Special Workshops: Relationship Enhancement® and Filial Therapy Conference

The 2018 Relationship Enhancement®
and Filial Therapy Conference

April 6-7, 2018 in Bethesda, MD

Sponsored by

National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE)

CE Workshops

For the 2018 Relationship Enhancement® and Filial Therapy Conference, NIRE is sponsoring two workshops on Friday April 6 and two workshops on Saturday April 7.

Friday will include two workshops: “Relationship Skills Training: Making ‘Time’ Matter” and “Healing Multi-Partner Infidelity through the Relationship Enhancement Model by Building Intimate Partner Attachment”


Saturday will include two workshops: “Do as I Do:  Applications of Underlying Theoretical Constructs within Relationship Enhancement and Filial Play Therapy for Clinical Supervision” and “Challenging Cases in Couple and Family Therapy: Theory and Practice within Relationship Enhancement Therapy”.

Each workshop qualifies for 3 CE credits.

Organized Friday Night Dutch Treat Dinner

This year’s traditional “Dutch Treat” dinner will be held on Friday night April 6. 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. And please RSVP so we can properly plan with the restaurant.


Registration information may be found below.

Special Conference Workshop Registration Form

Friday Workshops

Relationship Skills Training: Making “Time” Matter

Presenter: James E. Koval, Ph.D.

Friday, April 6, 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 3 CE credits

This workshop will present recent research and clinical interventions that focus on the psychological construct of Time Perspectives (TP), with the intent of identifying and exploring strategies to utilize Time as a constructive tool to strengthen relationship skills training. Research studies on well over 10,000 individuals from over 30 different countries have identified six different time perspectives, some of which embody a positive orientation toward time, while others embody a negative orientation toward time. Examples of the latter include statements such as: “We used to,” “Because I’m not happy,” and “We’ll never change.” Each statement expresses a different orientation to time: past, present and future, respectively. Each statement may also represent a person’s unconscious, and negative, attitude towards time. If these negative attitudes toward time remain unaddressed, they can seriously undermine the success of relationship skills training. Conversely, fostering implicit positive attitudes toward time can facilitate more positive outcomes in therapy and psychoeducational skills training.

This workshop will present how to administer and interpret two TP inventories, as well as past research describing how individuals maintaining each of these time perspectives approach their present and future decision making and relationships. Examples from past marital therapy sessions and relationship skills workshops will be shared where participants’ time perspectives revealed themselves constructively or negatively in building commitment to treatment and the practice of new relationship skills. Early clinical applications of TP to therapy have proven effective in working with veterans and PTSD.

In addition, this workshop will explore applying TP to new terrain: couple communication skills training, and in particular the teaching of Relationship Enhancement Skills. Drawing from this new Time Perspective Therapy, participants will openly dialogue about strategies for utilizing TP, whether in couples therapy or structured group relationship education. In this way, clinicians and educators may enhance their ability to embrace and leverage time as a resource for, rather than as a barrier to, relationship skills training.

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

  1. Utilize the six different time perspectives identified in TP inventories in their clinical or psychoeducational work.
  2. Describe differential impacts TP has on individuals’ decision-making and behaviors, and couple dynamics, which influence commitment to relationship change.
  3. Apply strategies for integrating TP into Relationship Enhancement and/or Filial practice.

Dr. Jim Koval has been on faculty in the Child Development and Family Studies program at California State University, Long Beach since 1982. He is an Approved Clinical Supervisor in AAMFT, and maintained a clinical practice for over 20 years. He has taken a step back from clinical work due to changing administrative responsibilities at the university including chairing a department, creating and directing a master’s degree in emergency management, developing an accelerated pre-medicine program with St. George’s University, Grenada and most recently serving as Interim Dean of the largest college on campus, Health and Human Services. Jim first met Bernie as a graduate student at Texas Tech in 1977 when Bernie came to offer an RE skills training. He next revisited RE many years later in 2003 when he became a Certified RE Program Leader/Educator. Jim was the co-author of a $670,000 three-year marriage education grant in Orange County, CA focused on Couples Relationship Enhancement. With plans to retire in the next few years he is exploring an interest he has had since his dissertation days, how the social psychology of time influences couples’ relationships and clinical/educational opportunities for creating positive change.

