​​Monthly Masters Series in Couple Therapy: Seven More Approaches to Interviewing

  • ​This course is facilitated by Corky Becker, PhD with monthly guest presenters.
  • Dates:We meet from 6:45 pm to 9:30 pm EST one Wednesday evening per month from November 2021 to May 2022
  • NOTE: Times are Eastern Standard Time
Planning to be on Zoom allowed us to invite guest speakers from all over the U.S. and Canada:
  • ​Saliha Bava, PhD, LMFT:
    Relational Play in Couple Therapy
  • Monica Sesma, PhD, RSW, RMFT:
    Using Single Session Therapy with Couples
  • Mary Jo Barrett, MSW:
    Treating Interpersonal Violence and Complex Developmental Trauma in Couples Therapy
  • George Faller, LMFT:
    Using EFT with Escalated Couples
  • Arlene Lev, LCSW-R, CASAC II, CSTS:
    Coming Out as Trans or Nonbinary in Lesbian Relationships
  • Jill Freedman, MSW, LCSW:
    Using Narrative Ideas with Couples
  • Tammy Nelson, PhD, CST, LPC:
    Erotic Recovery after Infidelity


The event will be held live on Zoom.

Statement of Need

Doing couple therapy well is a complex task. The work is energizing, challenging and rewarding. Whether you are a veteran couple therapist or just putting your toe in, work with relationships brings unique challenges that requires specific and ongoing training. This course will deepen your learning, thinking, and practice through a focus on many styles of interviewing couples among diverse populations and presenting problems. The learning will also support individual work with people who bring in relational dilemmas.

About the Course

The eighth year of this highly popular, fun and exciting course conceived by Corky Becker, PhD, will provide participants with the opportunity to listen to, observe, dialogue and practice with several senior couple therapists. Invited guest faculty will present critical ideas that are foundational to their approach, do a live interview with a role play couple, and answer questions from participants. Course members will be encouraged to note specific practical learning and questions that arise as they watch the moment to moment unfolding of role play interviews.

Some class members will have the opportunity to learn by playing the role of a member of a demonstration couple. Role players will share with the group particular moments in the demonstration interview, from the perspective of the client, that helped them shift their position, emotions or behavior. CorkyBecker will facilitate a discussion focusing on questions and reflections about the demonstration. Participants will learn by hearing Corky and guest faculty reflect on key interventions, unpack micro moments in the sessions, compare similarities and differences among approaches, and learn from what class members find salient to apply to their own work. There will be opportunities for participants to connect in small groups, practice skills or discuss lessons learned.

​Outline for Each Meeting of the Course ~ 6:45 pm to 9:30 pm EST

  • Guest presenter will talk about critical ideas and practices that they use in working with couples - 6:45 pm to 7:15 pm (30 min)
  • Guest presenter will do a live demonstration of couple therapy with a role play couple - 7:15 pm to 7:55 pm (40 min)
  • Corky Becker will facilitate a discussion about what participants are learning, questions they have- 7:55 pm to 8:25 pm (30 min)
  • Break - 8:25 to 8:40 pm (15 min)
  • Participants will do small group practice exercises or discussion- 8:40 to 9:10 pm (30 min)
  • Final comments with large group to wrap up the learning: review of exercise and any remaining questions/comments to solidify the evening’s learning - 9:10 to 9:30 pm (20 min)

​Learning Objectives for the Course

  • Describe two interviewing skills learned in each evening of the course.
  • Compare interviewing skills demonstrated by senior couple therapists and discern when to use what approaches.
  • List four techniques for preventing or working with conflict.
  • Explain three different approaches for increasing connection and empathy in couples.
  • Identify two similarities among the approaches to couple therapy presented.
  • Identify two differences among the approaches to couple therapy presented.
  • Discuss how to ameliorate risks in treatment when there is trauma in the couple system from the lenses of sex therapy, EFT and The Collaborative Change Model.

