Interactive/IFS Couples Group

The Interactive/IFS Couples group is for couples who want to enhance their relationship, learn to communicate skillfully, resolve conflicts, and deepen their intimacy.

An Interactive Group can help you . . .

  • Develop your capacity for intimacy and learn how to make a love relationship work
  • Become more assertive
  • Learn what you may be doing to keep your relationships from being satisfying
  • Learn how to deal with anger and conflict constructively
  • Become part of a loving community of people
  • Raise your self-esteem

You can learn these relationship skills:

  • Being in touch with your feelings and expressing them
  • Speaking for your parts, not acting them out
  • Reaching out to others confidently
  • Saying “No” firmly
  • Allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable
  • Expressing yourself forcefully and spontaneously
  • Being comfortable relating to a group of people
  • Asking for what you really want
  • Having the courage to bring up difficult issues
  • Empathizing with others

What Happens

  • You work directly on how you are relating to the other group members and your partner in the moment.
  • You get direct and honest feedback on how people are reacting to you.
  • The group provides a safe place for you to try out new, healthy ways of relating to your partner.
  • You learn how to feel your emotional responses and identify the parts that are activated while interacting with your partner and other group members
  • You learn how communicate openly, clearly, and assertively.
  • You discover your ways of relating that aren’t working for you, so you can experiment with changing them in the group.
  • You see other people struggling with problems similar to yours, and through this you learn about yourself and others.
  • There is a strong sense of support for each person and a warm feeling of community in the group.

Click here to Learn More about Interactive Groups

You will be doing interactive work with your partner and also with the other members of the group. When you do interact with your partner, you will get feedback afterwards from the other group members, so you can learn more about the dynamics of your relationship. You will also learn about your interpersonal patterns through the work you do with other group members, which will help you in your relationship.

I will periodically do some teaching about IFS, communication in conflict situations, and how parts trigger each other iinn couple’s arguments.

If you are having serious problems in your relationship, this group is not for you. Couples therapy would be more appropriate.


The groups meet by videoconference, so we all can see each other, which enhances the group connection. The groups meet twice a month, and you meet with me for an individual consultation on the group every 3 months. Each meeting is recorded, so if you miss one, you can watch the recording.

The groups are limited to 8 people. It is ongoing, so once you join, you are expected to attend all sessions until you choose to leave, though each session is recorded, so if you have to miss one, you can watch the recording.

Second and fourth Thursdays of each month
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Starts Oct. 13

Cost: $120/month/person, including consultations

Email me at for more information or to schedule a free pre-group interview.

Interactions Between Parts in Conflicts in Love Relationships

When a couples gets into a repeated intractable conflict in their relationships, it is usually because they are triggering each other’s protectors and exiles.

In fact, if you focus on the most frequent type of argument you have with your partner, you can map out the sequence of transactions that happens in which you trigger one of your partner’s parts, he or she reacts in a way that triggers yours, then you react again, and so on. IFS has an insightful way of explaining how these sequences happen, and I can make this even clearer using the Pattern System, a way of understanding personality that is oriented toward personal growth.

Let’s look at an example. Jean becomes upset at her husband, Todd, because she feels that he hasn’t been sensitive to her. She has been feeling despondent over her struggles at work, and Todd hasn’t been very supportive or attentive to her feelings. As a result, her Not-Seen Wound (a type of exile in the Pattern System) has been triggered. This wound comes from not being seen as who she truly was as a child.

However, it is rare that people interact directly from their exiles. Often they aren’t even aware that an exile has been triggered. Instead, people react from a protector that defends against the pain of the wound. So Jean says to Todd, “You are so cold! You never care about my feelings.” Jean has led with a judgmental protector (Judgmental Pattern), which reacts to pain by being critical of other people. This serves two functions. It tries to protect her from feeling her wound, and it is a misguided attempt to get Todd to be more attentive and caring.

Communicating from a protector (a pattern in the Pattern System) usually backfires. When Jean blames Todd in this way, it triggers his Judgment Wound, which comes from having been judged as a child, making him feel bad about himself. However, Todd isn’t aware of this wound and doesn’t show it. Instead, he withdraws from Jean and closes down his heart, which prevents him from feeling the pain of this wound and keeps him away from Jean so he won’t get hurt further. This is his Distancing Pattern.

Conflicts in Relationships

Todd’s withdrawal triggers a second wound in Jean; she feels abandoned by him (Abandonment Wound). Jean defends against this wound by criticizing Todd for withdrawing (Judgmental Pattern), which activates his Judgment Wound again. He reacts to this with more Distancing, so the cycle repeats itself. They often go around this cycle multiple times, escalating their level of anger and hurt in the process.

By exploring and understanding sequences like this in your relationship, and possibly working with the parts involved, you can break these vicious cycles.

Self-Therapy, Vol. 3

This is an excerpt from my book, Self-Therapy, Vol. 3.


As I was working with a group of therapists who are learning couples therapy we ran into a HOT TOPIC – infidelity and how to work with it.  The room was full of energy, charge, confusion, anxiety, overwhelm and the conversation lively.  Issues of judgment, morality, health issues, how to balance interventions.  The topic was loaded with the therapists’ beliefs and past personal experience.  For them, the issue of “infidelity” loomed larger than other issues that couples bring to therapy and these therapists felt unclear and somewhat intimidated by it all. [Read more…]