Love Between Dishes, Betrayals, and Threats: Intimate Witnessing in Narrative Couples Therapy


Saturday April 18, 2020  (9am - 5pm) | 7CEUs


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It has been our privilege to discover, together with our clients, extraordinary stories of love in the midst of ordinary yelling matches about chores, betrayals, sex, indifference and abuse that couples experience. In the midst of these dramatic exchanges in our therapy rooms, we were pressed to find Narrative means for couples to tell their stories in a way that does not shy away from the veritable catastrophes of love and yet, invites them to risk stepping passionately into each other’s worlds.


In this one day workshop, we will talk you through the theoretical, philosophical and ethical underpinnings that have informed our practice. In particular, we will highlight the feminist and Narrative ideas that we have vitally relied on to fashion conversations with couples that seek to undermine deadly assumptions about love, gender, power, and distress that have dispossessed couples from their unique moral commitments and artistries in the realms of love.


We will show you, story-by-story, step-by-step, a way of inviting couples to be intimate witnesses of each other and the entirely surprising effects of such invitations on our conversations and subsequently our couple’s lives and loves. We will do so by inviting you to take a close look at our session transcripts, therapy videos, and therapeutic documents.


…So I started crying:


Hey beautiful,

Let’s go share some fries

And talk about exactly

What we mean

When we talk about



(Excerpt from a therapeutic couple’s poem)


“-Love is work.

No no. Love is not that, not that.

-Love is dead.

No. Incorrect. Love is not dead, not


(Lord Birthday)


Sanni Paljakka is a narrative therapist and Director at the Calgary Narrative Collective. Tom Stone Carlson is a faculty member at North Dakota State University, and co-editor of the journal of Narrative Therapy and draws on narrative ideas in his teaching, supervision, and therapy practice. After a chance meeting at a narrative therapy conference, they discovered a shared interest in narrative ideas that can transform a conversation, undermine taken for granted power hierarchies, demoralize problem stories, and restore people’s acts and arts of living to their unique beauty and trustworthiness. Sanni and Tom presented of their work nationally and internationally over the past several years.


Workshop Timeline

9am to 5pm with 10 minute morning and afternoon break. Lunch- 12:30 to 1:30pm.


Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn how to help couples undermine deadly assumptions about love, gender, power, and distress that have dispossessed couples from their unique moral commitments and artistries in the realms of love.
  2. Participants will learn how inviting couples to be intimate witnesses to each other’s experience makes it possible for people to enter into spaces of greater intimacy and accountability in their relationships.
  3. Participants will learn how to practice intimate accountability interviews through first-hand accounts of our therapy work in the form of videos and transcripts.

Course to take place at

Southern California Counseling Center

5615 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019



Completion Certificates: Certificates of Completion will be e-mailed to participants within 14 days of the completion of the program.


SCCC Alumni receive a discount for this training, as they do with all trainings that have a fee. Register below! Current SCCC counselors are FREE to attend -- please do not register below, but contact Louise White ( to add your name to the list. (7 CEUs)


The Southern California Counseling Center is approved by CAMFT (Provider # 62299) to provide continuing education for MFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. This course satisfies the BBS requirement for seven (7) hours of continuing education in the area of Supervision.


For information on the SCCC Cancellation Policy, Grievance Policy, and ADA Compliance, visit our guidelines and policies page or email John Berndt at



Donation Amount*
  • $200 -- General Public
  • $100 -- SCCC Alumni & Supervisor Discount

This training is FREE for CURRENT SCCC COUNSELORS - email to be added to the list. 

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