NEAFAST 2022 Spring Conference

Navigating the Minefield: A Transtheoretical Approach to the Challenges of Couples Therapy

May 6, 2022*; 9am-12:15pm ET | Live on Zoom | 3 CEs
Instructor: Jill Harkaway, EdD

*This Conference was previously scheduled for April 22, 2022.

The NEAFAST 2022 Spring Conference: Navigating the Minefield: A Transtheoretical Approach to the Challenges of Couples Therapy is a 3 hour presentation about the development of the therapeutic relationship in couples therapy presented by Dr. Jill Harkaway. When therapy gets stuck or fails, we can blame the couple for their “resistance” or degree of difficulty. We can also blame ourselves for being inadequate or incompetent. But couples therapy is difficult, perhaps as Jay Haley said, the most difficult therapy to do. There are inherent challenges in couples therapy that face every therapist. Inevitably we will all, even experienced couples therapists, make mistakes. Dr. Harkaway will discuss a frame for identifying the most common challenges and traps we face when working with couples: the places where the therapy stalls, falls apart, or doesn’t even get started. This frame transcends models, instead focusing on those challenges that are inherent in the process itself. Dr. Harkaway will discuss nine different challenges specific to couples therapy and find ways to prepare for and address them in couples therapy.

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

  1. Identify three core values for doing couples therapy work.
  2. Identify three strategies for simultaneously engaging with each member of the couple relationship and the relationship itself.
  3. Develop three strategies for addressing the differences in gender and other socioeconomic factors.
  4. Analyze three strategies for setting boundaries with clients to avoid being triangulated.

Schedule (all times in ET):

9-9:15am: Introduction to Jill Harkaway
9:15-9:30am: The Need for a Model Specific to Couples Therapy
9:30-9:45am: The Effect of Therapist’s Personal Values
9:45-10am: Understanding the Reason for Therapy
10-10:30am: The Importance of Building Therapeutic Alliances with Each Partner Simultaneously
10:30-10:45am: Break
10:45-11:15am: The Challenge of Triangulation in Couples Therapy
11:15am-12pm: The Importance of Leadership of the Therapist
12pm-12:15pm: Wrap-Up

The NEAFAST 2022 Spring Conference includes the opportunity to learn from, network, and collaborate with other family and systemic therapists, and is incredibly affordable: $60 for Non-Members; $40 for MembersFree for Student & Agency Worker Members, with a generous donation from the Emily Mitchell Scholarship Fund.

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Jill Harkaway, EdD developed, and for ten years directed, the current Couple and Family Therapy training program at Cambridge Health Alliance. She is currently a Senior Consultant at Cambridge Health Alliance, teaching Psychiatry Residents, Child Psychiatry Fellows, and Psychology trainees. She is an Assistant Professor of Psychology, part-time, in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is the recipient of two teaching awards in the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance. Dr. Harkaway has been the Co-Director of the annual Harvard Medical School Conference on Treating Couples since 2007. She has directed and consulted to a number of training programs in Couple and Family Therapy throughout New England over the last 40 years. She has served on the Editorial Boards of Family Process, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Family Systems Medicine, Family Systems and Health, and the Journal of Family Psychology. She is the Editor of the Aspen Publications book Eating Disorders. Dr. Harkaway has presented locally, regionally, and nationally for over 40 years on Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, and couple and family therapy treatment of eating disorders and self-harming behavior.


This activity is pending certification by the New England Association for Family and Systemic Therapy (NEAFAST) on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for LMFT professional continuing education.

This activity is pending certification by the National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts Chapter on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for LICSW professional continuing education.

Please note: It is the participant’s responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state.

This program is being offered independent of any commercial support or conflict of interest. Clinicians with any level of experience are welcome to participate.

Cancellation Policy: Please email us at [email protected] if you are unable to make it. We will give a full reimbursement for cancelations one month prior to the training.

Accessibility Statement: Participants will receive access to the Zoom link after signing up for the conference. Closed captioning can be provided through request.