Expired Last Chance Couple Therapy: An Integrative Approach to Working with Relationships on the Brink of Dissolution

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 workshop 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, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychology at City College of New York; former faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and NYU Medical Center. He 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 Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (2011, Palgrave-Macmillan), and of the forthcoming book Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink (2022, Norton). Dr. 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 a former Vice President of AFTA, and a reviewer for several family therapy journals.

  • October 29, 2021
    10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D.

3 CE Contact Hours

Location:   Online Event


A link will be emailed to you one day before the event. Online events are held in Eastern Standard Time (ET).

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