CEU

Here are summaries and reviews from Relationship Institute staff who have taken CEU classes:
  • Walt Romano: Deconstructing Anxiety with Todd Pressman, PhD   August 2022

I participated in a Weekend Intensive workshop with Dr. Todd Pressman, author of the Deconstructing Anxiety model, in which I earned 30 CEUs. I have to admit that the opportunity to earn 30 CEUs was attractive, but the extended weekend was truly intense, just as the name implies.

I found Dr. Pressman, his theory, and the workshop through a Counseling Today article that described the technique of discovering our Core Fear and the Chief Defense (and subsequent other defenses) used to protect us from the Core Fear. Not only did I think that this model would be good to attempt with clients but may also help to alleviate some of my own anxiety that seems to have been sprouting up a little too much lately. As intense as the weekend was, I found it to be extremely insightful, practical, useful and workable. I have already begun to use some of the techniques with clients, to some degree of “success”.

It is Dr. Pressman’s philosophy that, anxiety (fear) is at the root of all suffering, and as a result of this workshop I would gain insight into the five core fears–“universal themes of loss”–we all share, including:

  • abandonment (loss of love),
  • loss of identity,
  • loss of meaning,
  • loss of purpose (the chance to express oneself) and
  • fear of death (including fear of sickness and pain).

According to the seminar, we develop our primary defenses, usually early in childhood or at times of trauma, as our best attempt to protect ourselves from these fears, but always at too great a cost.  This leaves us constantly holding vigil, on the lookout for the resurfacing of the fear.  We build our entire personality upon this fear-defense dynamic.  When it spins out of control, an anxiety disorder develops.

The theory and techniques offered in this workshop, such as “The Alchemist”, “The Witness” and “The Warrior’s Stance”, taught us how to uncover the core fear and chief defense quickly and reliably. Armed with this knowledge, new strategies for “doing the opposite” of the chief defense and its secondary defenses may be attempted with even the most anxious clients.

I would recommend this Deconstructing Anxiety Intensive and its creator, Dr. Pressman, to anyone who is searching for a practical, results-driven means for lessening and eliminating anxiety.


  • Roxanne Barzone: The Compassionate Self: No Bad Parts with Richard Schwartz, PhD   April 2022

This training was conducted by the founder of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of therapy, Richard Schwartz, and he presented an excellent overview of the primary concepts of this theory and the process. There were both live and taped demonstrations of therapy sessions utilizing this process and they were so helpful in
bringing the theory to life and gaining a more solid understanding of how the concepts are used for healing. He mentions several times that this model is a real paradigm shift for many practitioners that come from trauma based models of practice and this was very true for me. He does not utilize the commonly
recommended practice of “resourcing” clients through grounding, containment, use of titration, and mindfulness practices and seems to present these as potential obstructions to this type of treatment. That was a challenge to wrap my head around, however, the demonstrations were helpful in understanding why
he does not feel a need to utilize these practices. I could see through the chat on the Zoom that a number of people had difficulty with this. Very interesting and would definitely recommend this to anyone that would like an introduction to the IFS  model. I’ve actually read a couple books on the model prior to this training and still learned so much more through the demos.


  • George Goike: Human Trafficking with Hawra Khraizat, LMSW, MA   February 2022

I would recommend the course and the presenter was very informative and organized. She did a good job blending video clips, data and information and some group discussions despite the challenges of zoom and group chats.

MI is # 6 in U.S. for trafficking cases. Avg age of victims is 12-14, most are women but LGBTQ demographic also a target.
Precursors are typically unstable home life, victim of physical/sexual abuse, one/both parents addicts, runaways.
Traffickers use the internet to recruit/find victims, assess where they’re vulnerable and fill that void, e.g. provide cash, clothes, “safe” home, companionship, win their trust and then slowly exert more and more control. Traffickers will also threaten harm against victim’s family.

Human trafficking isn’t always sex, domestic labor & organ selling also a motive. 10% of global kidney organs come from illegal trafficking.

Treatment will usually need to involve police and CPS initially and is a common barrier for victims to avoid tx services.
There are several tx techniques that can be used but Trauma Informed tx skills necessary. Establishing a trusting relationship crucial for provider to nurture for tx to be successful and tx likely to include family reunification as a goal.


  • Nina Carry: Terry Real – Breakthrough Results with Difficult Men

Presented by Terry Real, July 2021

This workshop, featuring actual clinical demonstrations with Terry Real and five different couples, is an excellent inside look into Mr. Real’s work as a clinician as well as the core concepts from Relational Life Therapy. This workshop showcases his strategies with working with “difficult men.” The more specific subtypes that are illustrated are men that are considered to be bullies, narcissistic, avoidant, selfish, and shaming. His main strategy of working with such personalities is that of empathic resonance and confrontation. Unlike traditional couple therapy, Mr. Real takes sides – commonly of the woman in a cisgender heteronormative relationship – and uses appropriate and relatable self-disclosure to gain the trust and build rapport with the man. Mr. Real often refers to this as “joining through the truth.” His focus is on intergenerational trauma of the patriarchal culture that we have all existed in. He holds firm to the belief that a traditional marriage no longer works in this day and age, but rather a more modern egalitarian style. He states that his goals are to undo patriarchy one man/one couple at a time; helping men come down from grandiosity and women from victimhood.

