612 – The Last-Chance Couple

Saving Relationships on the Eve of Destruction
Peter Fraenkel

Unhappy couples often present in ways that offer little promise their relationship can be saved, leaving the partners feeling helpless and the therapist feeling stumped. But hope can spring anew when we have a toolbox of techniques to help these couples interact in different ways, turning even the most toxic marriage, full of disdainful feelings, into one of positive growth. In this workshop, we’ll use recorded demonstrations that focus on four types of last-chance couples, and show how to engage them in transforming their relationship. You’ll discover how to:

  • Restore hope by making immediate alterations in how couples communicate, and offering reconciliation activities that reframe problems into unappreciated assets
  • Carry out a nonthreatening first session by honoring ambivalence, inviting partners to evaluate the therapy, and creating a nonbinding, session-by-session contract
  • Offer strategies—like the reflective listening technique Beginning Anew, or the sensual 60-Second Pleasure Point—to safeguard communication and restart passion


Peter Fraenkel, PhD, is a psychologist, associate professor of psychology at the City College of New York, and former director of the Center for Work and Family at the Ackerman Institute. He received the 2012 American Family Therapy Award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Peter Fraenkel is in private practice.  He is director of the Ackerman Institute for the Family’s Center for Work and Family.
Non-financial: Peter Fraenkel has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

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