Special Workshops on

Relationship Enhancement®

and Filial Methods

The 2020 Relationship Enhancement®

and Filial Therapy Conference

March 27-28, 2020 in Bethesda, MD

Sponsored by

National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE)

CE Workshops

For the 2020 Relationship Enhancement® and Filial Therapy Conference, NIRE is offering two workshops on Friday March 27 and three workshops on Saturday March 28.

Friday will include two workshops: “Trauma-Informed Assessment of the Child’s Process and Progress through the Typical Stages of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT)” and “Trauma-Informed Filial Therapy: Playing through Fight, Flight & Freeze.”

Saturday will include three workshops: “Healing the Hurt: Supporting Children of Divorce and Their Parents Within the Child-Centered Play Therapy Process,” “Dessert Dialogues:  Use of Relationship Enhancement to Help Families Work Through End-of-Life Decisions,” and “Deep Empathy from the Perspective of Relationship Enhancement Therapy.”

Each Friday workshop qualifies for 3 CE credits.

Each Saturday workshop qualifies for 2 CE credits.

Organized Friday Night Dutch Treat Dinner

This year’s traditional “Dutch Treat” dinner will be held on Friday night March 27. This well attended event always proves to be a fun time to connect and relax with friends and colleagues around the dinner table. Please join us if you can! Details below. If you wish to attend, please indicate that on your registration form so we can properly plan with the restaurant.

Friday Workshops

Trauma-Informed Assessment of the Child’s Process and Progress through the Typical Stages of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT)

Presenters: Nancy H. Cochran, MA, CAS, LMHC and Jeff L. Cochran, PhD

Friday, March 27, 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 3 CE credits

Most children will travel through some clearly identifiable stages commonly observed with the majority of children participating in CCPT. Knowledge of these stages of the CCPT process – what the therapist will experience and observe as a child progresses in CCPT – facilitates both the therapist’s knowledge of what sorts of behaviors and play activities are to be expected and one’s recognition of the indicators of process and progress that are internal-to-the-child.

Assessing for process and progress in Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) presents many challenges, and even more so when working with children who have experienced complex trauma. A solid working knowledge of the Typical Stages of CCPT (Chapter 10, Cochran, Nordling, & Cochran, 2010) enables the therapist to remain confident and congruent while holding space consistently and with enough structure to safely assist the child, thereby giving the child more freedom to lead in therapy and to fully express oneself. The CCPT session allows for the child to process as needed, but only as much as is needed. The importance of the child being in control of this process cannot be overemphasized when working with children who have experienced complex trauma, as many times the child is working to safely desensitize, release and/or integrate. To facilitate the child’s process, the therapist must remain connected and consistent – while providing the core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness – without interrupting or adding to the child’s lead, narrative or metaphor.

This presentation will focus on how having a solid working knowledge of the Typical Stages of CCPT provides an internal-to-the-child measure of progress and addresses the common challenges and concerns that child therapists have when providing CCPT for all children, and especially those who have experienced complex trauma.

In addition, common themes, types of play and self-generated activities that are seen in CCPT will be described, including:

  • Relational Boundaries Expression/Play (Limit Testing and Therapeutic Limits)

  • Interactive Role-Play and Solitary Role-Play

  • Aggressive/Regressive Stage Play (Transitional Stages of Play)

  • Self-Generated or Chosen Movement, Music, Art, and Sensory Play Activities 

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

  1. Describe the Typical Stages of CCPT (Warm-Up Stage, Aggressive Stage, Regressive Stage, Mastery Stage and Transitional Stages) and what can be expected when working with children who have experienced complex trauma

  2. Describe common themes, types of play and self-generated activities that are seen in CCPT sessions and that are of particular benefit to the child who has experienced complex trauma

  3. Discuss important considerations in collecting standardized and reliable external measures of progress and providing consultation, psychoeducation and wrap-around services (outside the therapy hour) for children who have experienced complex trauma

