In Collaborative Couple Therapy, loss of voice is substituted for resistance as the key pathological element. Loss of voice precludes expression of heartfelt feelings – the partners’ underlying longings and fears. We take the fight that is occurring at the moment and, by discovering the partners’ heartfelt feelings, transform it into a moment of intimacy and induce a collaborative spirit. This turns the relationship into a curative force for solving the couple’s moment-to-moment relationship problems and each partner’s family-of-origin problems.


A defining feature of this approach is a recognition of how therapists grapple with the same problems the partners do: being pulled into adversarial states, where they lose the ability to appreciate each partner’s point of view, or into withdrawn states, where they lose the ability to engage at all. The task of therapists is to recognize their reactions as clues to the relationship problem of the moment, which is the partners’ inability to express their heartfelt feelings.


Collaborative Couple Therapy is based on a form of psychotherapeutic thinking developed by Bernard Apfelbaum (www.bapfelbaumphd.com). The term “collaborative therapy” is borrowed from Harold Goolishian and Harlene Anderson (www.harlene.org ). For the most recent version of Collaborative Couple Therapy see:

Wile, D. B. (2002). Collaborative couple therapy. In Gurman, A. S. & Jacobson, N. S (Eds.). Clinical handbook of couple therapy, Third edition. New York:Guilford, pp. 281-307.

Wile, D. B. (2011) Collaborative couple therapy.  In Carson, D.K. & Casado-Kehoe, M. (Eds.) Case studies in couples therapy: Theory-based approaches. New York: Routledge. pp. 303-316.


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