Véronique Gengler
Family and couple therapy
Family and couple therapy
Véronique Gengler

Family and judicial mediation

Bar training on
problems of high conflict separations
EMDR therapy

Véronique Gengler - Family and couple therapy


"Our doubts are traitors,

And deprive us of the good things we could often gain,

Because we are afraid to try" (Shakespeare)

For judges and lawyers

Published on 19-



Expertises in parental collaboration

Web Cam Therapy

Published on 04-



Assigning the right role to each of the partiesin the new expertise in parental collaboration when there is a loss of parental bond

Things will hopefully never be the same again.

We will finally be able to avoid, upstream, to soothe in full flow, to resolve, perhaps sometimes even downstream, those situations that are so painful of losing the bond with a child in the context of divorces where the conflict has taken over to the detriment of the children' bond  with their parents.


A conflict has a three-sided pyramidal configuration, which anchors it all the more firmly:

  • A legal side: this concerns the relationship between the parties in conflict: it may be a contractual relationship (whether or not it is a written agreement: marriage is one, the terms of a divorce decree) or a tortious relationship (abandonment of contract, abandonment of family, unpaid pensions);
  • An expert side: these are the more technical aspects of the conflict, for which expert advice is useful, as well as the 'practical', organisational or financial aspects.
  • An affective side: i.e. emotional, where affect dominates and sclerotizes the conflict to such an extent that a legal or technical settlement sometimes seems impossible.

In a traditional configuration of procedural development, this identification of the sides of a conflict allows for a better understanding of the role of third parties in the apprehension of conflicts and to find the flaw in this configuration:

  • The lawyer and the judge intervene on the legal side, examine what binds the parties and often stir up their conflict to bring about a decision;
  • The judge imposes a decision on the parties or suggests mediation, possibly relying on experts and the report made;
  • The expert gives an opinion, without taking into account the legal and emotional aspects; he or she is there to enlighten the judge, and can suggest a solution to the dispute, but can in no way substitute for the judge. He can also play this role with the mediator who will not retain a solution but will use the expertise in a consensual manner to facilitate the search for solutions.
  • If mediation takes place, the mediated solution(s) emerge from the process of renewed dialogue between the parties.

This mediation process is the opposite of a legal approach, since it first deals with the emotional side of the conflict, which it tries to clear up. It then addresses the search for options, possibly informed by an expert opinion. Only lastly, mediation addresses the legal nature of the relationship between the parties and promotes an agreement that takes this into account. Either the conflict is emptied and the legal side of the conflict is no longer present. Or a path has been travelled and the mediator returns the parties to their choice of maintaining the legal aspect of their conflict

This neutrality of the mediator differs from that of the expert (who gives an enlightened opinion based on his science, in principle neutral with regard to the parties but not with regard to his own presuppositions), but also from that of the lawyer (who looks favourably on the party he is defending, castigates the opposing party, or even stirs up differences between the parties), or even the judge (who makes a decision).

The mediator cannot and should not allow himself to position himself as an expert. Indeed, the expert is certainly independent and impartial, but he is not totally detached from the solution, his expertise leading to its imposition on the parties. Even more than providing a point of view, he gives a solution that is his own and that he submits to the judge. When we know that the judge has called upon him to find a solution to the problem, we can very well imagine that, in 85% of cases, it is proven that the judge follows the expert's opinion. The expert thus becomes a kind of extension of the judge's arm (possibly even his armed arm!), a "perceived as such although..." legal professional whose opinion will remain for a long time on the back of the people he has assessed, like an indelible seal. However, if the expert opinion is only a photograph of a moment in a conflict reflecting the psychological and social state of each family member, it remains a moment that is frozen and which, obviously, is part of a constantly evolving situation. Nothing changes faster than a family situation when it is allowed to evolve, to move forward. Unfortunately, expert opinions have a sad tendency to immobilise it and make it almost eternal, since it is immortalised in a verdict that is almost unassailable. And if the law makes it "res judicata", then...

Within the framework of the expert opinions as recommended by Benoît Vandieren, the new-style expert has the extraordinary opportunity and privilege of not having to position himself as a legal professional, and he can guide the parties towards a solution that is theirs and yet in accordance with the law: he takes charge of the conflict and the resolution of the conflictual atmosphere that can lead to the overall resolution of a dispute. Already in the course of the expertise, the situation evolves.

When a judicial expert is displeased, the temptation is great to attack the man, rather than his work. And, sometimes, the lawyer is tempted...

A fertile or litigious imagination could then insinuate that the expert: was biased, already had his solution, or threatened a party, or the latter's lawyer, why not, has already had a similar case, is not open to an alternative solution, etc.

