Become a Masterful Couples Therapist!
Becoming an expert couples therapist usually takes an entire career, but this fellowship will enable you to become masterful in two years.
- You will receive extraordinary couples therapy training while getting paid to do it.
- You will get an abundance of experience with couples, intensive training, and supervision in Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples (PET-C) from Dr. Brent Atkinson and other senior Couples Clinic Supervisors.
- You will set yourself on track to become a permanent part of a team whose innovative couples therapy methods are known and used around the world.
- January 15, 2023: The reviewing of applications begins. Applications will continue being received until all fellowship positions are filled.
- February 15, 2023: First fellowship offers are made.
- July 1, 2023: Fellowships begin.
This Two-Year Fellowship in Couples Therapy is ideal for:
- Therapists who have recently completed graduate degrees and need to accumulate experience and supervision required for full licensure.
- Therapists who are interested completing the fellowship and moving into full-time permanent therapists positions at the Couples Clinic.
(Licensed Therapists who are interested in becoming more expert in couples therapy, and who are wanting a career working at an established, well-known couples treatment can rea about our One-Year Couples Therapy Fellowships for Licensed Therapists.)
Overview of the Fellowship
- The Fellowship is designed to generate highly trained and competent therapists specializing in couples therapy. Fellows will have the opportunity to fulfill the supervision and clinical contact hour requirements for full licensure in the state of Illinois.
Description of the Fellowship Training Site
- The Couples Clinic and Research Institute in Geneva, Illinois is the home of an innovative team of therapists and researchers who have generated methods that are known and used by couples therapists around the world (thecouplesclinic.com/our-story). Each year, therapists come to Geneva to learn Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples. They work hard while also enjoying all that Geneva has to offer (Geneva is rated by World Atlas as one of the 15 most beautiful towns in America.)
Fellowship Candidate Selection Philosophy
- We believe that your personal qualities are more important than your experience. In fact, we do not expect you to have any experience in couples therapy. We are looking for therapists who have a passion for couples therapy and have a strong enough personality to hold the therapy room with distressed partners. We are also looking for individuals who are able to challenge and support clients at the same time.
Model of Couples Therapy
- We are the creators of Pragmatic/Experiential for Couples (PET-C). Detailed in our books, Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy: Advances from Neurobiology and the Science of Intimate Relationships, and Developing Habits for Relationship Success, our approach has been described by Oprah as “completely counterintuitive and wonderfully effective.” The editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy called it “a tour-de-force of scientific wisdom and sophistication.” Step-by-step, you will become masterful in implementing this highly integrative and comprehensive treatment model for couples.
Training and Supervision
- Supervision is the most intensive in the beginning, then gradually tapers off as you become more experienced with couples.
- In the first 6 months, you’ll receive 4 ¼ hours of individual supervision and 2 ½ hours of group supervision each week.
- In months 7-12, you’ll receive 3 ¼ hours of individual supervision each week, and 2 ½ hours of group supervision.
- In months 13-24, you’ll receive 2 hours of individual supervision and 2 ½ hours of group supervision each week.
- Throughout the Fellowship, your supervisor will:
- Listen to audio-recordings of your sessions, giving you moment-by-moment suggestions about how you can increase your effectiveness.
- Guide you through (and giving you feedback on) training exercises that help you…
- Identify key choice points in sessions, when moving one direction vs. another can make a big difference.
- Help you learn to use words and phrases that really get your clients attention and help them realize changes they need to make in very concrete ways.
- Develop the ability to give clients critical feedback without them feeling criticized.
- Examine the automatic reactions you have during sessions, understand where these automatic tendencies come from, and engage in practices that can re-wire them when needed.
- Understand the highly integrative nature of PET-C, and how it is similar and different to other couples therapy approaches.
- Teach you how to become adept at helping partners…
- Become willing to drop the upper hand and put themselves on a level playing field with their mates.
- Understand and assume responsibility for their mutual contributions to the depleted condition of their relationship.
- Experience genuine regret and remorse for the pain that they have caused each other.
- Come to grips with their perpetual differences, cut their losses, and get on the same page with a game plan for how to manage these differences more successfully in the future.
- Rewire the way their nervous systems react in emotionally charged situations.
- Navigate spontaneous disagreements better – replacing criticism, defensiveness and dismissiveness with more effective ways of getting their needs met.
- Avoid rabbit holes that lead to repetitive arguments.
