416 – Creating Safety with High-Conflict Couples

A Nonverbal Approach
Janina Fisher

High-conflict couples can stymie even the most experienced therapist, turning the office into a verbal boxing ring, and us into referees or speechless bystanders. When our usual ways of working don’t slow the battle, much less transform it, nonverbal approaches can help volatile couples move beyond their habitual escalations. This workshop provides simple interventions drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy that teach couples how to create safety and real intimacy in their relationships. You’ll discover how to:

  • Increase the ability of both partners to communicate using body language, gesture, and movement.
  • Inspire couples to practice new patterns of interacting that increase safety and intimacy, such as deliberately relaxing their bodies and pausing for ceasefires
  • Help highly reactive couples slow their pace and avoid confrontation by observing their physical and emotional responses to each other
  • Reframe clients’ reactivity as “triggering” rather than trying to assign blame for hurt and distressed feelings


Janina Fisher, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and instructor at the trauma Center in Boston, a senior faculty member of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a former instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Janina Fisher is in private practice. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Janina Fisher has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

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