Paul Bensussan, in his article "Quand l'expert s'asssoit dans le fauteuil du juge" (When the expert sits in the judge's chair), underlines another bias often encountered in family justice: "It is enough to observe the variability of the frequency of appointment of experts from one court to another (...) to be convinced that the threshold of intervention of the expert is extremely variable from one magistrate to another, from one jurisdiction to another: for some, the expert is appointed as soon as the separation is very conflictual; would one then expect a sort of mediation from the expertise? For others, on the contrary, there is no reason to call on an expert without a proven mental pathology.

In short, when it comes to expertise, if the report has been delivered, it is too late! If the report is biased, but without any factual reason to put on the table, how can you prove anything and how can you dare to engage in one more battle?

Unlike the traditional expert, the new expert, in parental collaboration, does not take the word of the parties, does not replace them, does not remain on the sidelines of the situation: he enters it and becomes an actor. The law tends to consider the individual as a person who is not responsible: it appoints an expert for him, judges him, reprimands him, punishes him. Here, the new expert confronts him with his contradictions, his behaviours and asks for his collaboration so that the children may restore  the relationship with the other parent.

Although the alienating parent is stuck in his or her attitude, which he or she is sure is the most appropriate, the new expert will, on the contrary, reinstate his or her dignity, make him or her an actor in his or her life and decisions, and give him or her back his or her "responsibility". The alienating parent, deep down, 'knows'. He knows that a child cannot be deprived of his other parent. The new expertise is going to dig into the alienating parent's heart to get him to collaborate.

With the cooperation of all, parties and lawyers can recognise the expert as someone who can contribute to the resolution and the resolution process.

The expert's role is not to resolve the dispute, but to analyse a dispute or a particular point in the dispute, related to the children or to practical arrangements, about which he confronts the parents and asks them for their solutions. He remains impartial in his dealings with the parties, but he is not neutral as to the solution since, by definition, he has more than a view of how the dispute should be resolved since he is trying to resolve it!

Comparative table between mediation and medical and psychological expertise



Medical and psychological expertise

Expertise with parental cooperation

Choice of parties

Independent choice

Imposed by the judge

Imposed by the judge

Approval agreement

By the judge at the option of the parties

Imposed by the judge

By the judge at the option of the parties


Deontological, insured

Assumed, but the process does not guarantee it

Deontological but serving children first


Deontological, insured




Deontological, insured

Assumed, but the process does not guarantee it

Deontological, in the service of children


Guaranteed and known to all because it is consensual

Uncontrollable by the parties

Guaranteed because it was put on the table from the start


Deontological, insured

None, judge receives detailed report

None, but knowingly for the parties


Optimal for the situation

No control by the parties

Optimal for the situation


More controlled because shorter


More controlled because shorter


Reaching an agreement between the parties

Reaching a "diagnosis" of the parties' situation

Achieving a breakthrough in the situation with the cooperation of the parties


Origin of the solution

The solution comes from the parties

The solution comes from the expert's understanding of the problem and is beyond the parties' control

The solution is determined by the parties in collaboration with the expert and the parties are empowered to achieve the objective

Becoming of the solution

The solution is in the hands of the parties

The solution eludes the parties

The solution is in the hands of the parties under the supervision of the judge

Qualification of the solution

A sustainable solution

A solution which, if imposed, may be inadequate

A permanent solution if parental cooperation is established

Future of the conflict

An emptied conflict

A conflict that can be reactivated

A conflict emptied, children reunited with a distant parent with an enforceable judgment





This being said, everything then has to change, every role of the different stakeholders has to be reviewed and rethought, constantly adaptable and adapted.

In my humble opinion, protocols should be implemented, multidisciplinary teams should be created and trained in this particular problem.

Throughout his reflections, actions and articles, Benoît Vandieren has put forward "flashing lights" that should alert us and make us react quickly.

If these indicators are used before the classic slow process of traditional justice, which is often well mastered and exploited by alienating parents, then one can hope to win the race against time and avoid the cementing of the loss of the bond as described by Benoît Vandieren in his article (....).

These protocols should be drawn up and then tested as soon as possible by professionals from all walks of life, police officers, Youth protection workers, experts in the field and concerned parents.

The implementation of these protocols requires a clear and accessible identification of professionals capable of reacting quickly and adequately to the situation. Any stakeholder faced with a "flashing light" situation should know who to contact, where, how and quickly. Downstream, a team should be ready to respond adequately and as quickly as possible.

Each actor has a role to play, important prerogatives to define.

This is only the draft of a suggestion and I think that all the actors should add what they suggest and help to develop protocols that could later be the basis for training.

The role of the judge.

He/she can rule before any divorce proceedings, in case of urgency, to decide on urgent provisional measures such as the expulsion of a violent spouse,

In this respect, the family court judge will work in partnership with the public prosecutor who will give an opinion.
He is seized by way of a request and it is at this stage that he can already identify the "flashing lights" and, if necessary, call on the skills of an expert in "parental collaboration".
He will not wait to check the accuracy of the emergency, or to decide on the urgent measures, i.e. the contribution to the maintenance and education of the children, the payment of fixed expenses. He will address the problems of the break-up of the relationship very quickly and in parallel, possibly, the practical arrangements.
Once the divorce procedure has been initiated, the judge becomes a central player because he will adapt his hearings and expectations to the continuous oral conclusions of the expert without waiting for the long expert reports which usually take more than 6 months.

