Reactive Couples: A Relational Approach

Clinicians frequently encounter couples where past experiences of relational trauma are actively informing current reactive behaviors and patterns of interaction. Drawing on the work of The Ackerman Institute’s Center for Children and Relational Trauma, and using two clinical cases as the centerpiece, this workshop will illustrate the principals of practice and clinical choice points that allows for a couples therapy where the complex experiences of both members of the couple are explored, challenged, and interrupted.

This is an opportunity for participants to learn the thinking that leads to a line of questioning , the making of one clinical choice over another, and the conducting of a session where each member of the couple feels understood and safe enough to be challenged.

Learning Objectives:

  • To explore the intersection of their trauma histories and their current relationship
  • To unpack and deescalate arguments
  • To intervene to move the couple from reactivity to reflection


Fiona True, LCSW, is a member of the teaching faculty of the Ackerman Institute for the Family. She directed the International and Community training program for twelve years. In this role she developed programs in Hong Kong, Chile, Argentina, and Japan. For the last 20 years she has been a member of the “Making Families Safe for Children Project”, a clinical research project that has developed a treatment program for families where intra-familial sexual abuse as the presenting problem. The project additionally developed a family based treatment model for adolescent boys who have offended. Since 2004 she has co-directed the Center for Children and Relational Trauma.

Marcia Sheinberg, LCSW, is Co-Director of Ackerman’s Center for Children and Relational Trauma. She was the former Director of the Ackerman Institute Training Program (1995-2016). She is the founder and Director of the Institute’s Interfamilial Sex Abuse Project and is co-author with Peter Fraenkel of The Relational Trauma of Incest: A Family-Based Approach to Treatment, (Guilford, 2000). An advisory editor for Family Process, Ms. Sheinberg has published widely in professional journals on the treatment of chronic illness in the family, the role of gender in relationships, the treatment of obsessional disorders, domestic violence, larger systems, incest, and clinical innovations in couples and family therapy. She is an internationally recognized therapist and lecturer and regularly presents in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the U.S. and Canada.

Date / Time:

Friday, February 14, 2020
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Continuing Education:

5 CE Contact Hours

Register Online:

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