Special Workshops on

Relationship Enhancement®

and Filial Methods

The 2020 Relationship Enhancement®

and Filial Therapy Conference

September 19, 2020

Webinars via Video Conferencing

Sponsored by

National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE)

CE Workshops

Because of the Coronavirus situation in the U.S., NIRE has postponed two of the originally scheduled play related workshops to what we hope will be an in-person conference in Spring 2021.

Three of the originally scheduled workshops are being presented on September 19, 2020 as webinars via video conferencing.

These webinars will also be recorded so that they will become available for on-line viewing once we are able to post them on the NIRE website.

The revised schedule is presented below.

Links for each of the webinars will be sent out the week prior to the Saturday September 19 conference date.

The three webinars are:

Dessert Dialogues:  Use of Relationship Enhancement to Help Families Work Through End-of-Life Decisions

Deep Empathy from the Perspective of Relationship Enhancement Therapy

Healing the Hurt: Supporting Children of Divorce and Their Parents Within the Child-Centered Play Therapy Process

The first webinar qualifies for 3 CE credits.

The other two webinars each qualify for 2 CE credits.

Registration links for each workshop are provided below.

Workshop Descriptions

Dessert Dialogues: Using Relationship Enhancement to Help Families Work through End-of-Life Decisions 

Presenter: Mary Ortwein, M.S., LMFT

Saturday September 19, 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 3 CE credits

As a recent advertisement noted, “100% of people die.”  A broken hip, sudden symptoms, COVID-19, or even a routine trip to the doctor can abruptly bring the reality of end-of-life decisions to front row center of a family’s life. Often, because such decisions are emotionally difficult, elders and their children do not share together their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and desires in ways that both make conscientious decisions and build family unity.

This workshop mixes the Experiential Format of the Relationship Enhancement® model with the content of a book in process by the presenter, Dessert Dialogues:  6 Family Conversations to Have Before a Health Crisis to provide a model for therapists and families to use to discuss end-of-life decisions prior to a health emergency.

The Experiential Format of RE was developed by Dr. Bernard Guerney and his colleagues to enable family members to learn RE skills quickly in the context of immediate issues.  This workshop will begin with video selections of Dr. Guerney working with a family in this model.  Using break-out sessions in the Zoom format, workshop participants will then have an opportunity to practice use of Experiential RE to help family members unfamiliar with the RE model learn quickly how to discuss emotionally laden issues with respect, honesty, and compassion.

The second half of this 3-hour workshop will overview common specific issues which are often included in end-of-life family discussions, some references to develop clinician competency in these issues, and provide a video demonstration of how such content can be introduced to a family within the context of RE Experiential Model dialogue.

The workshop will be supplemented by selections from Dessert Dialogues: 6 Family Conversations to Have Before a Health Crisis.

NOTE:  While some content in “Dessert Dialogues” is specifically directed to families within the Roman Catholic Church, this presentation will focus on using the Relationship Enhancement® model to discuss end-of-life issues across the gamut of faith and secular perspectives.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify core issues which need to be addressed in family discussions of end-of-life decisions

  2. Use the Experiential Format of Relationship Enhancement® to effectively include family members with and without previous background in the Relationship Enhancement® model in family end-of-life discussions

  3. Adapt the Dessert Dialogues structure for families of various religious beliefs

Mary Ortwein, MS, LMFT, is co-author with Bernard Guerney of numerous Relationship Enhancement® programs, including Mastering the Mysteries of Love, Love’s Cradle, Relationship Enhancement® for Refugees and Immigrants, Ready for Love, and Mastering the Mysteries of Sacramental Love.  Since her semi-retirement, she spends a couple of days a week with the carebound and their families in her church.  Her experiences and relationships from this work have led to a new curriculum within her Catholic faith, “Jesus is Coming to Your House Today: Communion with Community for the Carebound,” as well as “Dessert Dialogues.” 

Standard: Dessert Dialogues: Using RE to Facilitate…           $60

Student: Dessert Dialogues: Using RE to Facilitate…             $10

Deep Empathy from the Perspective of Relationship Enhancement Therapy

Presenter: Robert Scuka, PhD, MSW, LCSW-C

Saturday September 19, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. 2 CE Credits

Empathy constitutes one of the therapist’s most important tools to facilitate client self-understanding and growth. Yet, the fields of psychotherapy and psychological research are burdened with conflicting definitions of empathy. This workshop presents a comprehensive description of empathy and how it can be taught to clients in the context of couple therapy that is rooted in Carl Rogers’s classic definition of empathy and elaborated more systematically within the framework of Bernard Guerney’s Relationship Enhancement (RE) Therapy. This approach to empathy is contextualized within recent discussions on empathy in order to highlight the distinctiveness of the RE approach and to show how some recent discussions in the literature dovetail with and reinforce the Rogerian-based approach of RE Therapy.

