Esther Perel’s Transformative Approach to Couples Therapy in Action was one day workshop
with three therapy sessions recordings and subsequent debate about the approach and
strategies used during the couples therapy.

I came across Esther’s work in the therapy room as my clients introduced me to her books and
TED’s talks online.

With an increasing number of clients who were facing a marriage break down, relational
difficulties, social anxiety, financial or material abuse, domestic violence or intimate partner
violence, discriminatory abuse, neglect or abandonment issues I realised that more eclectic
knowledge in this area would be beneficial. Ester is known as a couples therapy expert,
however, I learnt from her workshop that effective communication and healthy as well as
realistic expectations can be promoted and practised not only in couples therapy.

I was curious to learn about her couples therapy style and approach and equally eager to
compare and contrast the RE-CBT style of therapy with her ideas of the couples therapy and
namely the concept of Relational Intelligence.

I gained an understanding of how to formulate and socialise the client to the concept of
Relational Intelligence by exploring number of skills the couples can learn to communicate
and listen to one another more effectively. That said, Esther stressed that these skills can be
applied to any type of communication. The key differences between hearing and listening,
reflective listening skills and role plays were discussed and demonstrated in her ‘live’
recordings and then discussed after each segment of the live session.

Throughout the live sessions I noticed the theme of acceptance in Esther’s couples work as
much as looking at different perhaps more innovative as well as challenging ways how people
can reconnect and engage in more constructive communication.

I believe that the key similarities of Esther’s approach to couples’ therapy and RE-CBT are
obvious in the theme of acceptance pioneered by Albert Ellis (ie. self-acceptance, other
acceptance and the world acceptance) and experimentation (ie. Socratic debating, role plays
and behaviour homework in and outside of the session). The therapy focus towards
philosophical not just emotional change regarding the clients’ perceptions about relationships
was also evident from the demonstrations observed.

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