Upcoming Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink [In-Person]

This full-day training will be presented in-person at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. Course time includes a break for lunch. Food will not be provided.

Therapy with couples on the brink of relationship dissolution involves special challenges. Couples present with high levels of disdain, low motivation, and hopelessness. One or both partners may be highly ambivalent about engaging in therapy and may be reluctant to try new and more positive interaction styles for fear that progress may trap them in the relationship. Social and personal justice issues around power often play a role in the couple’s distress.

This presentation will provide a science-based integrative approach to working with last chance couples. A taxonomy of five types of last chance couples will be described: High conflict couples; those in which there has been a value or safety violation (interpersonal violence, infidelity, substance overuse); couples where partners have mismatched personal timelines/life goals; couples with little to no passionate connection; and couples in which a partner feels the need to pursue further psychosocial and sexual development outside the relationship. Research-supported techniques for establishing a therapeutic alliance and contract will be described. Clinical vignettes will illustrate effective techniques drawn from a multi-perspectival approach (the Therapeutic Palette and Creative Relational Movement Approach) to couple therapy that integrates systemic, cognitive-behavioral, structural, intergenerational, attachment, experiential, psychodynamic, neuroscience, and existential perspectives and practices.

Learning Objectives:

  • To list the five types of Last Chance Couples
  • To list three essential practices for creating a non-binding, non-coercive first session and a flexible, collaborative therapy contract that honors partners’ ambivalence about the relationship and therapy
  • To describe the five principles of the Creative Relational Movement approach to change and the three “primary colors” or choice points of the Therapeutic Palette Integrative Approach (time frame focus, level of directiveness, and change entry point) to couple therapy) and how to apply these approaches to last chance couples


Peter Fraenkel, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology at City College of New York; former faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and NYU Medical Center; and is in private practice in New York City. He has published on a wide range of topics, including integrative approaches to therapy; is the author of Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink (2023, Norton) and Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (2011, Palgrave-Macmillan). Fraenkel lectures and conducts therapist trainings internationally. He received the American Family Therapy Academy’s 2012 award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy. He is on the Board and a former Vice President of AFTA, and a reviewer for several family therapy journals.

Return to Workshops

  • September 29, 2023
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Peter Fraenkel, PhD

5 CE Contact Hours

Location:   Ackerman Institute for the Family

936 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, New York, 10010, United States


936 Broadway, 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10010

Details Price Qty
Tuition $200.00 (USD)  

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