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507 | The Trauma-informed Marriage: Avoiding Contempt by Embracing Reality in Dual-trauma Marriages

Friday 9/15 4:15 – 5:30 PM, Pre-marital Counseling and Marriage Enrichment, Workshop Tracks


Sunday Towles, M.A.; Matthew Towles



Approved For CE

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

Approved For CME/CEU




Few theories of marriage counseling have been accepted at the level that “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” has enjoyed since Dr. Gottman published his findings in the 1980s. The four horsemen—Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling—carry a collective detriment, but each indicates a particular danger to the long-term health of a marital relationship. For example, Contempt threatens to destroy a relationship when one spouse morally elevates themselves above the other. When trauma exists in a marriage (complex or acute), marital roles can be complicated by the traumatized individual’s need to claim a stable identity. This need may come at the expense of the marriage itself via a posture of Contempt. Licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders face the challenge of assisting marriages in developing the skills necessary to avoid Contempt, even as the couple carries the burden of a traumatic experience. This workshop will discuss the importance of reality-based living and therapeutic strategies that directly address the specific needs of a dual-trauma marriage.

Learning Objectives

1. Formulate an understanding of a dual-trauma marriage and how it can be identified by a mental health professional
2. Summarize how a traumatized spouse can engage in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” issues as described by Dr. Gottman
3. Describe an approach to marriage therapy that recognizes the unique processes required to help individuals thrive in a dual-trauma marriage
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