- Create relational safety, allowing partners to open their hearts to each other, enabling feelings of warmth, tenderness, affection, playfulness, sexual interest and the desire for loving connection to emerge.
- Help you become skilled and efficient with the electronic medical records system and the fee monitoring and collection process,
- Help you learn how and when to use our vast collection of tools, exercises, protocols and audio recordings clients can use between sessions to increase the impact of your interventions.
- You will have continuous online access to the full collection of Dr. Atkinson’s teaching videos that give step-by-step guidance on how to facilitate every single aspect of the therapy process. Your supervisor will point you to the right video at the right time.
Expectations of Fellows
- Fellows are expected to conduct an average of 44 sessions per month during the first six months of the Fellowship, and a minimum of 40 sessions per month during months 7-24 (40 sessions per month is the minimum during months 7-24. Fellows are encouraged to conduct an average of 80 sessions per month).
- Fellows are expected to conduct therapy sessions during “prime time” hours: 4-10 PM weekdays; 8AM – 6 PM Saturdays and Sundays (unless some of these hours can be scheduled with clients who are available during daytime weekday hours).
- Fellows are expected to attend all training and supervision sessions as detailed in the Training and Supervision section above.
- Fellows are expected to record their counseling sessions for review during supervision.
- Fellows are expected to engage in role plays facilitated by the clinical supervisors.
- Fellows are expected to be open to understanding their own relational tendencies and the etiology of those tendencies.
- Fellows are expected to read and be proficient with assigned materials prior to the beginning of, and during, the Fellowship.
Fellow Pay and Benefits
- The Post-Graduate Fellowship is a paid 2 year position. Your total estimated compensation package across two years for a full-time Fellowship is $174,923.
- In the first six months, you will be classified as an independent contractor, and you will be paid a monthly stipend of $3333/month). You won’t be expected to carry a full-time caseload. Rather, you’ll be expected to average 44 sessions per month across the first 6 months. If you conduct more than the required number of sessions, you’ll get a bonus of $42 per session. If you conduct less than the required number of sessions, you’ll receive a deduction of $42.
- At month 7, you will convert from an independent contractor to a Couples Clinic employee and receive Couples Clinic benefits during the remainder of your fellowship (The Clinic will pay ½ of your Social Security and Medicare taxes and you’ll be eligible to enroll in an optional IRA plan in which the Couples Clinic makes the maximum allowed IRA employer contribution. You will also have the option of enrolling in the Couples Clinic health insurance plan). You’ll also shift from receiving a set stipend each month to getting paid a per-session rate which increases the more sessions you conduct. Full-time fellows who average 80 sessions per month during months 7-12 (20 sessions per week) receive a monthly pay of about $3975.
- At month 13, your per-session compensation will increase so that if you average 80 sessions per month (20 sessions per week) during months during months 13-24 you’ll receive about $4135 per month.
- The bottom line is that beginning with month 7, after conducting a minimum of 40 sessions per month, you get to decide how much more you want to earn by choosing how full you want your caseload to be. We always have a waiting list of clients who are wanting our services, so you can add more couples any time.
- In addition to pay for sessions conducted, the Fellowship training, supervision and benefits package is estimated to be worth $77,916 over two years. See the PDF titled, “2023-2025 Fellowship Compensation Package for more detail.
- Throughout the fellowship, the Couples Clinic provides liability and malpractice insurance.
- The fellowship plan offers the possibility for Fellows to receive all clinical supervision hours and client contact hours necessary for full licensure in Illinois.
- If you perform well during the 2-year fellowship, you’ll receive an invitation to join the Couples Clinic permanent team of therapists. You’ll earn approximately $70 per session. Depending on how hard you are willing to work, Full-time Couples Clinic Therapists can earn over $100,000 per year.)
Qualifications of Applicants
- The completion of a Master’s or PhD degree in Marriage & Family Therapy, Social Work, or Counseling by July 1, 2023 (special exceptions can be made for those graduating at the end of the summer 2023 semester).
- Completion of Levels 1 and 2 of the Online Training Program in Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples by the end of May, 2023.
- Interest in becoming a full-time Couples Clinic team member after completing the fellowship.
- An honest and sincere respect for relationships and a commitment to providing the best care possible.
Additional Preferred Qualifications (not mandatory)
- Knowledge of the major models of couples therapy.
- Sex therapy training
- Sex therapy education
- Knowledge of specific trauma models
- Experience with trauma therapies.
