The Couple’s Toolbox: Key Skills and Ideas to Prevent Conflict and Strengthen Relationships

High levels of conflict and mutual alienation wreak havoc on the lives of couples and their children. Couples need more than an understanding the historical and intrapsychic sources of their problems – they need concrete skills and perspectives to manage the inevitable challenges of a life together in a manner that prevents destructive conflict, and that enhance pleasurable connection. Based on the latest distress and divorce prevention research, this workshop will provide a practical set of tools and ideas for all those who work with couples.

Workshop participants will learn how to help couples communicate and solve problems effectively, identify expectations and hidden themes, strengthen commitment, create and preserve time together, soothe deeper, longstanding hurts, modulate powerful emotions through mindfulness practices, and rebuild friendship, fun and sensuality. These techniques are useful for couples at all levels of satisfaction or distress, whether formally married or not, and at all stages of the life cycle. The special techniques for working with “last chance couples” – those on the brink of relationship dissolution – will also be addressed, including how to engage couples to “experiment with possibilities” even when one or both partners’ levels of hope and motivation are low.

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will be able to list the research findings on the four major problem patterns in couple communication
  • Attendees will be able to describe and demonstrate how to coach couples in communication and problem-solving skills as well as two mindfulness techniques for modulating difficult emotions
  • Attendees will be able to list four practices for couples that enhance pleasure and connection


Peter Fraenkel, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at The City College of New York, a former faculty member at the Ackerman Institute, and in private practice in New York City. He received the American Family Therapy Academy’s 2012 award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy. Dr. Fraenkel is the author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (2011, Palgrave-Macmillan), a forthcoming book on “Last Chance Couple Therapy”, and author of numerous other publications. Dr. Fraenkel has conducted workshops throughout the world. He is a former member of the Board of Directors and is an Advisory Editor for the journal Family Process, a Contributing Editor and presenter for The Psychotherapy Networker, and past Vice President of AFTA.

Date / Time:

Friday, March 13, 2020
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Continuing Education:

5 CE Contact Hours

Register Online:

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