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Therapy for Couples and Families Coping with Cancer or Other Chronic Illnesses with Ruth Morehouse, PhD

Health crises can bring out both the best and the worst in people, and dealing with these high intensity issues requires the therapist to be firmly grounded in systemic thinking and to use a therapeutic approach that can be equally effective with couples, children, families, and the broader family system. This workshop will explore how the Crucible Approach™, a differentiation-based therapy model founded by Schnarch, provides a reliable framework for addressing the myriad and multi-layered issues that arise for families when one member (either an adult or child) is living with chronic or serious illness.  

In this workshop, participants will explore a variety of couple and family dynamics that are associated with coping with chronic illness. We will look at how normal differentiation struggles are exacerbated by illness, as well as identify patterns that emerge specific to managing serious/chronic medical problems. Attention will be given to marital dyads, as well as larger family constellations, which include a child or adult with chronic illness. Dr. Morehouse will strive for an optimum blend between elucidating Crucible theory and a strong emphasis on active learning through case application, video clips, a series of brief clinical demonstrations by the presenter, and small group discussions and activities designed to enhance participants’ clinical interventions.  


By the completion of the institute, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss how issues of differentiation are triggered by serious illness in a couple or family
  • Describe the Crucible Four Points of Balance® and give examples of how they can be used to strengthen clients’ resilience in coping with illness in themselves or in family members
  • Understand collaborative versus collusive alliances and learn to facilitate collaborative alliances in families with chronic illness
  • Explain specific sexual concerns that emerge in couples coping with cancer or other chronic illnesses and body changes, as well as interventions to enhance emotional connection during sex
  • Clarify the importance of addressing emotional issues and psychological needs of the healthy partner in couples when one partner has a chronic illness  
  • Describe an effective therapeutic intervention to employ when there are parental differences regarding discipline methods with their children who have medical problems
  • Discuss current research regarding therapeutic usefulness of support groups for cancer survivors and/or their family members
  • Describe some steps to developing collaborative alliances with allied professionals associated with clients’ medical treatment
  • Discuss therapist’s effective processing of his or her own grief and loss regarding client’s illness, disability and/or death.


Course Schedule

Thursday, March 7, 2013 – Sunday, March 10, 2013

8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each day

This course provides 20 hours of continuing education.


Ruth Morehouse, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist (Diplomate, AASECT) who has been working with step parenting and remarriage issues for over 30 years. She is co-director of the Marriage and Family Health Center of Evergreen, Colorado, which is the home of the Passionate Marriage® and Crucible® Approaches. She has years of experience conducting training around the world and also provides ongoing case consultation on couples and families to experienced mental health professionals.


Continuing Education

The AAMFT Institutes are approved to provide continuing education for marriage and family therapists and allied professionals by most major mental health organizations.


Place your company's fliers, brochures, or other promotional pieces in all Institute attendees' informational packets. These packets will be handed to each attendee (approximately 150 - 200) upon arrival at the Institutes.

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Hotel & Travel

AAMFT is happy to announce a partnership with two exquisite hotels in Santa Fe for our 2013 Institutes for Advanced Clinical Training.

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American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
112 South Alfred Street Alexandria, VA 22314-3061
Phone: (703) 838-9808 | Fax: (703) 838-9805

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