When: Friday, May 19, 2023; 9am-4:30pm ET
Instructors: Liz Brenner, LICSW; Nancy Knudsen, LMFT; Katherine Waddell, LMFT
Rates: Full Rate — $120; NEAFAST Member Rate* — $60; NEAFAST Student Member Rate* — $40

CEs: 6 CEs pending for LMFTs, LICSWs, and LMHCs

Hosted by the New England Association for Family & Systemic Therapy (NEAFAST)

*Become a NEAFAST Member

The 2023 NEAFAST Couples Conference: One Couple, Three Approaches is a 6 CE event taking place on Friday, May 19, 2023 from 9am-4:30pm live on Zoom. The conference will model how to combine assessment and intervention from the perspective of three different couples therapy models—the Developmental Model, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and a Transtheoretical Systemic Approach—so that couples can make changes to their dynamic and effectively communicate, solve problems, and share intimacy. Participants of One Couples, Three Approaches will watch three couples therapists practice elements of their models with a live role play couple, and have the space to ask the presenters questions to explore the nuances of these models.

The concept of autonomous change is at the heart of working in the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. The model combines Differentiation Theory, Neuroscience and Attachment Theory in a system that is based on understanding each partner’s and the couple’s developmental tasks. Developed by international couples therapy pioneers Dr.’s Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, this model helps therapists understand, then harness, the power of developmental growth through a focus on autonomous change plus supporting and encouraging team-based action. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based approach developed by Dr. Susan Johnson that has been shown to be highly effective in helping distressed couples repair and create a secure bond. Inviting partners to take responsibility for change in couples therapy is a significant part of the art of the work. Finally, the Transtheoretical Systemic Approach utilizes the strategy of reframing as well as solution focused, collaborative, narrative, and socio-culturally attuned approaches. This model uses a lens that prioritizes intersectional contexts of trauma and power with a goal of enhancing relational justice that will be described and demonstrated.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be better able to:

  1. Describe and apply three changes to the mechanisms of the relationship dynamic creating problems for couples.
  2. Describe three differences in process. between the Developmental Model, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and a Transtheoretical Systemic Approach.
  3. Identify three features of the systemic feedback loop present in a couple conflict cycle.
  4. Describe three strategies to invite couple members to take responsibility for changing their part of the problem pattern in ways that are relationally just.
  5. Describe three elements necessary for autonomous change in individual members of a couple.

Schedule (all times in ET):

9-9:15am: Introduction
9:15-10am: Presentation of the Developmental Model by Katherine Waddell, LMFT
10-10:30am: Role Play
10:30-10:45am: Breakout Session
10:45-11am: Questions/Reflections
11-11:15am: Break
11:15am-12pm: Presention of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) by Nancy Knudsen, LMFT
12-12:30am: Role Play
12:30-12:45pm: Breakout Session
12:45-1pm: Questions/Reflections
1-2pm: Lunch
2-2:45: Presentation of Inviting Change: A Transtheoretical Systemic Approach by Liz Brenner, LICSW
2:45-3:15pm: Role Play
3:15-3:30pm: Breakout Session
3:30-3:45pm: Questions/Reflections
3:45-4pm: Break
4-4:30: Comparing & Contrasting the Three Models



Liz Brenner, LICSW has 30 years of experience doing family, couple and individual therapy in. child psychiatric inpatient, residential, home-based, and private practice settings. She was on the faculty of the Family Institute of Cambridge from 2003 until 2009 when it closed. Liz continues to learn and be inspired by many colleagues and mentors from FIC and elsewhere. She is currently the Co-Director of the Harvard Couple Conference and a teaching associate for Harvard Medical School providing family therapy training to staff at Cambridge Health Alliance in the Couple and Family Therapy Program. She was recently a member of the Executive Committee for Clinicians United, advocating for independent mental health clinicians and their clients in the Commonwealth. In 2017, Liz was the appreciative recipient of the award for the Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice from the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She is Founder and Director of Therapy Training Boston. Learn more at therapytrainingboston.com.

Nancy Knudsen, LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Northampton, MA with over 35 years experience in the field. She has used a family systems orientation over the years to work with individuals, couples, and families on a wide range of issues. Over the past 10 years, Nancy’s primary clinical modality has been Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). She first became a certified EFT therapist in 2011, then a certified EFT Supervisor in 2014, and served two years as the Assistant Director of the New England EFT Community. Nancy has taught a number of workshops on EFT for professionals. She is Co-Founder and Director of the Couple & Family Institute of New England (CFINE). Learn more at coupleandfamilyinstitute.com.

Katherine Waddell, LMFT is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Couples Center of the Pioneer Valley. She is one of only a few Certified Discernment Counselors in Western Massachusetts. She has 30 years of experience providing couples therapy and over a decade of experience teaching couples therapy to therapists. Her passion for couples counseling has also led her into speaking, teaching workshops and consulting with colleagues all over the country about the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy and Discernment Counseling. She is a Teaching Assistant to Ellyn Bader at the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, CA, and has practiced and taught in Massachusetts and California. Learn more at pioneervalleycouplestherapy.com.

This program is being offered independent of any commercial support or conflict of interest.