Detailed descriptions are provided of: the five steps by which empathy is taught to couples in RE Therapy, the two different modes of verbal empathy, how empathy is demonstrated, and how couples are provided the opportunity to practice empathy – all in the service of fostering a productive circle of mutual empathy through a structured dialogue process that deepens mutual understanding as the pathway to renewed connection, the resolution of difficult issues and, where relevant, healing and reconciliation in the relationship.

Individuals registering for this workshop will be sent a copy of the draft article upon which this workshop is based. The workshop will highlight certain aspects of the article in order to provide more opportunity for discussion.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe in detail an elaborated delineation of Carl Rogers’s conceptualization of empathy rooted in RE Therapy

  2. Describe the five Learning Theory based steps in how empathy is explained to clients

  3. Describe the two different modes of verbal empathy

  4. Describe how empathy is introduced experientially to clients through therapist demonstration and client practice

Robert Scuka, Ph.D., M.S.W., is Executive Director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE) in Kensington, MD, a member of NIRE’s Faculty, and a Master Trainer in Relationship Enhancement® (RE) methods. Rob is author of Relationship Enhancement Therapy: Healing Through Deep Empathy and Intimate Dialogue (Routledge, 2005). He also is co-author of the Couples’ Relationship Enhancement® Program: Leader’s Manual and has produced three DVD videos, including one on empathy and another on using RE to help couples recover from infidelity.

Standard: Deep Empathy from the Perspective of RE             $40

Student: Deep Empathy from the Perspective of RE               $10

Healing the Hurt: Supporting Children of Divorce and Their Parents Within the Child-Centered Play Therapy Process

Presenter: Ian Masson, M.S.

Saturday September 19, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. 2 CE credits

Children who have experienced the separation or divorce of their parents often present with deep feelings of hurt and emotion that can be both frightening and confusing for them. While Child-Centered Play Therapy can help them resolve these deep seated emotional struggles, both parents’ willingness to support their child and their ability to navigate the co-parenting relationship can significantly impact their child’s ability to adapt and heal. This brings a unique set of challenges to the clinician who is seeing a child in CCPT but who notices dynamics in the family relationships that may make it difficult for the child to progress within play therapy. Giving the parents a sense of hope and drawing out the shared goal of their child’s well-being can aid in this process. In addition, this can aid the clinician in navigating some of the challenges in handling individual parents who may be in a high state of distress or conflict, particularly if both parents are involved in the therapeutic process.

Learning Objectives: Participants completing this workshop will be able to:

  1. Describe the common emotional responses and challenges of children and parents who experience divorce or separation

  2. Describe how to respond to the concerns or questions of parents and make appropriate play therapy recommendations based on parents’ concerns parents

  3. Describe how to structure consults in order to provide effective feedback to parents regarding use of play therapy skills in co-parenting situations and how they can best support their child in the process

Ian Masson, M.S., LPC, is Clinical Director of Parenting Services at Chrysalis Counseling Centers in Culpeper, VA. Ian received his certifications in Relationship Enhancement Therapy and Child-Centered Play Therapy through NIRE, and primarily works with children. Ian also oversees the Intensive Therapeutic Parenting Program at Chrysalis, a service that seeks to develop child-centered parenting skills through use of Dr. Louise Guerney’s Parenting: A Skills Training Manual.

Standard: Healing the Hurt: Supporting Children of Divorce      $40

Student: Healing the Hurt: Supporting Children of Divorce        $10

CE Credits

IDEALS/NIRE is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. IDEALS/NIRE maintains responsibility for each program and its content. NIRE has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5560. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. NIRE is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. IDEALS/NIRE is approved by the Maryland State Board of Social Workers to offer Category 1 continuing education programs for social workers. NIRE also is approved by the Association for Play Therapy to offer continuing education specific to play therapy. APT Approved Provider 95-009. IDEALS/NIRE maintains responsibility for the program.

The Saturday morning workshop will earn attendees 3 CE credits.

The two Saturday afternoon workshops will each earn attendees 2 CE credits.

A Certificate will be issued to you attesting to your completion of each workshop attended and documenting the CE credits you have earned.


The fee for the 3-hour workshop is $60.

The fee for each 2-hour workshop is $40.

The fee for currently enrolled, full-time graduate students is $10.00 for each workshop.

For further information, please call NIRE at 301-680-8977.

We look forward to seeing you virtually on September 19!

Rob Scuka, Ph.D.
Executive Director
National Institute of Relationship Enhancement®