Content and Speaker Description for Each Class

Corky Becker, PhD, the course director and facilitator, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in couple and family therapy with high conflict situations, including divorce. She has taught family and couple therapy in the Intensive Certificate Program in Family Systems Therapy and the Masters Series in Couple Therapy, and hosts Movie Night at Therapy Training Boston since 2009, and before that, at the Family Institute of Cambridge, since 1992. She has been involved in training Fellows in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, since 2009, co-teaching the first year Family Therapy seminar 2009-2017, and the Inpatient Family Therapy seminar, 2017-2020. She supervises and consults to therapists in these programs and privately. Corky has been active in AFTA as a board member, secretary and program chair. She worked with the Public Conversations Project, 1992-2016, which became Essential Partners 2016-2019, and was a consultant in the Interpersonal Skills Exercise at the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation, 1992-2017. Carol's original training as a couple and family therapist was at the Ackerman Institute in NYC.

Relational Play in Couple Therapy

November 3, 2021 with Saliha Bava


How do couples play? How do you play as a couple’s therapist? How might we view couples therapy as a creative activity of trial and error? How do we take play beyond a technique and make it a way of being? Drawing on Collaborative-dialogic practices, we will reflect on play, a relationally creative process, as improvised, spontaneous responsiveness to emergence. We will explore how to develop play as a presence and as a creative activity by focusing on the therapist’s social location and its interconnectedness to what arrives in the process of consultation. Participants will exercise their risk-taking and creativity in therapy by exploring their relationship to uncertainty and how to engage the emergent while being present to not-knowing, resonant naming, and context. We’ll draw on relational resources to explore how the consultative conversation is engaged play in couple therapy. The interactive workshop will challenge you to develop ways to be playfully serious and seriously playful at the same time.

Saliha Bava, Ph.D. LMFT is an Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Mercy College. She is the co-founder of the International Certificate Program in Collaborative-Dialogic Practices; serves on the advisory board of Taos Institute and as a doctoral advisor for the Taos PhD and Diploma Programs. She is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, served on the American Family Therapy Academy Board (2012-2017) and co-founded the International Journal of Collaborative-Dialogic Practices. As the Director of Research with the International Trauma Studies Program, NYC, she has researched theater, community resiliency and psychosocial practices & co-founded the Resilience Collective. Her focus on performative practices, dialogue as socially just and hyperlinked identities is part of her academic activism where she questions the dominant discourses of research methodology, training, social justice, and identity. Drawing on her relational play consultancy she co-authored The Relational Book for Parenting. She runs the Relational Play Lab at Mercy where she is currently focused on inclusion, uncertainty, and cultivating relational practices for engaging emergence through play/improvisation. Originally from India, Saliha lives and works in NYC. She maintains a consulting practice in NYC. Follow her @ThinkPlay

Using Single Session Therapy with Couples

December 1, 2021 with Monica Sesma, PhD, RSW, RMFT


In this workshop, participants will be immersed in the theory and practice of the single session therapy (SST) approach to working with couples. The inception of the SST was an adaptation providing immediate support to crisis and mental health needs in the community. It was designed to be readily accessible and affordable, minimizing access barriers. Couple therapy’s dominant practices situate the work with couples as a longer-term therapeutic process. Most common approaches conceptualize couple therapy as an ongoing service, usually sought by couples when their situation has become more complex, intense, and with a sense of hopelessness about moving forward. Single session therapy challenges the idea that couples cannot benefit from one therapeutic conversation. The focus of this class is understanding how the single session approach is practiced and helpful to support couple relationships. We will discuss this approach using case examples, modelling how SST works with couples, and critically examining how SST can enrich and improve participants’ preferred models of practice. This workshop will include lecture, interactive, discussion and practice components.