Application Procedures and Deadlines
- What about the Fellowship at the Couples Clinic is exciting to you?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What adjectives best describe your personality?
- What are you like in a group? How do people experience you?
- With any new endeavor in life, certain aspects will feel natural and easy, and others will feel difficult or frustrating. We learn about ourselves from how we respond to the challenging aspects. Please tell us about one of your endeavors. What aspects of your role came easily or naturally, and what aspects didn’t come as easily for you. How did you respond to the parts of your role that weren’t natural or easy for you to do?
- In this fellowship, you’ll receive lots of feedback about your personal habits of interacting with others, your habits of expressing yourself, and the way you organize and process thoughts and emotions. Have you ever received feedback on these sorts of things? Can you give an example? What do you think this feedback process will be like for you?
- Have you ever expressed a complaint to a supervisor or boss, or had a complaint but decided not to express it? (Please give an example). What was the decision-making process (to express or not to express) like for you? If you decided to express it, how did it go? What (if anything) would you do differently if you could do it over again?
- Do you believe that couples therapists should voice opinions about (and attempt to influence) dysfunctional communication and interpersonal habits evidenced by those involved in leadership and government? What is the biggest problem you have seen in leadership and government lately?
- If you were offered this fellowship – what would be your biggest hesitations in taking the position?
- Where do you envision yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
- What else should we know about you?
2. Email your resume or curriculum vitae (to firstname.lastname@example.org) along with the names and contact information of three supervisors or professors who you are willing to allow us to speak with about your qualities as a learner. In your email, tell us why you are interested in the Fellowship and why you think you would be a good candidate.
3. The Application Timeline
- January 15, 2023: The reviewing of applications begins. Applications will continue being received until all fellowship positions are filled.
- February 15, 2023: First fellowship offers are made.*
- July 1, 2023: Fellowships begin.
*Offers will be contingent upon the applicant completing of Levels 1 and 2 of the Online Training Program in Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples by the end of May, 2023.
Eight Reasons Why You Should Do This 2-Year Fellowship
- CUTTING EDGE: Over the past 40 years, we’ve developed an innovative treatment approach that is widely recognized and used by couples therapists throughout the world. Read what other leading couples therapists are saying about it at thecouplesclinic.com/our-approach. By the end of this Fellowship, you will have received three tiers of PET-C training. More importantly, you’ll receive expert guidance in implementing PET-C day-in and day-out, every week for 2 years.
- EFFECTIVENESS: At the Couples Clinic, effectiveness is one of our core values. Read about what our clients say about our results at: thecouplesclinic.com/our-results.
- SUPPORT: We are deeply invested in our fellows, and are available to them 24/7.
- COMMUNITY: This Fellowship gives you the advantage of being around skillful & experienced colleagues who will be mentoring you along the way. We love coming to work each day at the Couples Clinic because of the awesome people who work here! Each member of our group has been thoroughly vetted and chosen. As a result we have a fantastic team of therapists!
- EXPERIENCE: You will have the opportunity to receive the number of client hours you need for licensure in Illinois, and you’ll receive loads of supervision from Senior Couples Clinic supervisors. We’ll listen to recordings of your sessions and give you the kind of moment-by-moment guidance you need in order to really know what you’re doing.
- HOURS: Many therapists pursuing licensure really struggle to get in all of their supervision and relational client contact hour requirements within two years. Due to our reputation and years of excellent services, this will simply not be a problem for you, You won’t have to do ANYTHING to recruit clients. You simply need to be willing to conduct the number of therapy sessions needed for licensure.
- PAY: When all of the benefits are factored in – we estimate your total value of your compensation package to be worth over $174,923 for a two-year full-time commitment. This Fellowship is intended to train therapists who will likely become future Couples Clinic full-time therapists once the Fellowship has been completed. Post-fellowship Couples Clinic therapists earn a revenue split and can earn up to six figures. And all of this without having to worry about generating their own clients. It would be very hard to earn this kind of living anywhere else in this field.
- MEANING: You’ll have an incredibly meaningful job. Not only will you learn how to change the course of people’s lives for the better, you’ll also be part of a team of innovators who are changing the way couples therapy is done around the world. Every week we continue our work translating new scientific discoveries into practical methods for improving relationships. At the Couples Clinic, you will join a group of dedicated professionals who may very well be setting the standard for excellent couples therapy in the coming decades.
