Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink (Hardcover)

Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink By Peter Fraenkel Cover Image

Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink (Hardcover)


Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days

Strategies and skills for therapists working with couples about to dissolve.

Therapy with couples on the brink of relationship dissolution involves unique challenges. Partners present with high levels of conflict, low levels of intimate connection, disdain and discouragement, and limited patience or hope. These couples have often tried therapy without lasting success, and announce that “this is our last chance.” Partners want to see evidence in the first session that the therapist can offer something new and that change is possible.


Peter Fraenkel presents a practical, creative, integrative approach that combines action- and insight-oriented techniques to help last-chance couples manage conflict, modulate intense negative emotions, address power struggles, develop mutual compassion, and restore emotional intimacy and pleasurable connection. Special attention is paid to developing a collaborative therapeutic alliance when partners have little motivation for therapy or faith that it can be effective. Through engaging in “nonbinding experiments in possibility,” partners can then better evaluate whether to “stay or go.”

Peter Fraenkel Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at City College of New York; former faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and NYU Medical Center; and is in private practice in New York City. He is the author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (2011, Palgrave-Macmillan), and co-authored The Relational Trauma of Incest: A Family-Based Approach to Treatment (2001, Guilford). Dr. Fraenkel lectures and conducts therapist trainings internationally. He received the American Family Therapy Academy’s 2012 award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy. He is a former Vice President and current Board Member of AFTA, Board Member, Minuchin Center for the Family, and a reviewer for several family therapy journals.
Product Details ISBN: 9781324016250
ISBN-10: 1324016256
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: January 10th, 2023
Pages: 432
Language: English
With great mastery, Peter Fraenkel pulls back the curtain to reveal the inner workings of his three-decade-long practice with the most precarious couples. Last Chance Couple Therapy is a curious and illuminating read for therapists, coaches, and clinicians.

— Esther Perel, psychotherapist, author and host of Where Should We Begin?

All couple therapists need to read this amazing book that opens the door to a very important, but overlooked group of couples: those on the brink of divorce, or worse, a lifetime of loveless life together. These couples deserve to see a therapist who uses a research- and theory-based therapy approach to help them restore hope and happiness. Now all couple therapists can reach these couples by following the program Dr. Fraenkel presents in this new and exciting book. He is also one of the best writers you will read in the plethora of books on couple therapy, so not only will you learn this exciting new approach, but you will really enjoy reading the book.
— Howard Markman, PhD, founder of the PREP approach, coauthor of Fighting FOR Your Marriage

This remarkable book, based on more than three decades of clinical work and richly illustrated with many detailed case vignettes, is a must-read for any couple therapist—and not only for those working with seemingly hopeless couples presenting with a long history of failed therapies. Fraenkel’s ‘open-hearted surgery’ approach demonstrates convincingly that by continuously generating a vast range of different creative contexts, even the most entrenched couples get a chance to change their interactions and improve their lives. Amazing!
— Prof. Dr. Eia Asen, Anna Freud Centre and University College London

Peter Fraenkel’s brilliant new book focuses on a crucial, special group of clients in couple therapy, those for whom the therapy really is the last chance. Anchored in his therapeutic palette approach that draws from a wide range of therapies, Fraenkel offers a keen understanding of these couples as well as the complex integrative therapy that can help them resolve this life crisis. Filled with poignant clinical vignettes and workable guidance for practice and drawing from Fraenkel’s highly innovative toolkit for intervention that includes music and art, this clearly is the definitive book on this subject and the book that couple therapists should read this year.
— Jay L. Lebow, PhD, ABPP, senior scholar and clinical professor, the Family Institute at Northwestern and Northwestern University

If, as Minuchin said, that therapy is 'like a Tango,' Peter Fraenkel’s Last Chance Couples Therapy lays out the steps for therapists who, in teaching couples who’ve lost their steps how to dance as partners, learn how to heal one another and themselves for all of life’s many dances.

— Jay Lappin, M.S.W., LCSW

Peter Fraenkel’s new book is chock-full of wisdom gained from years of clinical practice working with couples on the brink of divorce, often with high conflict. Fraenkel offers concrete clinical interventions and clinical vignettes along with extensive references to the literature in couple therapy. Peter's work is integrative and innovative. A solid, creative, insightful guide for the couple therapist working with these challenging couples.
— Mona DeKoven Fishbane, PhD, 2017 APA Div 43 Psychologist of the Year, author of Loving with the Brain in Mind