NOTE: Due to COVID-19 , this workshop will be held virtually, through Zoom. 


Presented by Enrico Gnaulati, PhD

April 25, 2020                Seattle University

9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.          Harding Building

3 CEU's                           Room 142


This workshop will demarcate and elaborate upon an existentially-informed model of conflict resolution and salutary communication in couples therapy. Most couples present for therapy with the stated goal of improved communication, believing their marital problems are due to a deficit in communication skills, especially in the heat of conflict. However, there is a qualitative difference between helping couples acquire better listening skills and scripted lines to use when negotiating conflict, and facilitating a sustained commitment to respectful speaking and listening based on a mutual desire to be more fair, just, courageously vulnerable, non-shaming, humble, and forgiving in relating to loved ones. When couples are caught in vicious cycles of prideful monologue, they are ensnared not-caring-to-care about each other's feelings, acting dismissively of and diminishing each other's point of view, or distinct subjectivity--exemplary of Buber's I-it way of relating. If benign cycles of humble dialogue (Buber's I-Thou relationality) are to supplant vicious cycles of prideful monologue, the task in therapy is for unacknowledged shame and hurt to be addressed and due attention given to the role of healthy guilt and how it drives the desire to apologize and forgive. An attitude of "responsible responding" is paramount where both partners are aware that caring-to-care about the effects of one's actions can never be abandoned without harmful consequences. Humble dialogue is also recognizable through manifest respect for the other's otherness, an openness to ones partner's reparative affectionate gestures, and the easing of tension through humorous exchanges. Motivating couples to shift from prideful monologue to humble dialogue is often aided by the therapist creating a sense of existential urgency through reminding couples of the centrality of loving relationships in the living of a life, and of the importance of fair and just actions for engendering mutual good will. This presentation will address these topics in highly practical ways, as well as discuss the degree of directiveness versus nondirectiveness best adopted by therapists in couples work and the importance of the therapist using amplified or deamplified emotional expressions to help members of a couple optimally amplify or de-amplify their own emotions for relational benefit. References to compatible evidence-based couples therapy procedures will be included and case vignettes will be utilized throughout the presentation to maximize the practicality and usability of the ideas covered.




Enrico Gnaulati, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist based in Pasadena, California and an Affiliate Professor of Psychology at Seattle University. He has published numerous journal and magazine articles and his work has been featured on Al Jazeera America, China Global Television Network, KPCC Los Angeles, KPFA Berkeley, WBUR Boston, and online at the Atlantic and Salon, as well as reviewed in Psychology Today, Maclean's, the Huffington Post and the New Yorker. He is a nationally recognized reformer of mental health practice and policy and the author of Back to Normal: Why Ordinary Childhood Behavior is Mistaken for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (Beacon Press, 2013) and Saving Talk Therapy: How Health Insurers, Big Pharma, and Slanted Science are Ruining Good Mental Health Care (Beacon Press, 2018).

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