Cognitive–Behavioral Couples Therapy

Cover of Cognitive–Behavioral Couples Therapy (medium)
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Format: DVD [Closed Captioned]
Availability: In Stock
Running Time: Over 100 minutes
Item #: 4310765
ISBN: 978-1-59147-455-5
Copyright: 2006
APA Psychotherapy Training Videos are intended solely for educational purposes for mental health professionals. Viewers are expected to treat confidential material found herein according to strict professional guidelines. Unauthorized viewing is prohibited.

In Cognitive–Behavioral Couples Therapy, Arthur Freeman demonstrates his approach to working with couples. This is a present-focused therapy that first looks at a couple's past experiences for ways to improve their interpersonal exchanges. Dr. Freeman works from a perspective that motivates a couple to stay together and helps them to focus on this and break away from past patterns of thought and behavior.

In this session, Dr. Freeman works with a couple having communication difficulties. In addition, because of busy work schedules, the demands of caring for a family of six, and past patterns of interaction, they find it hard to make time to spend together. Dr. Freeman helps foster better communication skills and works with them to focus on the future and move away from past patterns of blame, avoidance, and defensiveness.


Therapists often underestimate the challenges of working with couples, thinking mistakenly that it is like "individual therapy x 2." Couples bring to therapy a host of experiences because partners often come from different backgrounds and carry different interpretations of their relationship.

An added dimension in couples therapy is the dynamic created between the two people in the relationship: The challenge is not working with one person plus another but, rather, with the unique entity of the couple.

The goals of cognitive–behavioral therapy with couples are skill-building and skill-using, as one or both partners may not have the skills needed to make the relationship succeed; sometimes, if they do possess these skills, they choose consciously or subconsciously not to use them. If skill-using is the goal, often the therapist must work with the couple to figure out why they are not using the skills they possess.

The key skills of a successful couple involve communication and negotiations skills, but most important is the ability to accept each other, whether they agree with each other on a given opinion or behavior. The therapist may need to help the couple discover what values, beliefs, behaviors, or emotions are nonnegotiable—that is, what personality components partners simply have to accept in each other.

This approach follows five steps:

  • Identify positives in the relationship.
  • Identify difficulties in the relationship.
  • Meet with each member individually to talk confidentially.
  • Identify directions for the therapy: what the couple is able and willing to change.
  • Recommend a plan, to be enacted over the next 10 sessions.

If a therapist wishes to adopt this approach, Dr. Freeman recommends reading the literature on couples therapy and getting training and supervision in couples therapy.

About the Therapist

Arthur Freeman, EdD, is president of the Freeman Institute for Cognitive Therapy and director of clinical training and supervision for The Center for Brief Therapy, PC, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Prior to his move to Indiana, he was professor and chair of the Department of Psychology and director of the doctoral program in clinical psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has remained in the position of professor since his move. He has lectured in 25 countries over the past 20 years.

In addition to over 60 book chapters, reviews and journal articles, he has published 52 professional books (see Suggested Reading section) on the topic of cognitive–behavioral therapy. Dr. Freeman serves on the editorial boards of several U.S. and international journals.

He is board certified in clinical psychology, family therapy, and behavioral psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and licensed as a psychologist in Indiana. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (Society of Clinical Psychology as well as Psychotherapy and Family Psychology divisions), the American Psychological Society, the Academy of Clinical Psychology, and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.

Dr. Freeman is a past president of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy and was the vice president (2000–2002) of the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology. In 2000, the Pennsylvania Psychological Association named him recipient of its award for "Outstanding Contribution to the Science and Practice of Psychology."

Suggested Readings
  • Beck, A. T., Freeman, A., & Davis, D. D. (2003). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Freeman, A., & Dattilio, F. M. (Eds.). (1992). Comprehensive casebook of cognitive therapy. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
  • Freeman, A., Pretzer, J., Fleming, B., & Simon, K. M. (2004). Clinical applications of cognitive therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Company.
  • Reinecke, M. A., Dattilio, F. M., & Freeman, A. (Eds.). (2003). Cognitive therapy with children and adolescents: A casebook for clinical practice (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

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