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108 | Staying in the Furnace Without Getting Burned: Attending to Intense Emotional Conflict in Couples

Couples in Crisis, Relationship Conflict, and Marital Recovery, Thursday 9/14 8:45 – 10:00 AM, Workshop Tracks


Jim Sells Ph.D.; Jennifer Ripley Ph.D.



Approved For CE

Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU




This workshop will bring findings from recent research showing how psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, pastors, and marriage coaches can help couples redirect emotional intensity, such as anger, despair, and hopelessness, toward relational intimacy and stability. This session will lead participants through a progressive model. The first focus is on helping couples form a common hope when they typically push against collaborating. The second focus is learning to reframe defensive/offensive actions that stalemate couples from goal attainment. The third focus is implementing relational grace to work through impasses by identifying individual interests, which run parallel to couples’ goals. This workshop focuses on the integration of two popular and successful approaches to treating couples in counseling ministries, which are the Sells & Yarhouse (2011) Counseling Couples in Conflict (the Grace Model) and the Ripley and Worthington (2015) Couple Therapy: A New Hope-focused Approach Hope Model (the Hope Model). This combination of two models is to aid participants in their work in therapy with Christian clients and ministry. Resources, including videos and workbooks, will be made available to participants.

Learning Objectives

1. Outline the conflict processes that stalemate couples’ efforts toward goal attainment
2. Apply the steps to overcoming couple impasses
3. Utilize the model of relational grace and hope in mock counseling experiences
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