At this stage, the first point of contact should be the parenting expert.

To contribute to this, it is absolutely necessary for the judge to have a transversal vision of the case, to have at hand and to be able to judge more efficiently all the elements involved in the separation: the civil judgments in the divorce and in the maintenance, which are often enlightening if only in view of the often edifying demands of certain parents. A Family Affairs Judge would allow this transversality.

The role of Youth Protection Services, AEMO,

Too often, these services, instead of playing a protective role, actually play the role of second assessor. They take the situation in hand, after a long period without any judicial reaction. And the situation drags on, becomes cemented. The service sets up an investigation, an evaluation of the parents' psychology, takes the time to form an opinion, and convenes parent and child in confrontation sessions. These sessions must absolutely be prescribed if there is any sign of trouble. These confrontations with different interveners, often multiplied between the different shrinks, judges, the child's lawyer, psychosocial services, interveners who change, the director who organises collective meetings, even the public prosecutor..., these multiple confrontations are only places where the child repeats ad infinitum, persuading himself or herself of this, or entering into the vicious circle of the lie that is believed, or anchoring the proposals in different official places, and in front of various personalities of justice, that he or she no longer wants any contact with his or her parent. He anchors, cements, engraves in the marble of justice the story that has been written for him. He no longer has a way out, since he has repeated it so many times to be loyal to his parent!

The repetition of assessments deprives the child of his or her experience, provokes and even aggravates the symptomatology. These assessments must be reduced, and this prerogative must be removed from the psychosocial services in order to avoid perverse effects on the children and the family: certain practices can lead the assessment, however technically efficient it may be, down the path of nonsense. In these situations, the child, his or her voice, his or her suffering and the means to help him or her take second place. Coherence no longer exists.

The role of psychosocial services should focus on the parents and as much as possible, in collaboration with the new expert, not to bring children into this cruel world where adults are deprived of their parenthood.

There should be a supportive role for the estranged parent who is sought after by all because he or she is always the most cooperative and yet never spared. Their suffering is not recognised and yet they must remain on their feet to receive the estranged child if the situation can be resolved.

It seems to me that at this stage it is important to put the prevented parent back at the centre of debates and actions, for several reasons:

He needs to regain an active role in his child's life and this is a first step. He needs to be able to regain a positive image of himself and his parenthood, which have often been very badly affected during the procedure. His suffering has often been denied, he has often been suspected of a serious pathology (you don't lose a child when you are normal) and often has a life of denigration of his ex behind him;

- Of all the people involved, whether judge, prosecutor, expert, therapist, psychologist or psycho-social worker, he is the one who knows the child best;

- Of all the parties involved, whether judge, prosecutor, expert, therapist, psychologist or psycho-social worker, he is the one who knows the other parent best;

- Of all the people involved, whether they are judges, prosecutors, experts, therapists, psychologists or psycho-social workers, they are probably the ones who question themselves the most because they are constantly challenged in their convictions by this child who rejects them so powerfully. The impeded parent consults without being asked, reads, tries to understand and find solutions. He becomes an expert in his case and this expertise should be taken into account for constructive purposes;

-instinctively and through his knowledge of the other parent and the child, he often knows the solutions that fit the personality of his child and his ex and has the power to avoid wasting further time with solutions that are doomed to failure.

This does not mean that they are always right, but allowing them to prioritise and choose the first possible solutions can save valuable time.

At this stage too, when the breakup with the parent is already well established and there is no longer any doubt as to the lack of a real desire on the part of the close parent to do everything possible to rebuild the links between the parent who is prevented from leaving and the child, it is high time to put this parent who is harming his or her children at the centre of the debate.

- It is time to confront him, in simple and meaningful words, with his shameful practices of manipulation, in collaboration with the expert and the judge.

- It is time to tell him clearly that he is wrong and that he must change and that if he does not, there will be consequences.

- It is time to remind him:

- that their spouse has left them and that this is a fundamental right;

- that children do not have to carry him in his pain;

- that his attitude is as unworthy as it is cruel towards his children;

- that one is entitled at this stage to doubt the quality of his parenting if he is unable to see the harm he is doing to his children;

- The judge expects Youth Protection Services to take such and such action within such and such a period of time and th will be the one to ensure the implementation of the measures with direct reporting to the judge and the expert.

The role of the police

In the event that she is called, she must have a protocol for rapid identification of the situation and if there is a breakdown in the relationship, or a failure to present a child, she must have a list of people to contact in the emergency so that the situation can be dealt with by a competent team.


