The story of how the Academy got started
When the pandemic started in March of 2020, and I switched my practice to online couples therapy, I started recording my sessions. I realized that I could create an online training program to fill in the missing piece in the training of couples therapists.
I’ve been working with couples my entire professional career in the Chicago area. After decades of helping couples in distress, I have acquired a reputation as someone who can deal with complex situations.
For over 18 years, as a professor of the Couples and Family Counseling program at Northeastern Illinois University, also in Chicago, I trained and supervised master level students who went on to become couples therapists themselves.
I’ve always thought that one piece missing in the training of couples therapists is that clinicians don’t have enough exposure to real life sessions, where they hear experienced therapists do this challenging work.
When I started recording my sessions, I asked the couples I was treating to give me permission not only to record, but also to share the sessions with a wider audience for training purposes. Many of them said: “Yes!”. It is due to their generosity and bravery that I can now offer this program to you.
During those first few months of recording the sessions, I started thinking that geography is no longer poses a limitation on reach, and couples therapists who want to get better at doing this work can access this information from anywhere in the English speaking world.
I also firmly believe in the need for framework integration because I don’t think we can apply only one model to all the couples that seek our help. So, I added the summary of some of the most well-known frameworks for doing couples therapy to the curriculum of the Academy, along with the tools and interventions derived from them. After all, that’s exactly what I did in my Couples Counseling classes back when I was teaching at the university.
I opened the Academy in September of 2020, as I continued working on the 12 Module curriculum. The feedback I received was so positive, that it gave me the impetus to continue developing the program.
Now, the 12 Module program is completed but I don’t want this program to be just another course. The monthly dripping of the content, allows the therapists to absorb the information at a slower pace, while interacting with other subscribers who are also trying to figure out how to do this challenging work with more confidence. This is a lonely profession, and we all need more support. The monthly zoom calls are a way for me to tell you: “You are not alone”.
I have made it my mission to help couples therapists become more confident and more effective, and I believe the Academy for Couples Therapists is a vehicle to get fulfill my mission.
I want to thank the brave couples who allowed me to share their struggles so couples therapists all over the world can learn from my work with them.
Dr.Sara Schwarzbaum, Ed.D, L.M.F.T & L.C.P.C., Founder