Nancy H. Cochran, MA, CAS, LMHC is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at the University of Tennessee. She has over 20 years of experience as a school psychologist and counselor. In addition to private consultation practice, she coordinates the UT REACH Project with Jeff Cochran, providing and researching child-centered play therapy for children in high poverty schools at risk of failure due to behavioral and emotional challenges. Nancy is certified in CCPT and Filial Family Therapy, as well as a CCPT-Supervisor, through the National Institute for Relationship Enhancement. Her publications include The Heart of Counseling: Counseling Skills through Therapeutic Relationships (2nd edition, Cochran & Cochran, 2015, Routledge) and Child-Centered Play Therapy: A Practical Guide to Developing Therapeutic Relationships with Children (Cochran, Nordling, & Cochran, 2010, Wiley.

Jeff L. Cochran, PhD is professor in Counselor Education, and department head in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at the University of Tennessee. He has over 15 years of experience supervising, teaching and guiding the development of counselors; following over 10 years of counseling practice, including school and agency settings, children, youth, and adults. His books include: The Heart of Counseling: Counseling Skills through Therapeutic Relationships (2nd edition, Cochran & Cochran, 2015, Routledge) and Child-Centered Play Therapy: A Practical Guide to Developing Therapeutic Relationships with Children (Cochran, Nordling, & Cochran, 2010, Wiley). With Nancy Cochran, Jeff helps run the UT REACH Project, providing and researching child-centered play therapy for at-risk children.

Standard: Trauma-Informed Assessment of the Child’s Process    $60
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Student: Trauma-Informed Assessment of the Child’s Process      $10
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Trauma-Informed Filial Therapy: Playing through Fight, Flight & Freeze

Presenters: Jessica Prentice (LCSW-C, RPT-S), Anne Knabel (LCPC, RPT), Zakiya Toms (LCSW-C) and Jessica Quaranto (LGPC)

Friday, March 27, 2:00 – 5:15 p.m. 3 CE Credits

Filial therapy will be explored through the lens of trauma and its potential manifestations in attachment, preceding and amid play therapy skill training and implementation with caregivers. An overview of trauma and its interplay on development, including attachment and neurobiology will be reviewed, with an emphasis on theoretical underpinnings that reiterate the significance of safety as a critical and primary element of consideration throughout play therapy services. Implications surrounding the relevance of self-awareness, in conjunction with broader cultural awareness and sensitivity will be explored as vital to the practicality of trauma-informed filial therapy. Participants can anticipate opportunities for small group case consultations to reinforce practical application, as well as integration of experiential learning utilizing expressive modalities such as sand therapy, to demonstrate use of supplemental tools to Filial skill building with caregivers.

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

  1. Review basic neurobiology of trauma and discuss ways to provide general psychoeducation to parents and children with particular attention to co-regulation

  2. Discuss attachment theory and implications for parent psychoeducation and play therapy skill-building

  3. Describe specific strategies within the Filial Therapy model to support families with a trauma history, specifically deep empathy

Jessica Prentice (LCSW-C, RPT-S) is the clinical supervisor at College Park Youth, Family and Senior Services. Anne Knabel (LCPC, RPT), Zakiya Toms (LCSW-C) and Jessica Quaranto (LGPC) serve as family therapists at the same agency. They provide counseling services to families with children ages 2-18 years old, residing in Prince George’s County, Maryland. All have participated in extensive training and supervision in Child-Centered and Filial Therapies including routine group consultation on cases with Lousie Guerney. Additionally, they each have completed an intensive Trauma Certificate Program with Lisa Fertenz.

Standard: Trauma-Informed Filial Therapy                                 $60

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Student: Trauma-Informed Filial Therapy                                   $10

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The fee for currently enrolled, full-time graduate students

 

Dinner, Friday Night, March 27, 6:30 p.m. Dutch Treat.

Following the Friday afternoon workshop, those who are interested will go out together as a group for dinner for fun, relaxation and an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues. If you are interested in joining the group for dinner, please indicate that on your registration from so we can properly plan with the restaurant.

