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Estranged Relationships: Clinical Tools to Navigate the Divide Between Family Members

Joshua Coleman, PhD
Approx. 6 Hours
Nov 07, 2022
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DVD - Also available: Digital Seminar | Live Webinar

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Estrangement from family is on the rise. And therapists are being asked to weigh in on these separations.

Clients use therapy to work through so many challenging family-related experiences - toxic communication styles.. childhood trauma.. lack of attuned parenting.. unchecked sibling rivalry.. parental divorce.. mental illness or addiction in a family member..

What should you do when clients begin to lean toward cutting off family members? When is estrangement the best choice? How can you know whether the family system is truly toxic? What if your client cuts off contact and it creates more problems than it solves?

Maybe you are seeing cut-off family members in your practice. They are hurting and confused about their role in what happened. Therapists can easily misstep and unintentionally make existing separations worse.

Joshua Coleman, PhD is the author of The Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict and a leading expert on family relationships. He’s appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, PBS and other major media outlets. More than an expert, Dr. Coleman brings his lived experience to this important work as a father whose daughter cut off contact for several years and later reconciled.

Watch Dr. Coleman for this one-day seminar and fill the knowledge and practice gap around estrangement so that you will be able to:

  • Respond with confidence to clients who ask your opinion about cutoffs
  • Gain tools for addressing tension, conflict, and boundary-setting
  • Support your clients experiencing estrangement-related guilt, shame, trauma, and grief
  • Implement key interventions for facilitating a potential reconciliation

Don’t miss this chance to provide your clients with the emotional tools they need to reconcile when it’s possible and move forward when it’s not.

Purchase today!


CE Information Coming Soon

Continuing education credit information is coming soon for this non-interactive self-study package.

CEs may be available for select professions, as listed in the target audience. Hours will be dependent on the actual recording time. Please check with your state licensing board or organization for specific requirements. 

There may be an additional fee for CE certificates. Please contact our Customer Service at 1-800-844-8260 for more details. 

**Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of mental health professionals. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.


Joshua Coleman, PhD's Profile

Joshua Coleman, PhD Related seminars and products

Joshua Coleman, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and a Senior Fellow with the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-partisan organization of leading sociologists, historians, psychologists, and demographers dedicated to providing the press and public with the latest research and best-practice findings about American families. He is the author of several books, including Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict, and When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along. Dr. Coleman has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including Atlantic Magazine, Psychology Today, The New York Times, and He has television and radio appearances including on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, Sesame Street, and NPR. 


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Joshua Coleman maintains a private practice. He receives royalties as a published author. Dr. Coleman receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Joshua Coleman has no relevant non-financial relationships.

Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Describe three common reasons that estrangements occur.
  2. Analyze generational differences in understanding abuse, harm, neglect, and trauma.
  3. Evaluate two differences between alienation and estrangement.
  4. Choose treatment strategies to reduce estrangement-related trauma and grief.
  5. Plan interventions for estranged family members based on knowledge of their current mental health status.
  6. Manage countertransference issues rooted in the therapist’s own family relationships.


Pathways to Estrangement
  • Common reasons for estrangement and what they mean for your practice
  • Collectivism versus individualism - changing meaning of family
  • Generational differences in understanding abuse, harm, neglect, and trauma
  • How to prepare for and deal with threats to the status quo of family dynamics
  • Key assessment questions to evaluate estrangement history and potential
From Setting Boundaries to Cutting Off Contact
  • Guidelines for discerning the level of toxicity of the family system
  • Differences between emotional cut-off, alienation, and estrangement
  • Address tension, reduce conflict, and set boundaries
  • When you know the diagnosis of non-client family members
  • Common mistakes of therapists in the arena of blame and shame
Clinical Tools for When the Client is the Initiator of the Estrangement
  • Overcome obstacles that maintain painful feelings of rejection, fear, guilt, and anger
  • Confidently answer the “is this relationship healthy?” question
  • Manage estrangement-related guilt and shame
  • Re-configuring family: support identity changes that occur along with estrangement
  • Treat estrangement-related trauma and grief
  • Tailored interventions for when the initiator has mental illness or addiction
Therapy Strategies for When the Client is the Estranged Individual
  • Clinical approaches to doing no harm
  • Strategies for facilitating a potential reconciliation
  • How to help clients cope when there are cycles of contact
  • Re-establish identity stability in the face of ambiguous grief and shame
  • Interventions for estranged parents
  • Considerations for when the estranged individual has mental illness or addiction
Clinical Considerations
  • Manage countertransference issues rooted in the therapists’ family relationships
  • Ethics in family estrangement
  • Determining when to work with additional family members or the whole family system
  • How to collaborate with co-providers when there is a family estrangement
  • Support resources for estranged family members
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Physicians
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Psychiatric Nurses


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