What Kinds of Issues Are Addressed?

Intensive Therapy Addresses Critical Issues

Our Intensive Therapy Program covers a wide range of issues because Crucible® Therapy is a “womb-to-tomb” approach. Although we built our reputation as experts on intimacy and sexuality, Crucible Therapy operates at fundamental levels with universal principles that apply throughout the lifespan.

Our approach is not just for couples. We work with families and individuals too. This kind of broad-band applicability allows Crucible Therapy to address the full range of couples’ problems.

The Crucible® Intensive Therapy Program helps couples resolve problems like:

Nagging undercurrents
Emotional gridlock
Emotional volatility
Lack of intimacy
Parenting disputes
Boring routine sex
Constant bitter arguments
Power and control struggles
Pervasive relationship problems
Sexual dysfunctions and lack of desire
Extramarital affairs
Separation or imminent divorce
  • We love working with couples with good relationships, who want to make them even better. Enhancing sex and intimacy, and helping people reach their sexual potential, has always been one of our greatest strengths.
  • However, many couples we see are emotionally alienated and on the verge of separating or filing for divorce.

People come to us because of our expertise in many different areas. This allows couples with multiple problems a better chance to make progress.

Holding On To Yourself (Differentiation)

We developed the first integrated approach to sex, intimacy and relationships based on differentiation. Our approach is widely recognized by mental health professionals for this very reason. We literally wrote the book on differentiation-based therapy (Constructing the Sexual Crucible).

We started the trend of referring to differentiation as “holding on to yourself.” This describes what differentiation looks like in action, and lets you know what you need to do to. Holding on to yourself means developing:

  • A solid sense of identity, self-worth, and core values
  • Keeping your anxiety under control and soothing your own heart
  • Modulated responses to others, rather than over-reacting
  • Being willing and able to tolerate tough times to accomplish cherished goals.


One of our specialties is dealing with conflict. Not just containing conflict or resolving it, but helping people use conflict to grow. We understand conflict in love relationships isn’t necessarily a sign of something going “wrong.” It’s a primary way we mature into adults. Normal healthy couples have conflicts—it’s built into the very fiber of marriage. The real issue is how you handle it. Our ground-breaking understanding of healthy-but-difficult processes that permeate love relationships led us to coin the phrase, “Marriage is a people-growing machine.”

We also coined the term “Normal Marital Sadism,” so our optimism isn’t an idealistic fantasy. We help partners deal with what’s really going on, including when what’s going on is pretty dark. Our optimism is rooted in twenty years of watching people respond to our strategy of talking to the best in people. A Crucible® Therapy core principle is, “Only the best in us acknowledges the worst in us, because the worst in us lies about its own existence.”


Our innovative work with intimacy is recognized by therapists’ world-world. In 1991, we made the landmark distinction between other-validated intimacy and self-validated intimacy, and explained how the interplay of these two forms of intimacy creates emotional gridlock. These three terms, and the process they describe, provide couples, singles, and therapists with a whole new map of how intimacy really works in love relationships.

Intimacy is one of the cogwheels in the people-growing machinery of marriage. It doesn’t look, feel, or operate like popular culture says it does. Crucible® Therapy helps couples with intimacy problems enhance their ability to hold onto themselves (become more differentiated)—which allows them to achieve deeper and richer intimacy.


Constructing the Sexual Crucible is studied by sex therapists around the world, and remains required reading in many training programs. Dr. David received the first Professional Standard of Excellence Award given by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Ruth and David are both AASECT-certified sex therapists with diplomat status.

Until David published his work in 1991, “differentiation” did not exist in the world of sexology. Crucible® Therapy is the first differentiation-based approach to sex and intimacy, and the first core integration of sex therapy, marital therapy, individual therapy, and spirituality. We promulgated the shift in the field of sex therapy from focusing on pathology (“what’s wrong”) to sexual health, and helping people reach their sexual potential. It’s even in our name: Marriage & Family HEALTH Center.