Monica Sesma, PhD, RSW, RMFT (She/Ella) is a social constructionist-oriented family therapist, educator, supervisor, and researcher. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Werklund School of Education and the Academic Coordinator of the Couple and Family Therapy Program at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. Monica practices at the Eastside Family Centre and at Calgary Family Therapy as a therapist and supervisor. Her primary therapeutic and research interest focuses on relational and systemic work with immigrants, refugees, and newcomers. She pursued studies (Bachelor, Master, and PhD) in Psychology at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and Universidad de las Americas, and completed a Master’s in Social Work with clinical specialization at the University of Calgary. Monica is a Board Member of the Taos Institute and the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the single session therapy approach.
  2. Analyze the use of the single therapy approach with multicultural couples.
  3. Critically examine how SST could enrich their current clinical practices and work with couples.

Treating Interpersonal Violence and Complex Developmental Trauma in Couples Therapy

January 5, 2022 with Mary Jo Barrett


This evening will focus on the Collaborative Change Model co-developed by Mary Jo Barrett which serves as a relational blueprint for the treatment of interpersonal violence and complex developmental trauma. We will explore the interactions between therapist and couple through a systemic- neurobiological lens including how cyclical interactions reveal themselves both in and outside of sessions. The demonstration will illustrate an interactional intervention in which the traumatic stress of both members of the couple recreates historical and present-day traumatic events of abuse and neglect. We will focus on intergenerational, historical, racial, and cultural traumatic experiences including how to integrate the effects of social/political vulnerabilities in the couple dynamic.

Mary Jo Barrett, MSW, is the Executive Director and founder of The Center for Contextual Change, Ltd. She is currently on the faculties of University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration, The Chicago Center For Family Health, and the Family Institute of Northwestern University. Ms. Barrett has been working in the field of family violence since 1974. She co-created the Collaborative Change Model, a highly contextual model of therapy used to transform the lives of those impacted by abuse and/or traumatic events. Ms. Barrett founded the Family Dialogue Project, which strives to redefine relationships with families impacted by allegations of abuse and trauma. Ms. Barrett’s newest book, Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change, co-authored by Linda Stone Fish captures over 25 years of interviews, describes the effective elements of therapy and how to organize the process. She is currently working on her latest book, We Are All in This Together: The systemic treatment of Complex Developmental Trauma.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the micro and macros recursive steps of the Collaborative Change model.
  2. Describe the vulnerability – survival cycle intervention when working with couples including social/political and familial vulnerabilities.
  3. Predict therapist traumatic stress reaction while in sessions.

Using EFT with Escalated Couples

February 2, 2022 with George Faller, LMFT


Participants will learn to identify effective interventions from the Emotionally Focused Therapy model to use in work with escalated couples. Participants will also learn to help couples create or restore the emotional bond between them once the negative cycle, and the attachment needs that drive it, has been understood. EFT will be described as a model that: offers a comprehensive theory of adult love and attachment with a process for healing distressed relationships, recognizes relationship distress as a result of perceived threat to basic adult needs for safety, security, and closeness in intimate relationships, and focuses on helping partners restructure the emotional responses that maintain their negative interaction patterns.

George Faller, LMFT, is a certified Trainer/Supervisor/Therapist in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and founder of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy where he serves as President. He is a Supervisor with the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy (AAMFT) and teaches classes at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in Manhattan. He is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist currently practicing in Connecticut and New York. George is the director of training at the Greenwich Center for Hope & Renewal in Connecticut and is on the Board of the Porter Cason Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans. Prior to a career in the field of mental health, George spent 20 years as a NYC Firefighter and NYC Police Officer. His experience as a FDNY Peer Counselor, particularly following the events of 9/11, sparked his passion to help those impacted by trauma.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify two key assumptions of attachment theory as it applies to adult relationships.
  2. List the assumptions, stages, and steps of EFT, as well as key change events.
  3. Articulate two key interventions that help clients to reprocess key emotional responses and reduce reactivity.

