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Our Approach

The Couples Clinic was founded after years of research and development, culminating in a specific method for helping couples improve their relationship, the Pragmatic/Experiential (PEX) Method for Improving Relationships. You can read about the experiences of several couples with the method in the following articles:

The PEX Method translates new discoveries in the fields of neurobiology and relationship science into practical strategies for improving relationships. This method for improving relationships is detailed in the books, Emotional Intelligence in Couple Therapy, and Developing Habits for Relationship Success, and is used widely by therapists across the country.

A series of landmark studies in the past three decades have identified exactly what people who succeed in their intimate relationships do differently than those who fail. Researchers discovered a core set of emotional habits that are so powerfully positive that, when people have them, they end up having satisfying long-term relationships over 90% of the time. This kind of predictive validity is virtually unheard of in most branches of science, and has captured the attention of educators across the country, spurring the development of courses that teach this core set of habits that are so highly predictive of relationship success. Most people believe their habits will enable them to succeed in their relationships, but available evidence suggests that this is wishful thinking. Studies suggest that most people don’t meet the prerequisites for relationship success. It’s not surprising then, that half of all people who marry in the U.S. eventually divorce, and at least half of the couples who stick it out are unhappy with their relationships. Most of us don’t have the habits needed to make our relationships succeed over the long haul. In fact, most people don’t even know what these crucial habits are. At the Couples Clinic, we will help you and your partner more fully develop these emotional habits that are so highly predictive of relationship success.

The attitudes and behaviors necessary to succeed in relationships are easy to understand and learn, but can be very difficult to do, because, at key moments, you may find yourself in a state of mind that isn’t compatible with the needed behavior or attitude. In order to change your thinking or behaviors, you must develop the ability to get into the right frame of mind for the task. Marriage researchers have discovered that, when a marriage is distressed, each partner generally reacts to the other during arguments in highly predictable and patterned ways. Thanks to some very helpful brain research in the past 15 years, we now know that this is because, across our lives, each of our brains gets conditioned to produce highly specific response programs. These are conditioned brain circuits that are pre-programmed so that, once triggered, they unfold as if they had a mind of their own, producing a predictable pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Brain researchers call these brain states “executive operating systems” or “intrinsic motivational circuits.” Ordinary people call them “states of mind” or “moods.” The important thing is not what they are called, but to recognize that these internal response programs can dramatically dictate how you interact with your partner. To improve your relationship, you will need to become familiar with the specific mood state patterns that happen inside of you during key intimate situations. Your best shot at acting differently comes when you develop the ability to shift internal states when needed. At the Couples Clinic, we will help you and your partner increase your abilities to shift out of mood states that often propel you into non-productive fighting.

The PEX Method helps each partner build the skills of emotional intelligence. In our couples therapy and seminars, each partner uses information and exercises from the book, Developing Habits for Relationship Success, to develop new relationship habits. Couples Clinic therapists make use of a variety of digital tools to help clients recondition automatic tendencies that often take them in the wrong direction.  You can read a story about how one partner used this method in an article written by a Couples Clinic therapist for The Oprah Magazine.