Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholic Professionals Host Training On Marital Therapy

Published July 17, 2008

Begun over 10 years ago as an informal gathering for study, discussion and prayer, Our Mother of Good Counsel has grown in both size and scope. Some of its members are now actively working to form a similar group on a national scale, the Catholic Psychotherapists Association.

Locally, though, the time seemed right to serve the larger mental health community by offering a three-day workshop with William Nordling, Ph.D., presenting “The Relationship Enhancement Therapy Model: A Catholic Friendly Model of Marital Therapy” on August 14, 15 and 16 at St. Andrew Church in Roswell. It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the church at 675 Riverside Road.

The workshop will serve as both a comprehensive introduction to the Relationship Enhancement (RE) model of therapy and as an illustration of what it means to take a Catholic approach to psychotherapy.

Nordling will provide a comprehensive introduction to the RE model of marital therapy. It is an empirically supported model for treating couples and families that adopts a virtue/skills training approach that creates a deepening dialogue between spouses to promote unity, understanding, healing and forgiveness.

The workshop combines lecture, demonstration, observation of clinical sessions, and supervised skills practice. Participants will learn the 10 skill sets that comprise the approach, specific therapy skills that are needed, and how to implement this approach in standard, brief and crisis intervention formats. Twenty CEUs have been applied for for psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers and professional counselors.

The workshop will be targeted to the mental health professional but is also open to clergy and others who are interested in exploring the concepts presented and in networking.

Nordling is a co-founder and the chairman of the department of psychology at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a free-standing graduate school of professional psychology in Washington, D.C., which trains its students in an integrated Catholic approach to mental health practice. He has served the Archdiocese of Washington on its Family Life advisory board and Marriage Preparation committee.

Prior to his work at IPS, Dr. Nordling was clinical director and director of training/certification at the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement. He is currently on the board and was first president of the Association of Filial and Relationship Enhancement methods. He is co-author of the Relationship Enhancement Program and has given numerous presentations, nationally and internationally, on the RE model.

This continuing education event will be followed by three more in the coming year sponsored by Our Mother of Good Counsel. They will be half-day events but will provide CEUs.

Those who have been active in the group have found it to be very beneficial both personally and professionally.

Tom Spudic, Ph.D., said the group was formed “to help Catholics better link their spiritual and professional lives.”

“Being strengthened and receiving insight from faith, should not be confused with replacing skill as a therapist with religious faith,” he said. “Mostly we need to develop good mental health practitioners, who are also informed by and strengthened by their Catholic faith. Still, that being said, the greatest source of personal growth for me has been the chance to pray together and grow in faith with fellow Catholics. Unfortunately, I’ve sometimes looked at prayer as an ‘add on’ to what we do within the group. Really, though, it’s the foundation.”

“When I began my journey towards becoming a psychotherapist, I was struck by the lack of religious principles I found in graduate school, professional journals and even in many peers,” said Mary Cheryl Henderson, a licensed professional counselor. “Finding Our Mother of Good Counsel has given me a place to flourish and grow in my beliefs and practice of psychotherapy as well as encouraging and invigorating me to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help each client develop a fuller, richer life.”

For more information and registration for the August workshop, contact Mary Cheryl Henderson at (404) 936-1144 or e-mail The cost is $249 before Aug. 1 and $299 afterward. Students and interns may attend for $149. Clergy may attend for free.