Dan Wile, beloved husband and therapist, died on March 18th, 2020.
August 3, 1938 – March 18, 2020
Daniel B. Wile, nationally and internationally known founder and developer of Collaborative Couple Therapy, died in his Oakland home on Wednesday, March 18, after a long struggle with heart failure. With a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966, Dan went on to a distinguished career as a teacher, author, and therapist.
Dan Wile’s impact on the field of couples therapy in America stems in large part from three books: Couples therapy: A nontraditional approach (1981), After the fight: using your disagreements to build a stronger relationship (1993), and After the honeymoon: how conflict can improve your relationship (revised 2008). Dan rarely missed a morning’s writing session, revising each paragraph until it shone with clear and vivid prose. At the time of his death, he had completed an advanced draft of what he saw as his most significant written legacy, “Solving the moment: a collaborative couple therapy manual.” In accordance with his wishes, Dorothy Kaufmann, his wife and colleague, will be preparing a final version of his book in the coming months.
Dan participated in the training of graduate students in the Clinical Psychology Program at UC Berkeley as they learned to do couples therapy and he co-taught the primary couples therapy course for three years. He gave training workshops in the U.S. and internationally over several decades, a seminal influence on many generations of clinicians. With his wife, he also gave workshops for couples all over the country.
Dan developed a signature method he called doubling, talking for each partner in the couple as if her were that person, reframing their attack or withdrawal in words that would foster an intimate conversation between them, the primary goal of Collaborative Couple Therapy. His theory and practice empowered clients to have their say about every aspect of their therapy, giving the therapist the benefit of each partner’s input. In creating a more equal, less hierarchical relationship between the therapist and partners, he modeled a relationship of equality within the couple.
Dan was a mensch, radiating a quality of goodness that could be felt by everyone in his presence. He wore his kindness and calm temperament lightly, with wry humor.
Surviving Dan is his wife Dorothy Kaufmann, whom he met in 2007, her son Steven, his sister and brother-in-law, Eleanor and Stephen Bulova, their children, Peter Bulova and Susan O’Donnell, and his former wife, Joanne Wile.
A memorial service celebrating Dan Wile’s life will be held in the late fall or early spring, when it is safe to gather together.
DAN’S NEW BOOK: As his work evolved, Dan made significant changes to his book, Solving the Moment: A Collaborative Couple Therapy Manual We intend to publish it within the coming year. Updated information will be available on this website.
Dan practices in Oakland, California. He has forty years experience as a couple therapist, gives workshops throughout the country on Collaborative Couple Therapy, and has authored three books and numerous articles on couple therapy and psychotherapeutic theory.
John and Julie Gottman talking about the Dan Wile technique
“I love Wile’s writing and thinking. They are entirely consistent with many of my research findings. I think that Wile is a genius and the greatest living marital therapist. I am blessed to have been able to exchange ideas with him.”
John Gottman, Ph.D