Intensive Training for Mental Health Professionals

Five-Day Intensive Training in the Pragmatic/Experiential Method for Improving Relationships

April 17-21, 2019

Spend five days learning the Pragmatic/Experiential Method, a step-by-step approach that translates advances in neurobiology and relationship science into practical methods for improving relationships. Through viewing and discussing videos of Dr. Atkinson’s therapy sessions, reviewing critical steps involved in specific interventions, and engaging in skill-building simulations, you’ll learn how to help clients 1) realize that they have the power to transform their relationships regardless of their partners’ current levels of motivation, 2) develop the core set of habits that have been scientifically proven to increase “partner-responsiveness,” 3) learn how to regulate internal states that interfere with the ability to implement these habits, and 4) become motivated to engage in practices that recondition automatic internal reactions and enable the formation of new habits. Whether you do couples therapy or individual relationship counseling or coaching, you’ll leave this training with more confidence and ability to help people improve their relationships. The Couples Research Institute is authorized by the State of Illinois to offer 30 continuing education credits for this training.


Through lecture, discussion and viewing videotaped segments of therapy sessions, participants will learn how to:

  • tune in to the hurt and/or frustration each partner has experienced in the relationship, and convey understanding and empathy in a way that generates confidence that the therapist “really understands what it’s like to be me in this relationship.”
  • ask specialized questions that elicit detailed information about each partner’s problematic relationship habits along with an abundance of examples that can be used to help the clients understand the changes they need to make.
  • use information gathered to present a compelling case to each partner for a) why his/her own attitude and conduct over time has contributed just as powerfully to the depleted condition of the relationship as has his/her partner’s, and b) why it is in his/her own best interest to assume mutual responsibility.
  • help each partner develop a clear picture of the changes s/he needs to make in order to a) interact with his/her partner in ways that are characteristic of people who know how to get their partners to treat them well, and b) avoid interacting with his/her partner in ways that are predictive of poor relationship outcomes.
  • talk to clients directly about their dysfunctional habits in ways that help them avoid feeling shamed and/or defensive, and generate excitement about the prospect of learning more effective ways of relating to their partners
  • help partners engage in practices designed to recondition their brains for more flexibility, enabling needed changes to occur.

Click here for a more detailed description of the training.

Click here for an outline of topics covered during the 5-day training.

Participants are encouraged to read Dr. Atkinson’s book, Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships prior to beginning the intensive week of training. During the training, you’ll learn how to use various digital technologies to strengthen your therapeutic impact. You’ll learn how and when to generate personalized handouts and exercises for your clients, using handouts and exercises from the book, Developing Habits for Relationship Success.

Training Schedule:
Wed-Sat (April 17-20): 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM;
Sun (April 21): 8:30 AM – 12 PM

Training Location:
The Couples Research Institute
The Five Hundred Building, 1250 Executive Place
Geneva, Illinois 60134

REGISTRATION: Click here to register now.

For information about the logistics of the training, call or email Lori Ross: 630-232-7457, ext. 115.

For more information about the content and process of the training, contact Brent Atkinson.