Narrative In Action Series

Escaping Blame: Helping couples develop account-ability

Course Description

Many 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 the therapists who were unhelpful to them. And then, when it’s out turn to be unhelpful, we blame them in turn.

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.

Introducing Larry Zucker, LCSW

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.

Registration Open!

  • Regular: $150 USD
  • Student or Fixed Income: $125 USD
  • CE credit certificate: $25 USD
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Add CE Credit $25