1st Edition

Moral Development in Couple Therapy A New Approach to Kohlberg's Stages

By Steven I. Ries Copyright 2021
    244 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This innovative text utilizes Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, demonstrating how they can be effectively applied to couple and marriage therapy.

    Facilitating moral stage development has been found to improve couples’ ability to relate to one another, enhancing trust, transparency, communication, and intimacy. Based on empirical research and Kohlberg’s classic stages of development, the book showcases the Conceptual Template, a tool for therapists to guide their clients in thinking more objectively about the reality being experienced, their own subjectivity, and how to work together as a couple to mindfully solve problems. With an extensive Instructional Manual as well as a transcript of the author teaching the Conceptual Template process to a therapist, Moral Development in Couple Therapy illustrates a highly practical approach to counseling that helps couples achieve a more rational level of moral judgment and reasoning.

    Filled with practical case studies and written in an accessible manner, this text is an indispensable resource for couple therapists and other mental health professionals working with couples to resolve conflict.


    1. The Science Of Morality  2. The Underlying Psychodynamics and Interactions of Adult Pre-conventional (Stages 1 and/or 2) with Conventional (Stage 3) Moral Reasoning: A Clinical and Behavioral Perspective  3. Typical Interactions Of Couples Conventional In Moral Judgment/Reasoning  4. Historical Events of the 1960’s and 1970’s Affecting Moral Development  5. Implementing the Conceptual Template to Facilitate Moral Development  6. Subjectivity and Objectivity: Moral Reasoning  7. Cognition: Subjectivity and/or Relativity and Objectivity 8. Clinically Identifying Moral Subjectivism/Relativism through Implementing Moral Dilemmas  9. Organization of the Conceptual Template  10. Universal Conceptual Template Program


    Steven I. Ries, EdD, is a counselor in private practice in Maui, Hawaii, and was the co-founder and program director of the Human Development Institute in La Grange, Illinois. Previously in his career, he worked as a graduate research assistant under Lawrence Kohlberg at the Center for Moral Education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Later, Kohlberg became his dissertation committee chairman and Ries graduated with his doctorate from Harvard University in 1981. 


    "I have incorporated Dr. Ries’ universal concepts into my practice and have seen the improvements with my clients. This curriculum helps couples in all levels of their marriages for both prevention and intervention in the framework of a critical thinking approach. The book is presented in a structured, useful, and practical manner and is a great tool for the new or seasoned therapist looking to work with couples."
    Oudlay Tom, LCSW

    "I was first introduced to the Conceptual Template nearly 20 years ago, while working with challenged youth at a local high school. I was immediately struck by its direct and positive effect in addressing a wide range of social and emotional challenges and needs. As I strive to apply the understanding of these concepts in both my professional and personal life, I continuously gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of their importance and their effectiveness in dealing with matters both trivial and profound.  Rarely have I come across a teaching so effective and universally applicable in the resolution of conflict and the promotion of understanding and harmony. I believe the reader will find the understanding and use of the concepts discussed within the conceptual template to be most helpful in meeting the inevitable challenges presented to us by life itself."
    Steven A. Lopes NHD, MA, LMT, Behavioral Health Specialist, Natural Health Practitioner

    "My life was transformed when I learned Dr Ries' Conceptual Template over 30 years ago. I still use his concepts in my daily life with my spouse, children, friends, students, and even my corporate clients. His concepts and template help me better interact with the world around me as I practice a more objectively derived perspective. I have become a more authentic human being through his work. I find that I can make better decisions, more effectively manage conflict, better support those close to me, and accept others for who they are. I highly recommend a deep dive into his work."
    Dr Tim Buividas, partner at The Corporate Learning Institute and adjunct professor since 1997