Saturday Workshops

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

Presenter: Ian Masson, M.S.

Saturday, March 28, 9:00 a.m. – 11:15 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

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

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Dessert Dialogues: Using Relationship Enhancement to Facilitate Families Conversations about Aging, Dying, and After

Presenter: Mary Ortwein, M.S., LMFT

Saturday, March 28, 12:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. 2 CE credits

This workshop presents a way to use the Experiential Format of the Relationship Enhancement (RE) model to help families use the RE dialogue process before (or during) a health crisis to discuss end-of-life matters and come to solutions that meet the core concerns of both elders and their children. The Experiential Format of RE was developed by Dr. Bernard Guerney and colleagues to enable family members to learn RE skills quickly in the context of immediate issues.

The initial portion of the workshop will outline issues recommended to be included in family conversations about end-of-life and the rationale for using the Experiential Format of the RE dialogue process in a comfortable setting to discuss them. This will be followed by a video demonstration of Dr. Guerney teaching the RE skills to a family using the Experiential Format and a live demonstration with workshop participants of how a therapist might use Experiential RE to work with elders and their children to discuss end-of-life concerns.

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

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

  2. Describe how to apply the Experiential Format of the Relationship Enhancement model to family discussions about end-of-life matters.

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 two days a week with the carebound and their families in her church. Her experience with the needs of these families, as well as her background as an RE therapist, have led her to research and write about the topic of this workshop.

Standard: Dessert Dialogues: Using RE to Facilitate…           $40

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

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Deep Empathy from the Perspective of Relationship Enhancement Therapy

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

Saturday, March 28, 3:00 – 5:15 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

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Student: Deep Empathy from the Perspective of RE               $10

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Registration Information

Location: The RE and Filial Therapy Conference will be held on the Roof level of the Topaz House at 4400 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD. The Topaz House is located six miles from the White House and Georgetown. NIRE is less than three blocks from the Bethesda metro stop.

Travel: For those coming by air: NIRE is 15 miles from Washington National, 22 miles from Baltimore-Washington, and 18 miles from Dulles Airports. For those coming by car: NIRE is two miles south of the Connecticut Avenue exit or the Wisconsin Avenue exit of the Beltway (I-495).

Parking: Parking on Friday may be available at the Topaz House’s underground garage on a limited first come first served basis. There is a public parking lot at East-West Highway and Waverly Street, a block and a half from the Topaz House.

On Friday, be certain to bring plenty of quarters for the public parking lot. The cost is $1.00 per hour in long term parking on Level 3 or higher; plan on 9 hours, i.e., 9.00 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Parking at the public parking lot is free on Saturday.

On Saturday, parking should be easier at Topaz House. All registrants will be sent a map detailing how to reach NIRE.

Schedule: Each Friday workshop will be 3 hours long. Each Saturday workshop will be 2 hours long. There will be one 15 minute break during each workshop.

Refreshments: Starting at 8:40 a.m., and available all day, each day, there will be a sidebar with fruit, coffee and tea, soda, and snacks.

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.

Each Friday workshop will earn attendees 3 CE credits.

Each Saturday workshop will 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.

Cost: The fee for each 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.

Optional Friday Night Dinner (Dutch Treat): Many participants at past RE and Filial Therapy Conference annual meeting workshops have enjoyed each other’s company over dinner at a restaurant in Bethesda. We will do the same this year, on Friday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m. While prepayment is not necessary, it is necessary for planning purposes to know who plans to attend, so please indicate on the registration form that you would like to attend the dinner so that we can make appropriate arrangements and reserve table space for our group. Some participants may also choose to go out to dinner on Saturday evening, but that will not be a formally organized event.

Accommodations: Several hotels are in Bethesda: The Bethesdan Hotel, 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, 301-652-2000. The American Inn, 8130 Wisconsin Avenue, 301-656-9300. Marriot Residence Inn, 7335 Wisconsin Avenue, 301-718-0200.

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

We look forward to seeing you there!

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

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