408, 508 – To Stay or Go?

Working with the Mixed-Agenda Couple
William Doherty

Parts 1 & 2

It’s not easy when a couple enters treatment unsure about whether to dissolve a marriage or try to save it—especially when each partner leans in a different direction. These mixed-agenda couples present challenges for even the most skilled couples therapist, particularly since successful therapy usually depends on both partners being at least nominally invested in working on the relationship. This workshop will demonstrate an approach called Discernment Counseling that helps partners develop clarity and confidence about whether to divorce or work on their relationship in therapy. You’ll discover how to:

  • Identify mixed-agenda couples and avoid common mistakes in treatment, such as siding with the distancer
  • Help both parties own their contributions to the marital problems and weigh the pros and cons of exiting the marriage or trying couples therapy
  • Develop a detailed protocol of joint and separate conversations with spouses to clarify each partner’s goals
  • Explore with couples what they can learn from the crisis of divorce

Continued with workshop 508


William Doherty, PhD, is a professor and director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota. His books include Take Back Your Marriage, Take Back Your Kids and Medical Family Therapy with Susan McDaniel and Jeri Hepworth.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: William Doherty is professor at the University of Minnesota. He has a relationship with The Doherty Relationship Institute.
Non-financial: William Doherty is a Fellow for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

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