Full Course Description

Breakthrough Results with Difficult Men: Terry Real on Working with Narcissists, Bullies, Boy-Men and Avoidants

Program Information


         Session 1 - Straight Talk, Hard Truths and An Open Heart

  • Evolution of masculinity – the challenge of power
  • Development of relational approach – relationship to psychodynamic therapy
    • Therapist as relational, self-disclosing individual
  • Addressing relative individual involvement in couple pathology
  • Traditional concepts of patriarchy – benefits of egalitarian relationships
  • Current trauma and neuropsychological approaches and limitations of the research in couples work
    • Adaptive approaches become counterproductive with age
  • Increasing intimacy and sensitivity without feminization 
    • Influence of culture and “me too” movement
    • Challenging myths of masculinity and femininity
  • Relational Life Therapy approach to managing male withdrawal and intimidation
    • Confronting grandiosity and privilege
    • Establishing leverage and power
    • Accepting intimacy and gains when offered
  • Primary types of difficult men – boy-man, bully, narcissist, avoidant
    • Gratification and relational joy
    • Pursuant-avoidant relational dynamic
  • Characteristics of effective Relational Life Therapy therapists – balancing power and nurturance


          Session 2 - An Abusive Bully Faces His Own Trauma

  • Working to increase intimacy
    • Dynamic of interaction – rage vs silence
    • Making realities collide
  • Evaluating relative positions – selecting specific points of intervention
    • Beginning with positive vision, evaluation of relational stance
    • Moving from complaint to request
  • Approaches to confrontation – preparing and asking permission
    • Addressing affective dissonance
    • Breaking up the dance – searching for something new
    • Monitoring reactions to confrontation – modulating affect
  • Diagnostic phase of interview – assessing reactions
    • Siding with conflicting perceptions
    • Role of therapist in session – necessity of personal investment
    • Reactive anger vs characterological anger
  • Control and dependency in abusive relationships
    • Roots in family of origin – adaptive nature of stance
    • Facilitating trust and open expression
    • Parallels with trauma work – empathic reversal
    • Impact of prior trauma on current relationship – role of abandonment feelings
  • Approaches to wounded child, adaptive child and functional adult roles
  • Basic phases of Relational Life Therapy – therapist stance
  • When one partner is damaged – adjunctive care options
  • Closing sessions – summary and closure

         Session 3 - A Shaming Dad Discovers a New Way to Parent  

  • Confronting hopelessness – identifying map for treatment
    • RLT is a post patriarchal therapy – deconstructing masculinity
  • Attending to two realities – identifying point of leverage and intervention
    • Therapist willingness to identify problematic behavior and take sides
  • Working effectively with grandiose individuals – confronting ego syntonic behaviors
    • Diagnosis and setting the stage for intervention
    • Identifying discord and negative aspects of parenting styles – costs of shaming
    • Forming alliance with the best part of the man – warm regard, logical presentation
  • Moving from observer to coach - preparing transition toward family of origin
    • Development of adaptive child role – reaction to power
    • Converting shame to grandiosity – central motif of masculinity
  • Authoritarian vs democratic parenting styles
    • Identification with abusive parent
  • Therapeutic and selective use of attunement, confrontation and nurturing
  • Dealing with the family pathology of toxic masculinity
  • Clarifying consequences – harsh realities delivered in the context of therapeutic alliance
  • Prescription of concrete skills and interactions
  • Therapist transparency – expression of emotion

Session 4 – A Selfish Boy-Man Gets a Lesson in Empathy 

  • Family of origin as source of dysfunction – avoiding blame
  • RLT diagnostic technique and pacing
  • Responding to negative interactions in session
    • Appropriate discrepancy to allow both alliance and change
    • Using attention to reinforce and compel engagement
  • Use of self in therapy – freedom of expression
    • Establishing trust with truth and authenticity
  • Video demonstration – implementing confrontation
    • Countering evasions, “slippery moves” from participants
    • Meeting momentum with countermomentum – making realities collide
    • Role of psychoeducation – developing concrete relational skills
  • Empathic reversal – identification with perpetrator
  • Using different language to speak to functional adult, adaptive child, wounded child
  • Three types of Narcissism – proper, hysterical, obsessive-compulsive
  • Language of the moment – the charm of precision
    • Effective confrontation
  • Privileged obliviousness – undoing patriarchy one couple at a time
    • Remedial empathy – sensitivity training
    • Acting as client agent
    • Gender differences in couple therapy
  • Closing therapy – relieving responsibility, offering confidence and hope
    • Follow up report – divorce proceedings

