Course Registration Now Open!

Badge_NTInAction-EscapeBlameEscaping Blame: Helping Couples Develop Account-ability with Larry Zucker, LCSW, has been in development for over a year. We are very excited to share the six lessons with you. The course draws from a range of multi-media resources with built-in opportunities to interact with Larry and with each other. Each lesson captures some of Larry’s best teaching moments and then demonstrates the practices with clips from simulated interviews. We also explore transcripts, and provide exercises to try out ourselves. Best of all, every lesson will include a live webinar, the recording of which can be reviewed as often as you like.

The course officially opens in September, with its first webinar on Sunday, September 25, 2016 (5pm NYT). As a sneak preview, the first lesson is now available, with the others soon following. The fee is $150 or $125 reduced fee for students and people on fixed incomes. For an additional $20, registrants can earn 12 APA approved CE credits through Alliant International University.

Brief Course Introduction

Building in Interaction

It is my hope to create as interactive a course as possible, so we are creating as many avenues for interaction as possible, including encouraging taking the course in partnership, active participation in the discussion forum and in the six webinars during the run of the course itself.  If you’ve ever participated in Reauthoring Teaching’s Collab Salon, you know how fun a video webinar can be. Larry Zucker

Larry Zucker

Larry Zucker

We are delighted to welcome Larry Zucker, LCSW, as course faculty.  Larry has been practicing therapy and training therapists for over 30 years.  His background in social work and community organizing led him to see people in context, and to focus on strength and resiliency.  He is committed to escaping blaming frames of reference in a field that encourage therapists to see people and relationships as problematic.  He prefers seeing people as embedded in normal problems of living, full of untapped skill and knowledge for creating the lives and relationships they want, despite difficulties encountered, and to seeing therapy as a relationship that helps bring forth that knowledge. To learn more about Larry, click here.

Register Now!

  • Please ignore the date/time for this course. Once you sign up, you will have ongoing access to materials. The only dates are for the live webinars - you can also watch the recordings anytime.
    January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2030
    12:00 pm - 11:55 pm

Registration for this self-paced course is open and ongoing.

Add Certificate of Completion $20

When you purchase the course:

  • We will do our best to pair you up with a partner with whom to move through the course, and to take the exercise at the end of each lesson.
  • As soon as the course is ready, you will receive an email with the link to the correct page for beginning the course.
  • If you sign up for the CE Certificate, simply pass the optional quiz at the end of the course; email your quiz  confirmation here, and we will send you a Certificate of Completion for 12 hours.

Course Description

Badge_NTInAction-EscapeBlameMany couples appear in our offices to debate the causes of their unhappiness, appealing to us as would-be judges, mediators, or referees. We listen as they subtly or egregiously assign blame, each to the other, for the relationship’s struggles and its members’ unhappiness. We’d like to help them leave blame behind, but often we merely spread it around: They come in blaming each other, and they leave blaming the families who raised them, the neurobiology they were born with, their own alleged lack of relational skills, or us if we prove unhelpful. We often encourage this blame with our causal theories about why they’re struggling, and we often blame them if we can’t find ways to be helpful.

What would it look like if we could truly escape blame as a way of talking about our lives? What sort of conversation would take its place? And to what end? Blame is an individual skill that allows us each—therapists included—to allege and assign causes for the unhappy present. Account-ability is a relationship skill that allows us to come to a shared understanding of what future we might prefer, and what stands in the way of that future. This course is about the conversations that are possible when Accountability emerges as practice distinct from Blame, and what we can do as therapists to nurture that distinction.

Course Objectives

Participants will:

  1. Gain perspective on how narrative practice with couples stands in relation to other models
  2. Learn to clearly distinguish blame from accountability and debate from conversation
  3. Develop skill at interrupting debate and inviting rich conversation
  4. Practice eliciting couples’ knowledge about problematic practices in their relationships, and about the effects of those practices
  5. Unpack prior training that encourages therapists to take positions vis-à-vis the problem, and develop skill at inviting couples to do so instead
  6. Practice drawing out the couples’ wisdom about who and what supports the problematic practices in their relationship instead of supporting them
  7. Explore a line of inquiry that helps couples reconnect to their dreamed-of relationship, clarify what their relationship is for, and helps them reclaim, borrow, and invent relational practices that support these purposes
  8. Develop conversations that connect or reconnect couples to the people and ideas that DO line up with their relational intentions.

