1st Edition

Dialogue Therapy for Couples and Real Dialogue for Opposing Sides Methods Based on Psychoanalysis and Mindfulness

    270 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    270 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A clear, cogent, and comprehensive account of the rationale and methods of Dialogue Therapy and Real Dialogue, this volume introduces models of facilitated dialogue designed specifically to end polarization.

    This book offers a straightforward and comprehensive encounter with some of the most effective theories and methods to facilitate dialogue and disrupt deadening power struggles between life partners, grown children and parents, siblings, co-workers, and others whose conflicts have led to harmful polarizations. The book is based on ideas and relational models from mindfulness and psychoanalysis that have not been applied in this unique way before. This melding of mindfulness (containment, concentration, equanimity, maintaining a "mindful gap") with the psychoanalytic understanding of projection and projective identification (the "hijacking" of our subjective experiences) creates much more than light at the end of the tunnel. It engenders the acceptance of another that leads to love and insight, based on the recognition and acknowledgement of our autonomy and our common humanity in the midst of conflict.

    This book introduces a new, revolutionary model for couple therapists, life coaches, group facilitators, and leaders to open a mindful space that increases witnessing capacities in the midst of emotional conflict without imposing goals of agreement, reconciliation or compromise.

    1. Dialogue therapy for marriage and other relationships in the 21st century   2. Increasing trust: accurate witnessing versus secure attachment  3. Projective identification as unconscious interaction  4. The "be-attitudes" for therapists and couples in dialogue therapy  5. Models (co-therapist and solo), screening, and pragmatics in practicing dialogue  6. Physical set-up and evaluation in co-therapist and solo models  7. Working on a conflict (woc) sessions in dialogue therapy  8. Unblocking: recognizing, investigating,and addressing projective identification  9. Role reversal, wrap-up, and six-month follow-up  10. Real dialogue for opposing sides: skill, method, and practice of facilitating difficult conversations outside of psychotherapy


    Jean Pieniadz, Ph.D., is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and supervisor in private practice. She is a founding and current faculty and board member of the Vermont Institute for the Psychotherapies. Her publications are in the areas of developmental psychology, feminist ethics, and neuropsychology.

    Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., is a psychologist, writer, speaker, and Jungian analyst. She has published eighteen books (translated into twenty languages), including The Self-Esteem Trap and Love Between Equals. A lifelong Buddhist practitioner, she is also a mindfulness teacher. Her podcast is "Enemies: From War to Wisdom" (www.young-eisdendrath.com).

    "Drs. Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath are on the pioneering edge with their elegant and highly effective model of Dialogue Therapy and Real Dialogue. As someone who has worked for years to help heal the broken-hearted, and offer hope to those who steadfastly believe in love despite their many bumps and bruises along the way, I’m thrilled to discover this graceful, heartfelt, compellingly simple, yet brilliantly deep work to awaken our ability to grow greater levels of compassion and care between us. These two superb luminaries are my new relationship gurus."

    ——Katherine Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT & New York Times bestselling author of Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After & Calling in "The One:" 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life

    "This ambitious, beautifully written text represents decades of accumulated clinical wisdom. Integrating feminism, Buddhism, psychoanalysis, and empirical scholarship, the authors show how to help antagonistic parties to listen respectfully, grow in self-knowledge and autonomy, and appreciate the equal humanity of the other. Their work is both inspiring and quintessentially practical. I recommend this book to all therapists who work with couples as well as to professionals in the fields of coaching, consulting, and conflict resolution."

    ——Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

    "We live—politically and psychologically—in a world of deaf ears, isolated silos, and grotesque caricature. For democracy to survive, we need to find ways to listen deeply, see others’ points of view, respect difference and generate creative dialogue. In this exciting and ground-breaking book, Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath describe the conceptual and practical tools this requires. Elegantly eclectic, they integrate ideas from psychoanalysis, feminism, psychodrama, attachment theory and Buddhism. Central to their practice are attentive witnessing, dialogic space, and validation of autonomy. Real Dialogue has implications that extend far beyond couple therapy to conflict resolution and political change. Beautifully and accessibly written, it will appeal to a wide audience of both professional and lay readers."

    ——Jeremy Holmes, M.D., University of Exeter, U.K.

    "It is well known that Dialogue Therapy—since its creation four decades ago by Polly Young-Eisendrath—has helped lift countless intimate partners out of deadening  emotional ruts.  This book describes and develops the model which  makes brilliant use of psychoanalysis, mindfulness, and psychodrama. Couple therapists of all schools of thought will benefit from the authors'  description of a method which goes beyond interpretation and transference cures.  It will be essential reading for those who aspire to see love  "as a form of psychological and spiritual development."

    ——Deborah Anna Luepnitz, Ph.D., author of Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas

    "A case could be made that Mindfulness Skills are central for achieving happiness independent of conditions--extraordinary happiness. The case could also be made that successful Communication Skills are key for happiness that depends on conditions, i.e., what people ordinarily call happiness. Bring those Two Skills together and you have an effective new way to deal with pernicious old problems. Drs. Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath invite you to a deep dive in a bracing pool."

