From Reactivity to Empowerment in Couple Therapy: Insights from Interpersonal Neurobiology

When:  Jun 17, 2022 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (ET)
Date and Time: Friday, June 17th, 2022 10:00 AM ET – 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Dr. Mona Fishbane
CE Credits:
2 (General MFT Credits)

Event Description

Couples in distress often get caught up in cycles of emotional reactivity, each blaming the other and seeing self as victim—a linear view. This lecture explores ways to identify and diagram the couple’s dance using the Vulnerability Cycle Diagram first described by Mona Fishbane and Michele Scheinkman in 2004. The therapist helps the couple understand the circular nature of their impasse, and the ways in which both are victims of and the (inadvertent) co-creators of the cycle. We will explore ways to identify and work with each partner’s vulnerabilities and survival strategies, often rooted in the family of origin, and situated within the larger sociocultural context. The discussion will be informed by the latest research from interpersonal neurobiology, including the dynamics of emotion dysregulation, techniques for emotion regulation, and the tension between habits and change. Dr. Fishbane’s approach enhances partners’ relational empowerment, including self-regulation, choice, living according to one’s higher goals and values, and reaching for one’s “best self.”

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify and diagram couple vulnerability cycles, including vulnerabilities and survival strategies.
  2. Identify the neurobiology underlying emotional reactivity in couples.
  3. Utilize interventions with couples to enhance emotion regulation, generosity, and empathy.
  4. Facilitate relational empowerment in couple therapy.


Mona D. Fishbane, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in New Jersey and Illinois, is senior faculty and former Director of Couple Therapy Training, Chicago Center for Family Health. Mona is on the Advisory Board of Family Process journal, and has served as an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and Board member, American Family Therapy Academy. Mona lectures nationally and internationally, and has published numerous articles on couple therapy and neurobiology as well as on intergenerational relationships. Mona has been the recipient of honors and fellowships, including a grant from the Templeton Foundation, and the 2017 Family Psychologist of the Year Award from The American Psychological Association (Society for Couple & Family Psychology). Mona’s book, Loving with the Brain in Mind: Neurobiology & Couple Therapy (2013), is part of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology. Mona’s website:

Registration Fees:

  • CIRTIN Student Members - FREE
  • CIRTIN Professional Members - $20.00
  • AAMFT Student Members - FREE
  • AAMFT Professional Members - $40.00
  • Non-Members - $60.00
  • Non-Member Students - FREE (please contact network at

Registration Dates

Registration Ends Friday, June 17, 2022

Pricing Information

Registration Price
Couples Network Students $0.00
Couples Network Members $20.00
AAMFT Students Waived
AAMFT Members $40.00
Non-Members $60.00
Non-member Student (contact network) Waived
Special Waived
Event Image


Rafee Al-Mansur