Healing Multi-Partner Infidelity through the Relationship Enhancement Model by Building Intimate Partner Attachment

Presenter: Goli Bellinger, M.S.W., LICSW, LCSW-C

Friday, April 6, 2:00 – 5:15 p.m. 3 CE Credits

The discovery of infidelity (in all of its forms) spins a couple into a major life crisis.  Multi-partner infidelity seems to be even more daunting for the couple, as well as the therapist. This session will explore how to establish a pathway for lasting healing by identifying and addressing intimate partner detachment. Relationship Enhancement therapy is used to get the couple out of the immediate crisis state, manage intense feelings, and begin the building of secure attachment for a mutually satisfying relationship.

Case examples from a diverse caseload of American, immigrant, and intercultural couples, including same-sex partners, will highlight that during these sexual episodes, there is impaired attachment to the partner. The role of empathy, starting with the good, and the structured dialogue process are profound in creating safety in 1) physiologically calming each individual, 2) breaking down the content to focus on discrete components, and 3) giving the therapist a sense of control and direction. The structured RE model increases emotional safety and creates ongoing space to establish a more secure attachment to the partner in multiple ways as well as repair attachment injuries, both from the partner and childhood. Case studies will illustrate the journey via the Relationship Enhancement model to create a pathway to preventing relapse, maintain partner attachment and healing.

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

  1. Identify and employ the safety mechanisms of the RE therapy process that facilitate crisis management, the building of secure partner attachment and mutual satisfaction.
  2. Identify and safely explore limited partner attachment and detachment, including with episodes of multi-partner infidelity

  3. More effectively utilize RE troubleshooting to establish leadership and maintain confidence and control throughout the therapy process

Goli Amin Bellinger, M.S.W., LICSW, is a couples therapist in Washington DC. In 2006, together with Mary Ortwein, she created the program Relationship Enhancement® for Refugees and Immigrants at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. She also consults on mental health and family trauma with immigrant and asylum-seeking populations, including as adjunct faculty at University of Maryland School of School Work.


Dinner, Friday Night, April 6, 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 be certain to sign up on the Registration Form. Advance payment is not necessary, but we do need to be able to give an accurate count to the restaurant.

Saturday Workshops

Do as I Do:  Applications of Underlying Theoretical Constructs within Relationship Enhancement and Filial Play Therapy for Clinical Supervision

Presenter: Mary Ortwein, M.S., LMFT

Saturday, April 7, 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 3 CE credits

Courses in effective clinical supervision methods often emphasize that a supervisor should work from a supervision theory, and that supervision theory should reflect an appreciation for the therapy methods being used by supervisees. Thus, marriage and family therapy supervisors often include two supervisees in an individual supervision session and have regular group supervision sessions to reflect the systemic nature of family interventions. Or supervisors and supervisees using psychodynamic interventions will often focus on therapist filters or countertransference and the supervisor-supervisee relationship.

The patterns and structures of supervision taught by Drs. Bernard and Louise Guerney fit the underlying client-centered, behavioral, systems, and psycho-dynamic theoretical sources of Relationship Enhancement and Filial Therapies. This workshop will identify and demonstrate how core theoretical concepts of the RE/Filial therapies can be applied to both individual and group supervision sessions.

This workshop will utilize theoretical orientation to RE and Filial principles, live and/or video demonstration of supervision applications, and small group discussion of how to apply the methods presented in participants’ own supervisory work

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

  1. Apply theoretical underpinnings of RE and Filial Play Therapy to clinical supervision.
  2. Utilize common supervision strategies that match theoretical underpinnings of RE and Filial Play Therapy in role-play scenarios
  3. Apply the theoretical underpinnings to a structure for group supervision.