As a clinician, I believe this workshop has helped me to trust my instincts a bit more and step out of fear to challenge myself to be more confronting with the more difficult men that I experience in practice. By using honesty, tempered by empathy, the hard outer shell of these men can be cracked – exposing the wounded inner child and adaptive teenager that is protecting it. Relationship Life Therapy (RLT) illustrates that each person has three parts; the wounded child, the adaptive teenager, and the grown adult. Mr. Real contends that when we are triggered and experiencing discomfort from conflict we often go into our adaptive teenager role. This role is the one that includes our maladaptive coping strategies created out of necessity from trauma during childhood. The work of RLT is to move a person from the adaptive teenager into adulthood – or more simply put – vulnerability.

The first main part of RLT is to confront the client/couple, or “wake them up.” This first part is establishing what the problems are (always two presenting problems – one for each person in the relationship as it is a dynamic). The second part is family of origin work to understand where each person had developed their adaptive teenager strategies. Mr. Real’s family of origin work is similar to that of Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems model. In one of the video modules he illustrated his way of doing an inner child exploration with one of the male clients that proved to be quite effective. The inner child/family of origin work is always done with the other person in the relationship present as to promote empathy from the partner. The final part of RLT is education. Mr. Real believes in very specific teaching so that each person knows exactly what to do at home. This includes teaching the couple specific ways to word things, as well as controlling tone/affect, and keeping time limits to conversations. Basically, he teaches specific skills for each person to show up as their adult self rather than their adaptive teenager.

Although some of the strategies used seem to flow so well simply due to Mr. Real’s own personal style and years of experience, I do believe that his teachings are invaluable to those of us that work with couples and/or men with a hard veneer. I do suggest this workshop as seeing Mr. Real in action is such a treat and packed with valuable information.


  • Roxanne Barzone: Mindfulness and Body/Mind Approaches for Clinical Practice
Presented by Mary Nurrie Stearns and Rick Nurrie Stearns, March 2021
This training focused on use of mindfulness and other techniques to reduce anxiety, depression, shame, and chronic pain. This included the importance of resourcing clients through teaching and modelling of skills for confronting trauma based thoughts and distressing emotions. The trainer taught and modelled many resourcing techniques including a basic EFT technique for emotional regulation/reducing overwhelm. I particularly appreciated her
teachings on shame and compassion that included the physiological and cognitive basis of shame, shame as a trauma memory, self-compassion techniques and how/when to use them. Brain science was incorporated throughout the training with an emphasis on polyvagal theory. I have engaged in many trainings on both trauma and mindfulness but learned much throughout this training with a combination of both new information and familiar information presented in different ways.

  • Roxanne Barzone: 10 Best Ever Anxiety Treatment Techniques
Presented by Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD, March 2021
This was a one day training outlining multiple anxiety treatment strategies. She began by presenting information about parts of the brain, then
continued on to various strategies for anxiety with significant emphasis on social anxiety. Strategies included the “container” visualization practice for
worries, progressive muscle relaxation, stopping catastrophizing, mindfulness, and physical care of self. I have to say that I did not personally find this a valuable training. I’m not sure I’d consider these strategies the “best ever” and much of this was not new learning for me nor
was it presented in a way that provided further depth of knowledge. I think most challenging for me was a lack of organization of the material. I initially
thought I may not have been focused enough until someone else indicated that they were not following her sequence. She did provide some resources
that I may check out including the ASI (for adults) and CASI (for children) scales to measure anxiety sensitivity (tolerance for anxiety) and the CBTI
app to help with sleep.

  • Roxanne Barzone: Mindfulness & Psychotherapy

Presented by Tara Brach, November 2020

This course was provided through the online educational site called Sounds True.  It was a 9 session course with an additional 2 live Q & A sessions that focused on the use of mindfulness in therapy.  Each session has several different lessons and questions for reflection and journaling.  Tara Brach is an excellent and renowned mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist and she provides brief guided meditations for each session.  These are provided in downloadable form and can be used with clients.  She refers to therapy as spiritual reparenting.

Throughout this course, much emphasis is placed on self-compassion; other lessons provide teachings on working with the trance of unworthiness, thoughts and beliefs, fear, forgiveness, and natural presence.  Each separate audio lesson includes a downloadable transcript that provides an easy review of the lesson to reference at a later time.  The two live Q&A sessions with Tara  provided more in depth instructions on working with various challenges that therapists face.  She provided what have been, in her experience, powerful questions for use during therapy sessions including “What do you most judge about yourself…what do you not want others to see?” and “What do you most long for?”   Each video presentation (multiple per session) was a 10-15 minute lesson and Tara utilizes humor so both factors made for ease of concentration and learning. I expect to revisit portions of the material she provided.  I definitely found this to be valuable for both my personal mindfulness practice and for use with clients.

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