Coming Out as Trans or Nonbinary in Lesbian Relationships

March 2, 2022 with Arlene Lev


Despite the increasing public presence of transgender and nonbinary people, most therapists have had little training in working with this community. The majority of therapists trained as gender specialists, do not have systemic lens. This leaves trans and nonbinary people who are coming out with therapists who highlight “identity” and “authenticity,” and downplay the importance of familial relationships and partnerships.

When a partner comes out as trans or nonbinary within in the context of a lesbian relationship, there are complex issues to negotiate in terms of identity, language, and one’s “home” in lesbian and queer spaces. Partners experience great pressure to be “accepting,” with little space to grieve their losses. For many couples, public perception of being seen as heterosexual is particularly painful. Some trans and nonbinary people also struggle with their relationship to the lesbian community, and a complex mix of sadness and joy as they come home to themselves but lose their place in a community. For therapists who are cisgender and/or heterosexual, there may be challenges to understanding the unique systemic issues, complicating trust and safety.

Arlene Lev (Ari), LCSW-R, CASAC, CSTS is a social worker, family therapist, educator, and writer whose work addresses the unique therapeutic needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. She is the Founder and Clinical Director of Choices Counseling and Consulting providing individual and family therapy and the Director of TIGRIS—The Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality, a training program in Albany, New York. Arlene is a part-time lecturer at the State University New York at Albany, School of Social Welfare and is the Project Director of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Project (SOGI). She is also an adjunct at Smith College School for Social Work where she teaches Gender Studies and Empire College where she teaches Sex and Gender in a Cross-Cultural Perspective. She also lectures at the Rockway Institute, California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. She has authored numerous journal articles and three books: The Complete Lesbian and Gay Parenting Guide, Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working with Gender-Variant People and their Families, and Families in Transition: Parent Perspectives on Raising Gender Diverse Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults (with Andrew Gottlieb, Ed).

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify a minimum of two unique factors involved in coming out transgender and/or nonbinary within the context of a lesbian relationship.
  2. Describe a minimum of two skills and tools necessary to help couples negotiate the boundaries of gender and sexual orientation.
  3. Explain problems that may occur in the therapeutic relationship when the clinician is not familiar with lesbian and gender expansive communities.

Using Narrative Ideas with Couples

April 6, 2022 with Jill Freedman


In this presentation on using narrative ideas in working with couples Jill will begin with a description of key narrative ideas including the narrative metaphor. She will explain how narrative questions are as an intervention. She will then focus on creating a structure for narrative work with couples that you can use to help people understand and witness their partners’ stories. The purpose is to improve communication and connection around relational impasses. We will discuss the use of narrative questions to deconstruct problem stories and develop preferred ones. We will learn ways that questions can be used to develop a sense of relational identity. Jill will illustrate these ideas with stories and examples.

Jill Freedman, MSW, LCSW, Jill Freedman is the co-director of Evanston Family Therapy Center. She has an independent therapy practice and consults to social service agencies and schools. She has taught narrative therapy in a variety of international contexts, including as faculty for the low residency Masters Program in Narrative Therapy and Community Work of the University of Melbourne and Dulwich Centre in Australia. She has co-authored 4 books—Symbol, story and ceremony: Using metaphor in individual and family therapy; Narrative therapy: The social construction of preferred realities; Narrative therapy with couples…. And a whole lot more! and Strengthening resistance: The use of narrative practices in responding to genocide survivors.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe both indirect and direct ways of establishing a witnessing structure.
  2. Compare narrative questions to questions that gather information.
  3. Explain the narrative metaphor.

Erotic Recovery After Infidelity

May 4, 2022 with Tammy Nelson


This evening will focus on infidelity as an erotic injury to a relationship. You will learn several ways affairs impact couple relationships and their erotic life. Tammy will describe the steps to repair a committed partnership. This process has three phases of recovery from the key ways infidelity affects couples. You will learn practical strategies to help couples move from blame/betrayal to insight and pleasure to a new vision of a more passionate relationship. Using both sex and couple therapy techniques, we will examine the post-contemporary cultural paradigm of monogamy and the interventions for the conscious creation of a new couple dynamic, including the use of new monogamy agreements.