In short, what remains to be done is the most pragmatic, the most administrative, which will avoid the drift of situations that are too 'psychologised' and escape reason: establish action protocols.

In my humble opinion, in addition to the indicators so well described and highlighted by Benoît Vandieren, we should already :

Establish a catalogue of behaviours encountered in risky situations;

Establish a checklist of actions to be implemented;

Establish a rapid response agenda,

Establish a list of professionals who can initiate a quick and efficient process.

In a way, it is necessary to establish a vade mecum for the use of professionals, which would be distributed at the end of informative and formative training courses. That's all it takes!

About parental alienation

Published on 04-



Parental alienation in Antibes, Italy or elsewhere

Published on 17-



I often wonder why competent adults like judges, experts, educated neighbours, social workers... why competent adults such as judges, experts, educated neighbours, social workers, etc., in spite of very obvious signs of parental alienation such as the rupture of the relationship with the other parent, the refusal of therapy or mediation by the parent who separates the child from the other parent, aggressiveness and an attitude without nuance, proven verifiable facts, etc., why, in spite of all these indicators, all these adults find it difficult to recognise the phenomenon, to admit it and above all to really fight against it.

Why do they have so much difficulty even pronouncing the term alienation, why is the alienated parent so often even more "alienated", a bit like a plague victim who can only be guilty, a bit, no doubt, because he or she has not been able to keep his or her child with him or her.

And I have an answer, which is worth another: it is undoubtedly because this alienation is perceived as the emanation of a sincere and strong love of the parent for the child and of the child for the parent, and this in a context of deep crisis.

We have a very romantic view of love of any kind, and there is something fascinating and moving about a child who sacrifices himself and gives everything to his alienating parent.

Unconsciously, stopping alienation, in the emotional imagination of the stakeholders, in their psychosocial archetypes, is a bit like putting an end to that unconditional love that we all expect somewhere.

Aren't we all incredibly fragile when it comes to the love that drives all life?

Seeing, touching in these skin-deep situations brings us back to our primitive desires to be everything for the other, for the other to be everything for us, a perfect fusion, with no possible freedom, a consented prison.

It should not be forgotten that this love is terribly destructive for both of them and will leave indelible traces in each of their stories. Can we still call this love on the part of the alienating parent? Is it not simply the gaping wound of a narcissistic injury taking the form of a heart to better deceive the child, the observer, the expert, the judge?

Will he ever reproduce this wound like a stigma?

Parental alienation or break-down of the parental bond

"Why do some men decide to abandon their children following a separation?"

Published on 19-




An analysis:


The attitude of some fathers is undoubtedly linked to their resentment towards the mother for having initiated the separation.


It is the mother rather than her children that they are trying to reach by abandoning them. Let there be no sense of guilt about wanting to divorce. I don't doubt that there are good reasons to do so; but even when their wives have good reasons to divorce, the husbands get angry.


It is a question of misplaced pride, of reactivating narcissistic wounds, because the best interests of the child should always prevail.


Children are also sometimes perceived as having chosen "their side" if they remain attached to their mother.


Instead of abandoning them, the father should reassure them and continue to take an interest in their daily lives to maintain a bond.


The question remains: "Why mostly men when women in the same situation do not or very rarely abandon their children?"


Because they expect the implicit and explicit support of the mother to re-establish this bond and, in these situations, the relationship between the exes is so altered and often marked by psychological if not physical violence, that even the most open-minded mothers do not find the energy to encourage their children to re-establish contact with the person who mistreated them during the separation.

Daring to go into couple therapy

Women's stress

Published on 03-



Couples in crisis are less and less reluctant to "vent" to a professional. Consulting in order to love each other better is no longer taboo. But does it allow couples to rediscover themselves?

Violaine Gelly


When a couple is in trouble, they sink into a thicket of insoluble contradictions. Each of them, on the lookout for the other's negative behaviour, becomes blind to what remains positive.

The only way to put an end to this situation is to introduce a foreign element into the system," explains couple therapist Guglielmo Gulotta (author of Comedies and Dramas of Marriage, ESF). His role is to destabilise the forces at play, to install a new balance based on new rules. Each spouse then has an interlocutor who is impervious to his or her manoeuvres: the one who locks himself or herself in silence will have to express himself or herself. Another, more aggressive, will be brought back to his anger. This third party to whom couples can turn is the therapist.

Role plays

Confronting resentments, demands... is what therapy allows spouses to do. Facing them, in the position of referee, the therapist. Some professionals start by having each participant write down his or her definition of the couple, what he or she expects from it. The two are confronted. Others use role-playing. When we started our couple therapy, I was afraid to reveal myself to my husband," explains Marie-Catherine, 38. As we were going through a crisis, I was afraid of giving him weapons against me. So we started with role-playing. The shrink suggested that we replay an argument we had had in front of him. Then we would relive the scene, changing places.

