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Dancing With Dragons: Helping Clients Depolarize

Workshop Via Zoom & Zoom Breakout Rooms

Cost: $35* General/Professional; $20 Student/Elder
* We understand that COVID-19 has created economic stress for many, so if you are experiencing economic hardship due to COVID-19, the requested fee for webinars in this series is $10 (though no one will be turned away due to lack of funds-please contact Michelle for assistance at program[at]ehinstitute.org).

3 CE hours for Live Presentation participation. Fee : $18.50.


In this workshop, through didactic and experiential elements, the presenters will explore the nature of the dragon dance as a call for healing, and the development of polarized relational dynamics as a form of that dance that needs to be effectively addressed. Though, obviously, not all couples conflict is polarization, dynamics of polarization often emerge in most comprehensive couples therapies, so couples therapists need to understand polarization and how to help couples depolarize. Working effectively to defuse a polarized dynamic can open a territory of deeper vulnerability and sensitivity between partners, and strengthen the collaborative dimension of relationship.

Therapeutic Professionals Invited!

Join us as Lou and Chris illustrate an approach to helping couples identify, and work through their polarized dynamic. This workshop is intended to engage and enrich the work of therapeutic professionals who work in clinical settings.


This workshop is intended for clinicians who are interested in the dynamic, challenging territory of couples therapy. Romantic relationships inherently hold the human dilemma that we cannot open to love without opening to where we have been wounded in love. We all have dragons. Their job is to protect the gold; in the most fundamental sense, the continued existence of our essential self. Our dragons protect our wounded hearts. We might say dragons continue to breathe fire until the core wound they are protecting is recognized. In this way, the dragon dance is a call for mutual healing.


Sometimes this dance is one in which partners become polarized. Relational polarization is a specific type of conflict dynamic that frequently presents in couples therapy as an irreconcilable impasse: the endless argument that returns again and again but goes nowhere. Typically, in this condition, each partner is convinced they hold the correct view – and each partner’s dragon can become fiercer and more entrenched. In a polarized dynamic, the emotional field between partners is dominated by a sense of life and death, all or nothing, no middle ground, no room for compromise, no one has my back – I am on my own.

In a polarized dynamic, the gravitational pull from partners to take their side can be intense for the therapist. In the context of this pull, it can be extremely helpful for the therapist to imagine that partners caught in this dynamic are representing opposing positions along a values continuum. Some common examples are: saving-spending, work-play, dependency-independence, spontaneity-planning. In this way, the task of the couples therapist is helping partners recognize that each of their positions holds value for the whole.

In this workshop, the presenters will share an “origin story” of their struggle around the decision to have a child, and will illustrate an approach to helping couples identify, and work through their polarized dynamic. They will emphasize the need for couple partners to encounter and work collaboratively with each other’s core wounds in order to shift out of the dragon dance into one that is depolarized, adaptive, more secure and more gratifyingly intimate.

Who is This Training For?

This training is for licensed/pre-licensed therapeutic professionals as well as students currently enrolled in Master’s/Doctorate programs in related fields.

Students, psychologists, MFTs, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and doctors are all encouraged to attend!

Our Presenters

Christine Armstrong, LMFT EHI Affiliate Instructor

Christine established her private practice in 1976. Her work focuses on depth psychotherapy and she combines an Existential-Humanistic approach with a psychodynamic perspective. She and her husband of 35 years, Lou Dangles, have been doing couples and group work together for the past 20 years. She has trained extensively with Dr. Jim Bugental and Dr. Irv Yalom. More recently her training has included Ariadne Beck’s “group-as-a-whole” model with Jim Fishman. She is currently in private practice in San Anselmo, where she works with couples, individuals, and groups.

Louis Dangles, LMFT EHI Affiliate Instructor

Louis established his private practice in 1976. His work focuses on depth psychotherapy and he combines an Existential-Humanistic approach with archetypal and psychodynamic perspectives. He has trained extensively with Dr. Jim Bugental and Dr. Irv Yalom. More recently his training has included Dr. Ariadne Beck’s “group- as-a-whole” model with Jim Fishman. He is currently in private practice in San Anselmo, where he works with couples, individuals, and groups.

*Continuing Education Info


  • APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. APA Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

  • Accessibility: It is the policy of EHI to make every reasonable effort to provide attendees with disabilities with the opportunity to take full advantage of its programs. Please contact us ahead of time so we can work with you arrange programming to needs. Please contact our admin, Michelle, by email at program[at]ehinstitute.org or phone at 415.689.1475 to make arrangements.

APA Division 32, Society of Humanistic Psychology(SHP), is a proud cosponsor of CE credits for EHI events and trainings whenever CE credits are offered. Find out more about SHP and consider becoming a member here.