Tammy Nelson, PhD, CST, LPC , is a Boston based expert in couples and sexuality. Certified as a sex therapist since 1996 by AASECT (The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists), she is author of three books about sexuality and relationships, as well as professional articles and book chapters. Her book, "SexSmart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What to Do About It” won ForeWord Magazine's award for being one of the top three self-help books published that year. Her ideas have been cited in the professional literature since 1993, and she is recognized by her peers for her creative, active psychotherapeutic interventions. Creator of the interpersonal theory of sexual development, The Milestones of Sexual Development, Dr. Zoldbrod elucidates the many sexual and non-sexual developmental events which determine whether a person will be able to experience deep emotional and sexual connection and pleasure in relationship with the same person. She has been invited to teach at conferences throughout the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia for the past 27 years. She blogs at NewsMax.com on sexuality and relationships, and her website, www.SexSmart.com is a resource for clinicians and patients.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe both indirect and direct ways of establishing a witnessing structure.
  2. Compare narrative questions to questions that gather information.
  3. Explain the narrative metaphor.

Target Audience

This course is designed for helping professionals interested in the principles and practices of couple therapy, including, but not limited to, social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors and marriage & family therapists. The program serves the needs of beginning and intermediate clinicians with little to a moderate amount of formal couple therapy training who are or would like to work with couples and families. We also prepare advanced practitioners who take the course to deepen their knowledge, enhancing capacities for supervision, teaching, training, and administrative roles.


  • Registration:​ The cost for individual registration $775. Early registration available until for individuals is $750.
  • September 30, 2021 is the early registration deadline. Payment plans are available.
  • ​CEs: additional cost of $40 for CEs for the professions who are eligible and people who would like to access those.​ CE infomation below.
  • Black Therapists Rock, National Assn. of Black Counselors, NEAFAST Members and anyone else may contact us for an equity rate of $700
  • Please note: you must register for the course as a whole. Attendance at individual sessions of the course is not allowed to maintain the integrity of the learning group. Contact us ffor more information.

Registration Instructions

Please note the online system allows you to register and pay: using your Paypal account, using Paypal as a conduit to your credit card or provides instructions to mail a check. Please complete the online registration form at the link below even if you will be mailing a check for payment. Your space is not secure until payment is received.

Available CEs

ACEP Logo Participants MUST attend 100% of the program to earn the 18 CEs approved for eligible professions.

Therapy Training Boston is approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6707 for Mental Health Counselors. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Therapy Training Boston is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

  • Therapy Training Boston is approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6707 for Mental Health Counselors. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Therapy Training Boston is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • This program is certified by the New England Association for Family and Systemic Therapy (NEAFAST) on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for LMFT professional continuing education.
  • Application for social work continuing education credits have been submitted. Please contact us for the status of social work CE accreditation.
  • Application is being made for psychology CE credit approval with our new APA approved CE co-sponsor.

Please contact us for the status of social work CE approvals.

Read detailed information about CEs, here.

PLEASE NOTE: Twelve continuing education credits for IFS Institute certification renewal have been approved.

Cancellations and Refunds

No refunds are available for cancellations by participants regardless of the reason or time frame. If participants cancel 30 days or more prior to the event beginning, they may apply the fee to a future program. Workshops may be cancelled by Therapy Training Boston if minimum enrollment requirements are not met or in the case of other unexpected circumstances. If this occurs, a full refund will be provided.

Additional Information

Course content level: This workshop will provide important information for clinicians who are at an introductory or intermediate level of knowledge about working with grief and traumatic loss. Advanced practitioners are welcome to attend the event to deepen their knowledge of the subject for practice, supervision, teaching, and administrative roles..

Target Audience: This offering is relevant to all helping professionals including but not limited to social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, marriage & family therapists.

Commercial support and conflicts of interest: There is no commercial support for this program.


For all event policies read this, detailed CE information here.