As the sessions progressed, Marie-Catherine understood that, having had an authoritarian father, she had loved Eric because he was the exact opposite. "As a result, I had been able to take over all the space in the house, I managed everything, I made the decisions. And this role, which satisfied me, even ended up suffocating me. Eric found himself caught up in my contradictions: I reproached him for being behind, whereas I had loved him precisely because he didn't impose anything on me.

"Generally speaking, says Brigitte Dollé-Monglond (author of Introduction aux thérapies familiales, ESF), psychoanalyst and couple therapist, the choice of a partner is linked to our history. The feeling of love has its origin in the history of the initial lack which, by definition, cannot be filled. As she made her criticisms, Marie-Catherine realised that the crisis in her relationship was part of her past and not her history with Eric.

Re-learning to talk and listen to each other

Couple therapy invites you to look at your partner differently, no matter how many years you have lived together. To hear each other say the words that were difficult to express, to understand intimate expectations, to express buried desires. We learn to talk and listen to each other again. Many therapists, moreover, film the sessions so that the protagonists become aware of the distortion that may have developed between their gestures, their attitudes and their words: it becomes possible to go beyond appearance.

For example, we may confess that if we reproach our partner for going out with his friends, it is because, deep down, we feel that he no longer looks at us. We might also hear him say that if he never talks about his work, it is not out of contempt, but so as not to worry us. It is then up to each of us to correct our habits.

The paradox of successful therapy

While therapy allows a couple to update the contract of life together, it can also seal the end. When my wife and I started couple therapy, we had been living together for twenty-two years," says Pascal, 57. Our children were leaving and I was worried about being alone with her. We decided to go into therapy to see how we could get back together. We realised that we had been going our separate ways, without realising that they were drifting apart. Without the therapy, we would have torn each other apart. Thanks to therapy, we were able to talk and understand that our story was over. We were able to mourn our life together. Eight years later, we are still friends and see each other with our children and grandchildren.

The paradox of couple therapy lies in this: it can be successful and end with a separation. On the other hand, it will certainly fail if one of the two partners refuses to play the game of listening: in spite of himself, when his personal wounds are too painful; because of him, if he does not want to save what can still be saved. Therein lies the main limit of the exercise: to reinvent a way of living as a couple, to breathe new life into a story that is starting to run out of breath, it always takes two people.


Alone or together?

When the couple is unbalanced, individual therapy solves nothing: the spouse who consults is not necessarily the one who suffers the most. It can even be an escape, and the therapist an object of rivalry. It is therefore advisable to consult together. Some therapists start by seeing the couple together, then the spouses separately. But each has its own method. Here are the three main currents of analysis:

  • Theanalytical school brings past suffering to light.
  • Thesystemic school looks at the couple with reference to the family environment in which it emerges and develops.
  • Thebehavioural school focuses on the behaviour of each partner and his or her reactions to the events the couple is going through.

Note: I favour the systemic approach.

The mindful couple

Published on 03-



The couple in mindfulness

Mindfulness in the couple allows us to stop for a moment to become aware of our mental patterns, our psychosocial and psychoaffective archetypes and to recognise them so that we do not respond instinctively. Indeed, most of our reactions in our relationships are influenced by our first relational models, our first emotional relationships, with our parents, our siblings or those who acted as mentors and others.

As a child, if you were pressured by your parents, feeling that you were not living up to their expectations, you will probably tend to reproduce the same pattern as an adult, expecting approval and recognition from your partner. While we all expect recognition for who we are or what we do, some people have higher expectations than others.

And it is in conflict situations that all these expectations come up and short-circuit the relationship through often fruitless arguments. If conflicts are not serious in themselves, they sometimes leave indelible marks through the words spoken, when hurtful. Defusing arguments requires the necessary distance, full awareness. Instead of reacting emotionally, taking the time to listen to the other person leaves space for exchange rather than brutal confrontation or an escalation of the conflict. A real conversation can then take place.
Taking a step back also means not giving up on the slightest difficulties but accepting and sublimating them, taking the time to... meditate, or more simply to reflect on what we are doing. Isn't this really the concept of "turning your tongue seven times in your mouth before speaking"?

Mindfulness leads to a better knowledge of oneself and one's partner, thereby creating complicity and closeness, two pillars of the couple.

Mindfulness means stopping in the face of a conflict, recognising your anger (sadness, frustration, feelings of abandonment, etc.), accepting it mentally and asking yourself what to do with it without letting it express itself without a filter, but instead using it to talk about it calmly. And it's not as difficult as all that.