Mary Ortwein, MS., LMFT, is a Certified Relationship Enhancement and Filial Supervisor and has supervised young professionals for over thirty years. She has been a Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor in Kentucky since 2002. She has supervised over 50 interns in Marriage and Family Therapy Masters programs as well as professionals for licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy in Kentucky.

Challenging Cases in Couple and Family Therapy: Theory and Practice within Relationship Enhancement Therapy

Presenter: Robert Scuka, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW-C

Saturday, April 7, 2:00 – 5:15 p.m. 3 CE Credits

Every practitioner encounters couples and families who pose exceedingly challenging and complex issues that appear intractable and may result in deadlock and/or the end of a relationship. Examples include clients who exhibit extreme anger and defensiveness, blaming behaviors that disown personal responsibility, a lack of empathy or difficulty in learning to become empathic, a high level of being narcissistic or self-absorbed, or being so convinced of being “right” that they cannot comprehend the intrinsic subjectivity of their position, and thereby standing in a position of arrogant superiority over the partner or other family members. The process of therapy poses a variety of challenging moments that call upon the therapist to (hopefully) exercise good therapeutic judgment about how to respond or intervene in the moment in order to break through a therapeutic impasse that allows the therapy to move forward.

This workshop will present a number of case examples from within Relationship Enhancement Therapy in order to examine the clients’ use of the RE dialogue process and the therapist’s interventions at various points in their therapeutic work. Particular attention will be given to the use of Therapist Becoming to deepen and clarify the Expresser’s experience and the use of Therapist Troubleshooting to clarify and sharpen an issue in order to advance the clients’ engagement of the issue.

In addition to the presenter’s case presentations, workshop participants are encouraged to bring their own challenging cases for discussion and peer feedback regarding potentially helpful strategies for dealing with those cases. Challenging cases with successful outcomes that illustrate the use of RE Therapy techniques are also welcome.

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

  1. Conceptualize with greater clarity some of the clinical challenges they encounter in their own clinical work and make more skillful choices about how to deal with them effectively
  2. Apply the advanced RE therapist skill of Becoming with greater effectiveness
  3. Apply the advanced RE therapist skill of Therapist Troubleshooting with greater effectiveness.

Robert Scuka, Ph.D., M.S.W., is Executive Director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE) in Bethesda, 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.

Registration Information

Location: The RE and Filial Therapy Conference  annual meeting and workshops will be held at the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE) conference suite 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 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. 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. 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 workshop will be 3 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 workshop will earn attendees 3 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 currently enrolled, full-time graduate students is $10.00 for each workshop, or $30 for all four workshops.

Lunch: Lunch each day is the responsibility of each participant, though arrangements will be made to provide lunch on Saturday for those who wish. The cost will be $10.00 per person. Please see the registration form below for details.

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, April 6 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: Discounted hotel rooms are available at the DoubleTree Hotel at 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda. To secure the discounted rate, please call 1-844-545-8107 or 301-652-2000 and ask for the “NIRE” rate. The Thursday night rate for April 6 is $169; the Friday night April 6 rate is $99. It might be worthwhile, however, to check on-line rates at the time you intend to register. These discounted rates are available until the hotel reaches a certain point of capacity for the respective dates, so you are advised to make reservations as early as possible. Information about alternative accommodations can be provided when you register.

For Further Information about arrangements, call the NIRE Administrative Office at 301-680-8977.

Registration: To register, please

(1) call NIRE at 301-680-8977

(2) send your Registration Form by fax to 1-240-238-2764

or (3) mail your Registration Form and check to: NIRE, 3914 Kincaid Terrace, Kensington, MD 20895-1519.

Caution: Do not send credit card information via email.

Registration Form

Special Conference Workshop Registration Form

We look forward to seeing you there!

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