Download Information about the Couples Therapy Fellowship Program:
“Atkinson’s pioneering methods for rewiring automatic emotional processes in the brain are widely recognized.”
-Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy
“PET-C is the only approach that adequately addresses the problem of blame and contempt in the early stages of relationship recovery.”
– Filip Pavlinec — www.paarinstitute.ch (Swiss Institute for Relationships)
“Any couples therapists concerned about increasing their effectiveness and avoiding relapse need to master this powerful new approach!”
-Thomas C. Todd, Ph.D.,
Recipient of the award for Outstanding Contributions to Family Therapy, Theory, and Practice by the American Family Therapy Academy.
“Destined to be one of the most important books on couples therapy of this decade… A tour de force of scientific sophistication and clinical wisdom. Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy will be a classic!”
Douglas H. Sprenkle, Ph.D.
-Former Editor, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
-Recipient, AAMFT Award for Cumulative Career
Contribution to Family Therapy Research.
“The habits for relationship success illustrated in this book dramatically improved my own clinical work.”
-Teresa McDowell, Ed.D.,
Professor & Chair, Department of Counseling Psychology,
Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.
“Atkinson draws on the latest research into the behavior of couples in intimate relationships and the impact of the emotional brain on human interaction. He provides a specific step-by-step guide to developing habits that greatly increase the chances of having a successful, loving relationship.”
-Harvey Joanning, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus,
Iowa State University and Texas Tech University.
“Training with Dr. Atkinson has by far been the most rewarding investment of my career and honestly, toward my personal and relational health and happiness.
-Angie Tsiatsos Phillips, Director, Colorado Couples Clinic
“Brent Atkinson’s Pragmatic Experiential Method skillfully blends mindfulness practices with neurobiological discoveries and cutting-edge research about why intimate relationships succeed or fail. Brent is a master trainer and his 5-day workshop gives therapists all the tools they need to help clients function at higher levels when the smoke alarm goes off. Two thumbs up!”
-Diana Shulman, J.D, Ph.D.
Author of ABC’s of Love
Brent’s work and the work of the Couples Clinic as a whole is deeply grounded in the leading research in the field of marital distress and applicable to anyone who wants to learn to love well.”
-Kerry Lusignan, Director of the Northampton Center for Couples Therapy.
“This training was a GAME CHANGER. So much good, clear information that hones in on the aspects of couples’ work that is most effective in creating lasting change. I think the book [Developing Habits for Relationship Success] should be required reading for all clinicians and people in long-term relationships!”
-Kelley Watts, Psychologist, Houston, Texas
I highly recommend Brent’s trainings – they’ll make a big difference in your career and effectiveness as a couples therapist.”
-DJ Hilley, MSEd, LPC,
“Brent is a phenomenal therapist and mentor. I use his approach daily in my private practice and clients love the guidance and tools. His approach makes improvement feel tangible, not elusive like so many other approaches. Oh, and PS…. I believe I have an awesome marriage of 20+ years because of all I have learned from Brent!”
Founder of the Colorado Couples and Family Therapy Center
I often say that the PET-C would have been helpful for me to learn in my 20’s and would have made my first marriage go much better. His approach has helped me become a more confident person and much better able to manage conflict in healthy ways. I am grateful for what Brent developed and his contributions to the Marriage and Family Therapy field.”
-Mary Beth Harper, Founder, Collaborative Marriage and Family Counseling
“Over the last ten years I have asked Brent Atkinson to train my staff several times in his Pragmatic/Experiential Therapy for Couples. We decided that it is such a useful method that any therapist who wants to provide relationship therapy needs to have a working knowledge of PET-C. This model is complete, sophisticated and approachable.”
-Suzanne Drennan, Owner, The Psychology Center, Madison, Wisconsin
“As a psychologist and trainee in the Couples Clinic methods, I have integrated many valuable materials and concepts into my life as well as my work with couples. This is a comprehensive and transformational approach to healing relationships.”
-Jade Mueller, Ph.D.,
“I enrolled in a week-long intensive training seminar with Dr. Atkinson 10 years ago in Appleton, WI. I am now in the Houston Texas area and am in private practice. Dr. Atkinson’s Emotional Habits for Couples, 12-Step Summary for resolving conflicts, and Core Differences in personality are a part of almost every couple session that I facilitate. They make an amazing impact in the healing of the couples that I work with. Thank you, Brent!”
-Mary Lambrecht, Founder, Family Help Counseling