It requires a little training and the easiest way is to tackle it at moments of little conflict so that we are ready and already in control of the automatic pilot in us that starts at the quarter turn.
How can we do this?
Get into the habit of taking a deep breath, repeated if necessary to avoid impulsive reactions when you feel that tension is rising or is likely to rise, and ask yourself the question: Why am I so affected? Why is he/she so affected? What would I do in his or her place?
Outside of the conflict, taking a few minutes a day to be in tune with who you are at that moment allows you to connect, in your brain, your thoughts to your emotions: close your eyes, breathe deeply, let the thoughts arise without chasing or judging them, and concentrate on your inner (breathing) and outer (smells, noises, lights) feelings. This is the very beginning of full awareness, of acceptance.

The couple deserves to be at their bedside because it should be a place of serenity and security.
And for this to happen, we must be able to develop :
- qualities of benevolence towards one's partner (hello my love, have a good day, I love you, thank you, how good it is to be together, etc.) and to express oneself in this sense, by words, by gestures, by actions, every day;
- empathy: the intensity of the relationship can also be measured by the ability to feel, to identify with, to share the thoughts and desires of one's partner in the couple

Being together in the moment, in everyday life, and enjoying fully (in full awareness) what everyday life brings us makes the relationship rich and special. And it is also this richness and uniqueness that makes for a fulfilling sexual relationship.

Published on 03-



Intimacy in the couple 1

Marital intimacy

Resources - Intimacy in relationships 1 - Marital intimacy

Published on 04-



Marital intimacy, what advice do you have?

Couples experiencing serious difficulties that tend to become entrenched in their married life are good candidates for marital therapy.

Intimacy is not a given and if it is often a source of well-being, of small pleasures, of a feeling of security, it can also be the source of suffering, of questioning, of crisis sometimes.

Unfortunately, it is often at the moment of crisis that one consults a family therapist, a marriage counsellor, if one consults at all.

And yet, even if the marital therapist does not have a magic wand and does not know so much more than the couple themselves, he or she allows us to retrace our steps in the opposite direction, to go through all the milestones of the "lost moments", of the "missed opportunities", of the little traumas that we inflict on each other through our actions or words, these little traumas that will come back in successive waves in the form of reproaches.

And the blame is deleterious to the couple.

The marriage counsellor is there to advise but also to point out these moments and transcend them, to make people aware of their importance by successive accumulations, and above all, to allow them to be replaced by other moments that build and support the couple. Going back over these difficult moments is not ruminating, especially not, but on the contrary replacing them with new moments that allow us to look towards the future and build it; the couple exists and is strengthened by the projects it develops.

But what is intimacy? Proximity? Sexuality? Conjugality?

Intimacy is so many things and I don't know if you can rank its components.

In my experience of working with couples, what brings them together when they have drifted apart, even if the break-up is possible and imminent, is sharing.

And there are so many things to share, from long-term projects to reassuring daily life, from parenthood to mourning, from difficulties to the greatest joys, from sexuality to tenderness. There are so many moments that were shared and that we have forgotten, because we want to forget them to avoid questioning ourselves, or because life has erased them. When life overwhelms us, we no longer live.

Intimacy in the couple

From the Latin "intimus", "the innermost, the deepest", intimacy refers to the opening of our inner world to the other, to our capacity to give them a part of it, to make room for them, to create a unique emotional closeness with the other, a closeness that welds and is a source of emotions that will perhaps turn into affection, love and deep attachment.

This intimacy is not innate and cannot be maintained without the couple choosing to invest in it! (See the following article: How to maintain intimacy in a couple)

Intimacy in the couple 2

Published on 19-



How to maintain intimacy as a couple

Resources - Intimacy in relationships 2 - How to maintain intimacy in relationships

Published on 01-



How to maintain intimacy in the couple?

Above all, don't talk about work, about working on oneself, but rather try to rediscover the initial pleasure of the little child who discovers with emotion the immense happiness of giving.

Maintaining intimacy means maintaining the "saying", not the communication, and choosing to "say" only what is positive: when you come home in the evening exhausted, and find a welcoming home, why not say? "How happy to have you here!"

Why don't we say things anymore?

Time must be invested: The family therapist will recall the first moments of the relationship and the closeness felt in this exclusive time devoted to each other.

When the couple was not yet in the attitude of a small provincial accountant, where one makes internal lists of what one has done for the other and has not found an positive echo.

When we had not yet reached the stage of mental Powerpoint where we added up the bad points at the bottom of the columns.

Couples in crisis often find that they lead an existence where each lives his or her own life, a parallel that suits them for a time in an egocentric world but which very quickly comes up against the frustrations of one another. They come to share only rare moments of relaxation or leisure, an occasional sexuality where the sensual pleasure of the other is somewhat forgotten.

Reinvesting in your relationship means sharing everyday moments again, such as preparing a meal together, going on holiday, playing sports, engaging in cultural activities and awakening a dormant sexuality. Little moments that make you sing at the top of your voice, dance together, look at old photos.

The marriage counsellor will encourage everyone to say things that are no longer said, as if they had been taken for granted: I love you, I miss you, it's good to be together, what beautiful children we have made, how reassuring it is to meet again in the evening...

