal learning. The intermediate and advanced groups require the instructor's approval to join. A new series begins in September. Contact our office before then if you are interested in joining a group because these small groups fill up early.


The Foundation of Couples Therapy

In this group led by Michelle Wangler Joy, MA, MFT, you will learn and practice the developmental model of couples therapy.

You'll discover how to assess common couples problems, how to normalize problems to couples and how to create a collaborative approach to change. Topics include: the initial interview, diagnosis and assessment of couples stages, establishing goals in couples therapy, the Initiator-Inquirer process, working with hostile-dependent and conflict-avoidant couples, passive-aggressive partners, and narcissistic and borderline individuals in couples therapy. Read the course objectives, accreditation, and other details about CE before enrolling.

The class meets once a month for 9- months, and the fee for the series will be $950.

If you would like to join this group please contact our office. This small group fills early.

Michelle Wangler Joy, MFT, leads both groups. Michelle has been with The Couples Institute for 15 years, has taught training workshops locally and nationally, as well as workshops for couples. Michelle is a go-to person on staff for professional trainings. She is passionate about the importance of working with couples and loves teaching other therapists, helping them to explore and enhance their skills and confidence levels with the many challenging and rewarding couples we see.


Advanced Training and Consultation Group

Therapists who have completed training in the Developmental Model are eligible to join this advanced training group, led by Michelle Wangler Joy, MA, MFT.

You will learn how to take charge with the endlessly blaming couples, gain traction with the conflict avoidant couples, confront defenses in a way that is illuminating for everyone in the room, and guide entrenched couples out of destructive communication patterns.  You’ll also sharpen your skills in using the Initiator-Inquirer exercise, as both an assessment and intervention tool, to foster teamwork and collaboration.

Read the course objectives, accreditation and other details about CE before enrolling.



Ellyn is occasionally available for one-time consultations, in person or by phone, if you are struggling with a difficult case. You'll get confidence and clarity from her ability to analyze the situation and suggest helpful interventions. Scheduling is usually best with ten days' notice. Contact our office for a consultation.

A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.