    ——Shinzen Young, author of The Science of Enlightenment and Co-director of SEMA Lab, University of Arizona

    "Responsibility for understanding others starts with the individual and this book shines a light on tools to help in healing the rifts in communication, whether between couples or in the society as a whole.

    The authors reflect on the important need for a new understanding between partners, given evolving ideas about modern relationships as equal partnerships. In using Dialogue Therapy, Dr. Pieniadz and Dr. Young-Eisendrath avail themselves of multiple perspectives, including Buddhism and psychoanalysis, to help couples fulfill their needs for love, but also the need for their own individual growth.

    The authors’ knowledge of psychoanalytic ideas of projection and projective identification describe how outmoded and unconscious ways of relating, "rooted in early family life," can obstruct real communication. Achieving true intimacy in relationships remains a challenge for many couples, but the authors provide a necessary space here to work on meeting that challenge."

    ——Dr. Annie Reiner, Ph.D., Psy.D., Los Angeles. Psychoanalytic Center of California

    "In Dialogue Therapy for Couples and Real Dialogue for Opposing Sides: Methods Based on Psychoanalysis and Mindfulness, Polly Young-Eisendrath and Jean Pieniadz offer a powerful framework for working with and within couples and relationships as a whole. Building on the foundations of Dialogue Therapy, incorporating key new insights, such as those regarding "projective identification," and amplifying the fruits of incorporating the clarity and present attention of Buddhist-based meditation, the authors show that therapeutic practices must evolve with the rapidly changing nature of relationships themselves, relationships that promise new possibilities but also bear greater responsibility for each person. A must read for anyone engaged in clinical practice but also those generally seeking to deepen close relationships."

    ——Mark Unno, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Oregon

    "A real therapy for the human heart cannot start with a directive for improvement, but must thoroughly understand and transform the reasons why the default outcome of human interaction is usually a failure of joy and connection. This real therapy requires a breadth and depth of philosophical vision crystallized into a program of concrete action. Dialogue Therapy for Couples and Real Dialogue for Opposing Sides: Methods Based on Psychoanalysis and Mindfulness has just that magical formula. The authors of this book bring an incredible range of spiritual practice, depth psychology, and couples therapy knowledge to the ongoing, felt and ailing interactions between people. In lucid description, this book outlines the primary mechanisms of relationship problems, as well as a stepwise and robust way out. Their unique incorporation of centuries of wisdom about the human condition with practical application can give practitioners and anyone in any relationship a distinct method for creating connections that are sustainable and vibrant."

    ——Beth Jacobs, Ph.D., author of The Original Buddhist Psychology and Long Shadows of Practice

    "With consideration of the science of attachment, alongside tools drawn from psychoanalysis, psychodrama, and mindfulness, Drs. Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath provide the template for a groundbreaking approach to skillful communication, not only within couple therapy, but within healthy human relationships in general. Dialogue Therapy is a method of facilitated communication that produces a dive deep into the roots of how we came to be who we are and how to understand one another. This is the kind of hopeful, spiritual and scientific approach that can change our relational habits. Importantly, this book is accessible, presenting models and techniques that are straightforward, relevant and attainable. Dialogue Therapy and Real Dialogue open the door to a mindful space in which we can be more authentically ourselves and in fuller contact with others."

    ——Aliza W. Pressman, Ph.D., Co-Founder of The Mount Sinai Parenting Center and host of Raising Good Humans Podcast

    Drs. Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath have devised an elegant therapeutic approach for couples, courageously adhering to the conviction that problems of intimacy stem from problems in relationships, and that the solution to these problems lies in a careful witnessing of the individuals and the relationship. Building on the authors’ insights into the real-life manifestations of projective identification, Dialogue Therapy is a welcome and needed relief from generic psychotherapeutic approaches to couples that fail to create a mindful space for true relational intimacy and authentic surprise and curiosity between partners.

    ——Dr. Laura Berman, relationship therapist and best selling author of Quantum Love

    "There is no real dialogue without recognizing self, other, and the third element of the relationship itself. Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath trace a clear path that leads from the confusion of polarization and mistrust to real dialogue. They do so by integrating various disciplines—psychodrama, mindfulness, and psychoanalysis—in an original and compelling way that clearly illuminates the methods of both Dialogue Therapy for couples and Real Dialogue for those who are caught in opposing sides of any issue. The reader, whether a professional therapist or someone who is interested in negotiation and conflict, will learn through these pages why any kind of politics, personal or social, requires dialogue for its foundation.

    ——Stefano Carpani 

    "Who hasn’t wondered why romantic partnership is so longed for yet so elusive? In this masterful book, Pieniadz and Young-Eisendrath offer a clear, reliable, and substantive roadmap to sustainable and fulfilling romantic love. With a keen eye, they consider the pros and cons of existing therapeutic treatments for couples while providing their nuanced and compelling method. Expertly weaving together the best of psychoanalytic insights with Buddhist wisdom teachings, these authors have created an invaluable approach that will benefit clinicians and patients alike. Even if you have managed to find your way into loving partnership, this book will help nurture and refine your ability to continue enjoying your partnership with renewed appreciation. A must read!"A——Pilar Jennings, Ph.D., L.P.