Providing security on a daily basis, showing understanding and empathy, and responding to the psychological needs of the other person when they arise, reminds us that love is also about taking into account the vulnerability of the other person. This vulnerability of each person is more bearable with two people and can be addressed in the couple and by the couple.

It is necessary to add tons of tenderness and to express it by all possible means: from words to gestures, special attentions, literal and figurative touch. Showing tenderness, love and interest in the other person is to nourish the relationship, make it active and alive. If we gradually forget to greet our partner when she comes home from work, if we avoid hugging our partner, if we no longer say tender words to each other, if we no longer take each other's hands in the street, then our intimacy declines, our sexuality withers. The marriage counsellor, the couple therapist is there to remind us of the essential: love cannot be guessed, it must be expressed.

It is necessary to make a commitment: a love relationship, an intimacy, cannot survive carelessness, casualness, the "for granted". It is time for each of them to take initiatives, to create a common project, to reinvest the couple as a part of themselves that they have forgotten. We stop waiting for "it to pass". It does not pass without taking the problem head on. We talk, we tell each other things. Is our relationship lacking in spice? We discuss it immediately with our partner and take action on the daily routine, on those little pleasures that we let pass without even suspecting their existence. Together we take a different path. We stop suffering and act together. And if one is less dynamic, we don't measure our investment, we commit ourselves to the extent of our means at the time, and the virtuous circle will do the rest.

Proximity in a couple is essential: it is a guarantee of complicity, intimacy and fulfilment and solidifies the foundations of the couple; there is no couple without sharing. Intimacy is much more than sexuality: it is the result of everything else and at the origin of everything else at the same time.

Once established, it is not permanent: questioning is possible, sometimes necessary, and this is what guides the couple towards their own maturity.

Put your heart into it... but not into your work: the couple is not a job but a pleasure that is sometimes forgotten in the midst of everyday worries. Put it back at the "heart" of your preoccupations!


Resources - Sexuality

Published on 07-



Sexuality: how to make it clear (nicely) that it's not okay?

Le Monde.fr |  - Updated on  | By Maïa Mazaurette

When are we more vulnerable than in bed? Never. Sex is dangerous. It makes our adrenaline levels explode . It is often combined with feelings of love - notoriously psychotropic. A misguided Thai wheelbarrow on a too-waxed floor can send a healthy stud to the emergency room. Really? Sex should be classed as an extremesport, likesurfing on a grizzly bear or paragliding - I dare you to differentiate between bondage andmountaineering equipment.

Vulnerable, therefore, to a sexuality that reveals us: all the lights on, even in the middle of the night. The simple fact of landing in a hotel room with an unknown partner (or a long-time lover) gradually strips us of all our artifices: no more entourage to show us off, no more clothes to disguise our complexes, no more language to hide our sensitivity behind our sense of humour or our intelligence.

We are vulnerable, and sometimes we will be criticised. Ouch. Sexual communication is complicated enough when things are going well - desire, pleasure, floating on the edge of the unspeakable. But what about when things aren't going well? Because they exist, those moments when things really get stuck, when things really get itchy, to the point where silence, an erotic coquetry, becomes a burden. We know about sex-core, about pushy relationships: we know about them and we avoid them. What is known as a "drop in libido" and which is often only the consequence of deafening unspoken words. You either have to put up with it or speak out. But how can you say "I don't like it" when you can hardly say "I love it" (let alone "I love you")?

Suggest an alternative option

Firstly, and crucially, timing is critical: just as you shouldn't go shopping on an empty stomach, don't launch into sexual criticism when you're wandering between frustration and irritation. The more urgent it seems to you to talk about it, the more likely you are to choose the wrong wording: if you're itching, make yourself an herbal tea (or a steak tartare with a knife, they say it calms you). Let 24 hours pass. Relax.

This way you can avoid the clichéd question: should I talk before the act, during, just after? If you don't want to seem to appear out of the blue, talk when you have to - hoover in hand, during the evening film which just happens to touch on the subject, or actually during sex, because he/she is three centimetres too far to the left.

It is a corporate communication technique to deliver criticism in sandwiched: between two compliments. Well, that's not good enough. The ruse seems crude and our partners are clever (otherwise, how would they have had the intelligence to choose us). I'll let you imagine the scene: "I love the way you undulate, yet you're totally off your game, oh, how I love the curve of your neck."

In my opinion, it is better to put a little softness in the voice, and suggest an alternative option. Say for example: "Wait, wouldn't you like to try it without your teeth? The person should easily understand the message. You will not have been aggressive, and since we always say that criticism should be constructive: in this situation, you are building.

Agreeing to listen

But if you thought that putting it into words would be the hardest part and then you could rest on your laurels like Julius Caesar on holiday in Guadeloupe, sorry, not so. The sexual development has just begun! For the very essence of communication is that it works both ways (otherwise it's called a decree, and you'd really have to be Julius Caesar).