Course Webinars

We have scheduled a webinar for each lesson associated with this course. Each webinar will  last about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, and will follow the sequence of the course.  We will record and post all webinars for registrants to review, and then join the conversation. The following dates/times are posted in New York time zone. Please consult your world clock for the time for you. Registrants sign up when you can make a commitment to come!

  1. Lesson One: Getting Situated – Sunday, September 25, 2016 @ 5pm NY time;
  2. Lesson 2: Influencing the conversation – Sunday, October 9, 2016 @ 5pm NY time;
  3. Lesson 3: Developing a relational vocabulary – Sunday, October 30, 2016 @ 5pm NY time;
  4. Lesson  4: Couples as experts on problems – Sunday, November 13, 2016 @ 5pm NY time;
  5. Lesson 5: Couples as expert dreamers – Sunday, November 27, 2016 @ 5pm NY time;
  6.  Lesson 6: Couples as activists for their preferred relationship – Sunday, December 11, 2016 @ 5pm NY time.

Lesson Descriptions

Lesson One: Getting Situated

Lesson Description: We begin by introducing Larry,  the course and course registrants. Together we’ll explore how our beliefs about why people consult us shape our sense of our role. We’ll examine the invitations into problematic roles for therapists that are embedded in traditional models, where traditional training can invite us into educative, manipulative, or paternalistic positions, when as narrative therapists we’d prefer collaborative ones. We’ll identify the beliefs and assumptions of narrative therapy that can help us maintain our preferred positions. Guided by: Larry Zucker, with a focus on the work of  Michael White and David Epston.

Lesson Two: Influencing the conversation

No_NTInAction_02Lesson Description: We explore how couples often invite us into judging, refereeing, evaluative or other “truth determining” positions, and we’ll learn some ways to move the conversation away from these traps and towards conversations that are more useful and generative. This will include negotiating permission to interrupt, learning about the couple apart from the problem, eliciting hidden pockets of empathy for each other, and making relationship and its practices and purposes—and not the flawed other—the central subject of inquiry. Guided by Larry Zucker with a focus on the work of David Marsten, David Epston, Laurie Markham, Sallyann Roth & Bill Madsen.

Lesson Three: Developing a relational vocabulary

No_NTInAction_03Lesson Description: Couples come to us needing to make new sense of profoundly complicated or painful experiences. Blame is a thin account of causal responsibility, assigned by each person as an act of individual power. (As therapist we do this as much as more as our clients.) Account-ability, hyphen intended, is our emerging ability to develop a rich, shared account of complex, inter-subjective experience. We often lack easily accessible knowledge of the difference between the two, and we hunker down in defensive positions. We will focus on how to listen for and draw out the desire for a richer shared accounting that is seems absent, but is implicit in the rejection of blame. Guided by Larry Zucker

Lesson Four: Couples as Experts on Problems

No_NTInAction_04Lesson Description:Once our conversations have moved past “the other as the problem,” we begin to discover just how knowledgeable our clients are about their relationship problems by focusing on their understanding—rather than ours—of how their problems emerge and operate, of what methods their problems use, and of what resources their problems depend upon to sustain themselves. Guided by Larry Zucker.

Lesson Five: Couples as Expert Dreamers

No_NTInAction_05 Lesson Description:We learn to focus on behavior, as it is a poor indicator of what people desire. Instead, we practice developing conversations that revolve around intention. We discover how, when asked the right questions, people are amazingly clear about their hopes and dreams for the relationship, about what they would want it to provide them at this point in their lives, about what it needs from them to do so, about how their relational needs have changed over the course of this or prior relationships, or even about how what is relationally possible has changed across generations and/or cultural contexts. Guided by Larry Zucker.

Lesson Six: Couples as activists for their preferred relationship


Lesson Description:Previously, we focused on the couples’ expertise about how problems sustain themselves. Now we draw on their knowledge of preferred relationships found in the world around them, and on how to draw support from the people who surround them, preceded them, might follow them, and have inspired them. And we help them come to see themselves as a source of support for others with similar hopes and dreams. Guided by Larry Zucker.