Session 5 – An Avoidant Man Learns to Show Up

  • Addressing avoidance in couple relationship
    • Establishing agreement about engaging in conflict
    • Family of origin influences – harsh and remote parenting as source of avoidance
  • Type 1 and 2 love avoidance – neglect vs enmeshment in family of origin
    • Reactivity to issues of control, judgement or contempt
  • Framing interventions to deepen connection and understanding
  • Unblending adaptive child from adult – empathy and self-disclosure
    • Normalizing the avoidant dynamic – seeking openness, new patterns
    • Facilitating adoption of new patterns of relationship – coaching
  • Negotiating a structure for effective communication
    • The four steps of the feedback wheel – occurrence, affect, cognition, request
  • Therapy pacing – moving through levels and modes of engagement
  • Types of resistant clients and methods of approach
  • Inner child work – connecting adaptive child with functional adult
    • Relationship between RLT and Internal Family Systems – shared and differing goals
    • Working with adaptive child vs wounded child – relational focus vs healing the inner child
  • Do’s and don’t’s of the RLT approach
    • Countering empathic reversal – caring for the wounded child
  • Type 1 and Type 2 love avoidant individuals – sources of threat
  • Addressing the wounded child – protection from the functional adult
  • Evaluating and sustaining gains – maintaining the energy


  • Differentiate Relational Life Therapy from traditional couple therapy approaches.
  • Characterize the four primary styles of male dysfunction in couple relationships.
  • Prioritize adjunctive interventions when one partner is damaged by prior trauma.
  • Demonstrate each partner’s stance into their family of origin, working with childhood trauma in front of one another.
  • Effectively communicate treatment goals and necessary therapeutic steps to couples.
  • Discover how to have the confidence to trust your own intuition and training in a session with a couple.
  • Conceptualize traditional toxic masculinity and methods to counteract intergenerational transmission.
  • Prescribe concrete behavioral instructions to improve couple relationships and parenting skills
  • Identify the systemic dynamic, the repeating vicious circle, couples become stuck in.
  • Discriminate between the three types of narcissism and choose appropriate strategies of intervention.
  • Recognize each partner’s self-defeating stance (angry pursuer) and their contribution to the dynamic between them.
  • Anticipate negative reactions in therapy and structure responses that reinforce and compel engagement.
  • Use a psycho-educational approach to intimacy and precisely unearthing and prescribing what right would look like.
  • Categorize the parts of wounded child, adaptive child and functional adult and organize appropriate approaches to each.

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses Educators
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

Copyright : 04/10/2019

Module 2: Jerome & Cindy, An Abusive Bully Faces His Own Trauma

Copyright : 11/27/2018

Module 3: Tom & Ann, A Shaming Dad Discovers a New Way to Parent

Copyright : 11/27/2018

Module 4: Bill & Staci, A Selfish Boy-Man Gets a Lesson in Empathy

Copyright : 11/27/2018

Module 5: Tim & Marty, An Avoidant Man Learns to Show Up

Copyright : 11/27/2018

BONUS: Gender Roles in Marriage: How They've Changed


  1. Explain why polarity and sexual tension are essential to the health of romantic relationships.


  • Explain why polarity and sexual tension are essential to the health of romantic relationships.
    • Exciting sex naturally involves a good amount of dominance, submission, and power
    • Women like men who do manly things, although they don’t want to be oppressed by it
    • Polarity emphasizes clear definitions of what it means to be a man and a woman, in line with predominant social constructions
    • “Soft” men are usually seen as less desirable; many women prefer a natural aggressiveness in sexual matters
  • Identify the three phases Terry says are necessary for women to get what they want out of relationships with men.
    • Daring to rock the boat: being upfront and confrontational about your needs and desires
    • Helping him out: teaching your partner how to be your partner
    • Making it worth his while: reducing complaining and giving positive reinforcement and encouragement
  • Describe three ways in which Millennials have reinterpreted gender roles.
    • Millennials are especially gender progressive
    • Millennial women aren’t pushing for a worthwhile career, they expect a worthwhile career
    • Millennial men are more comfortable performing tasks traditionally allotted for women, such as raising children and doing housework
    • Millennial men are more expressive and emotional, attributes traditionally associated with women

Program Information

Target Audience

Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, Case Managers, Addiction Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Nurses, and other Mental Health Professionals

Copyright : 07/28/2014