You have spoken, now you will get a reaction and perhaps, ta-daaam, an answer. It's possible that the person will change the offending technique, but it's also possible that they won't understand (insist), they'll get defensive, or they'll use the opportunity to provide their own criticism. In any case, remember how vulnerable we are in bed. As we play out our most basic identities (gender, sexual orientation, activity/passivity, but also personality type, are you more of a bad woman or a bad boy? Vast questions). When you ask either of them not to "scratch" (you have potery class!), perhaps you are dismantling a pillar of their emotional construct. Maybe for him or her, scratching is based on a thousand year old family tradition, and this tendency to acid pleasure shows a powerful, cool and responsible character.

If you speak, you accept to listen. And because we are fragile, you accept to confront this vulnerability, sometimes to these buried sufferings, sometimes to the bursts of pride. These emotions may be thrown back in your face as a protective mechanism ("YOU are the one who is NEVER available") - you will have to receive these criticisms, in their objectivity and in their possible unfairness.

Accepting to hear

If you listen, you are willing to hear: including things that make you angry. You may hear that love does not guarantee sexual compatibility. You may hear that you are incompetent, that you are being cheated on, that you should have done the dishes, that you are not expressing yourself well.

There is grace in our frailties and our fiascos: it is by lowering our weapons that we can finally welcome the other. It is by accepting to be wounded, and to hurt, that we truly communicate


Therefore, in delivering your criticism, you will remember how to accept criticism. Here, two brief remarks: if you feel you suck, if you don't know how to do it, you have never been taught - you are the result of your sexual past, and if all your previous partners liked two fingers, just two, it is quite natural that you try to reproduce what worked. We can do our best... but that best will always come up against the experience of otherness. Second observation: more often than not, you are not the real target of the criticism. Contextualise. A person who 'attacks' you sexually may be doing so to get your attention, to arouse your desire, to sound the alarm. The field is wide.

When you have spoken, listened and heard, it is time to negotiate. One of the founding ideas of modern communication is that it could solve everything, but this is not true: we don't always get what we want in life. Nobody owes us anything, especially sexually. And negotiating is not necessarily about finding a middle ground (when one dreams of orgies and the other of fidelity, good luck finding it). Negotiating means accepting to lose from time to time - a good exercise in humility.


Watch out! There is a strategy that becomes very common: avoiding critics through search of perfection. Men take Viagra to avoid being caught out (impotence is not a fault), women fake it to appear ultra-orgasmic. We preen ourselves.

Avoidance works. It does not solve anything, but it works. There is still a price to pay, the heavy price of perfection: in trying toprotect yourself and/or the other person,  missing  vulnerability. Missing the weakness. There is grace, however, in our frailties and our fiascos: it is by lowering our weapons that we can finally welcome. It is by accepting to be wounded, and to wound, that we really communicate. An extreme sport: a sport for adults.

More information on http://www.lemonde.fr/m-le-mag/article/2016/02/07/s-exprimer-sans-blesser-donner-et-recevoir-des-critiques-sexuelles_4860886_4500055.html#h0lglHLQwSKheqHI.99


Gay friendly

A facebook group to feed!

Resources - Gay friendly - A facebook group to feed!

Posted on 26-01-2015, 12:55

Gay friendly therapists Alpes Maritimes


Difficulties in a homosexual couple are particular difficulties, just as difficulties in a couple of a blended family, difficulties in a couple for infidelity, difficulties in a couple for substance abuse are particular... And yet gay couples, if they do not consult less, consult later. The situations are therefore more entrenched.
But other situations, upstream of the couple, can lead to consultation. The aim of this group is to find a sympathetic place to listen, anywhere in teh world. Do not hesitate to join and share your experiences, your therapeutic places, your readings!

Domestic violence

When smiling denounces


Published on 01-



Narcissistic perversion

France Inter broadcast on 07/03/2017

Posted on 07-03-2017, 18:11


This general public programme allows people to understand and become familiar with the concept without overusing it.

Violence against women

Resources - Violence against women

Published on 04-



Watch this video, I hope the content will remain...

Domestic violence

An interesting article on violence without blows

Welcoming each other

Resources - Welcoming

I hope the link below will remain active. 

In couple therapy, I often insist on the importance of welcoming each other, every day, and I give the example of the dog that does not spare its expressions of happiness and joy as soon as its master or mistress arrives.

What about us? What do we do?

Very often, we don't even move when we hear the keys in the lock or the car's roar; in the best case, all that remains is a furtive little kiss.

Reconnecting means first of all a warm welcome, remembering at every moment how lucky we are to come home to a house where someone is waiting for us.


And what if dreaming a little about the couple we are waiting for was achieved through poetry and music? Listen to this...



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