How to Become a Confident Couples Therapist with Dana McNeil and Nancy Ryan | PoP 498

How to Become a Confident Couples Therapist with Dana McNeil and Nancy Ryan | PoP 498

Are you a therapist seeking to better understand how to work with couples in conflict? What are some skills and mindsets you can adopt to better assist you and your clients? How can you become a confident couple’s therapist?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to become a confident couples therapist with Dana McNeil and Nancy Ryan.

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Meet Dana McNeil and Nancy Ryan

Photo of Dana McNeil who has built a successful private practice offering couples therapy and now offers a program to support couples therapists in growing their business.

Dana McNeil and Nancy Ryan are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and founders of thriving group practices specializing in couples therapy and utilizing an evidence-based type of couples therapy which is known as the Gottman Method. Dana and Nancy’s practices both work with all types of relationship issues, parents of special needs children, sex addiction therapy, LGBTQ+, as well as a number of individual and family issues.

Recently Dana and Nancy have come together to create Confident Couples Therapy, a program focused on bringing training, education, and support to couples therapists throughout the nation. Their mission is focused on helping therapists become confident in working with couples and building a successful, cash pay practice

Visit their website and get in touch via email:

In This Podcast


  • Skills for clinicians on how to handle couples in counseling sessions
  • Phases clinicians go through
  • Working on your big idea

Skills for clinicians on how to handle couples in counseling sessions

  • Keeping tabs on both clients at the same time to notice micro-expressions, and speaking for the one client when the need arises if you notice them zone out or react emotionally that their partner does not see or notice.
  • Handling conflict in the room and interrupting their argument patterns when you can see that they are going in circles, or not hearing one another.

Therapists can practice calling clients out as much as they call clients in to work together.

Phases clinicians go through

Learning how to be a couple’s therapist takes time to learn the theory but also a lot of time out in the field gaining experience. They need to learn how to manage different couples in the room, and it can take time to amass this experience.

  • You have to be able to notice the emotions that come into play in the room during a counseling session. There is a delicate balance between posing an intervention and sticking to the script. The trick is to know when to switch from one to the other; sometimes you have to let the script play out without intervening, and sometimes you have to intervene because staying on the script is not what is always essential. What is essential is that couples communicate effectively.
  • Clinicians need to learn to shift their mentality from counseling an individual to counseling couples because it is a completely different ball game. Couples counseling is more directive.
  • It can be difficult to get therapists used to being more direct but it is necessary when working with two people to have control in the room, and guide the process, instead of working with just one person.
  • Counselors need to get comfortable with speaking about the dynamics they notice in a couple, and then offer that couple tools to work through those dynamics.

Working on your big idea

Start with your ‘why’ and examine what needs you witness in your community that can be filled, is it couple-related, or more on an individual level?

Think about what your goal is, and what it is that you would like your initial idea to develop further into. Start fleshing out your journey from there.

Get your Free Copy of Three Conflict Busting Techniques Confident Couples Therapists Use To Manage Escalated Clients.

Books mentioned in this episode

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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