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Assessing Couple Distress: The Four Session Evaluation

altCourse: Assessing Couple Distress: The Four Session EvaluationAnthony Chambers Photo

altInstructor: Anthony L. Chambers, Ph.D., ABPP

alt Approved for 3.0 Hours of CE Credit

altFulfills License Requirements

alt High Resolution Video

Program Description:

The current trend in professional psychology education calls for trainees to be evaluated on the basis of core functional and foundational competencies (Fouad et al., 2009). Despite calls for competency-based training in couple and family psychology (CFP; e.g., Kaslow, Celano & Stanton, 2009) and couple and family therapy (Celano, Smith & Kaslow, 2010), only recently has there been attention to the knowledge-, skill-, and attitude-base that a psychologist must possess in order to achieve specialty status as a CFP (Stanton & Welsh, 2011). As the field of CFP matures and more Psychologists move towards specialization in professional psychology, training models are needed that can facilitate competencies at the specialty level.

Towards that end, one of the most challenging skills for any couple therapist is being able to move from an individual to a systemic case conceptualization. Consistent with Stanton & Welsch’s (2011) couple and family psychology competencies, a thorough case conceptualization involves problem formulation, case formulation, and treatment formulation. However, this can be overwhelming for many trainees and established therapists conducting couple therapy. Thus, this presentation will present a systematic and systemic model that actualizes the case conceptualization competency.

The framework presented is a four-session evaluation that includes an initial conjoint session in order to understand the couple’s relationship problems followed by separate sessions in order to understand each person’s individual and family of origin histories (Chambers, 2012; 2018). The evaluation concludes with the therapist providing feedback to the couple that is used to establish a working alliance. Although the notion of routinely meeting with each member of the couple separately as part of an evaluation is not new (Karpel, 1994), the purpose of this presentation is to describe this procedure in enough detail that audience members will be able to teach this model to their trainees and/or be able to replicate this model for use in their own practice with couples.

Specifically, the presentation will describe the rationale and goals for the model, the tasks and pertinent issues to assess in each session, as well as how to present the model to couples during the initial phone call and initial visit. Finally, the presentation will discuss how to provide a dyadic/systemic conceptualization of their relationship problems, and how to make appropriate recommendations for treatment. Ethical and complicated issues such as confidentiality, how to handle secrets, and how to know when couple therapy is contraindicated will also be presented.

Goals & Objectives:

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

  • Assess couple distress
  • Implement the 4-session evaluation
  • Understand the goals of each session
  • Identify common presenting problems facing couples

Registration Information

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Online Video Version


CE Approval Information

  • The Steve Frankel Group, LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for Psychologists. This course is also approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) for its licentiates' CE license renewal requirements.
  • The Steve Frankel Group, LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course meets the qualifications for 3.0 hours of CE credit for Psychologists, MFTs, LCSWs, and LPCCs.

cce, Div. 43, cce-304