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Thanks for visiting the Media Room for It’s Not About Communication! Why Everything You Know About Couples Therapy is Wrong by Dr. Bruce Chalmer.

Check out the introduction to the book here

For the Media Room for Dr. Chalmer’s book Betrayal and Forgiveness: How to Navigate the Turmoil and Learn to Trust Again, click here.

For the Media Room for Dr. Chalmer’s book Reigniting the Spark: Why Stable Relationships Lose Intimacy, and How to Get It Back, click here.

Media Room Outline


Sample Questions

Questions to ask even if you haven't read the book


Praise For The Book

See what people are saying about It's Not About Communication!


Key Topics

The main ideas in the book


About the Author

Learn about Dr. Chalmer


Order the Book

Find out where is the book is available and how to order it today!


Schedule an Interview

Set up a time to meet with Dr. Chalmer

Sample Questions

What to ask even if you haven’t read the book yet:

  1. One of the big ideas of this book is that relationship problems are almost always not about communication. What do you mean by that?
  2.  If the problems couples are having aren’t about how they’re communicating, what are they about?
  3.  You talk in the book about stability and intimacy as two basic needs for relationships. What’s the difference, and why does it matter?
  4. You have two chapters where you talk about ideas versus ideologies. What’s the difference, and what does that have to do with helping couples?
  5.  You have a whole section in the book about faith. But you also distinguish between faith and religion, and especially between faith and ideology. What do you mean by faith, and why is it important in relationships?
  6.  How has your own faith influenced how you work with couples?
  7. You describe couples therapy as akin to improv theater. What do you mean by that?
  8. Spoiler alert: You say in the last chapter that everything you know about couples therapy is wrong too! What do you mean by that?

Book Reviews

Here’s what readers have to say about It’s Not About Communication!

Leanne Abraham
Leanne AbrahamExecutive and Team Coach
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I recently bought your books. I am an executive and team coach in the corporate world and really appreciate your 7 words – I give you full credit (hopefully my corporate folks turn to you for some marriage support) for the seven words and link it to the Issues Clearing model (from Non Violent communication) that I teach in my leadership training and coaching. I often add in Brene Brown’s Braving – another great acronym. I love your writing style – it is very warm and personal. I feel your character coming through in the words.
Dr. Alyson NerenbergAuthor, Psychologist
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Compassionate and informative, along with using a bit of humor, Dr. Chalmer shares his wealth of knowledge that comes from years of treating couples. I recommend this book to both therapists and couples alike who are looking for a roadmap of the couples therapy process.
[Name redacted]
[Name redacted]Former client
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Congrats Dr. Bruce on making the #1 bestseller list. I bought 20 copies of the book and gave it to everyone. [We] worked with you a few years ago. We moved to [redacted] and are loving it. You’ve been such a beautiful part of our journey. You deserve all the goodness and success the world has to offer.
Susan BrattonIntimacy Expert
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If you’re stuck in your relationship this book may be the catalyst you need to have the relationship you want.
Jeremy ShermanAuthor
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Unlike so much of the help on offer these days, Chalmer offers an engagingly and endearingly clear path to this way to feel at home in the universe. A breakthrough book for couples ready at long last to brave reality in all of its paradoxical splendor.
Dr. Paul FoxmanAuthor, Psychologist
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Based on three key ideas and illustrated with case examples from clinical practice, Chalmer highlights the steps to lasting change. A worthy resource for both couples and therapists who want to be effective.
Jane KastPsychologist
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Whether you are a client or a clinician, Dr. Bruce Chalmer’s latest book, It’s Not About Communication! offers spectacular insight into the often bumpy landscape of couples therapy. Dr. Chalmer invites the reader to consider the effects of believing in the wisdom of our clients and how this fosters a sense of hope and collaboration.
Nancy Walker, MFAReviewer
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Dr. Chalmer has a unique and approachable way of getting his message across that I love. He gives a deeper understanding of the concept of communication by providing real-world examples, questions to give the reader a guided way to think about the material, and references for those who want to explore deeper. I love how Dr. Chalmer's humor makes what could be a hard to read topic enjoyable to discover. He parses out the ideas from the ideologies and helps the reader to see through common myths in communication. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading his other works.
[Name redacted]
[Name redacted]Former client
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Things that you said during our sessions still help me today. And I just downloaded the audio version of your book!
Kasia Brown, M.A., LCMHC
Kasia Brown, M.A., LCMHCPsychotherapist
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Congratulations! I am reading it now. I don't provide couples therapy, but I find it so helpful when discussing my clients' relationship challenges.

Key Topics

Your relationship problems are not about communication

  • Unless you’re neurodivergent or have mental health issues, you’re conveying how you’re thinking and feeling effectively. If you’re angry, or afraid, or disrespectful, you’re conveying that. If you’re loving, or compassionate, or curious, you’re conveying that too
  • The problem isn’t how you’re communicating. The problem is what you’re communicating. How follows from what
  • You can find all sorts of rules for communicating effectively. When couples are doing well with each other, they are generally following those rules. But…
  • Following the rules won’t make you do well! 
  • Rafael Nadal grunts when he hits the ball. But grunting when you hit the ball won’t make you play like Rafa
  • Practicing communication techniques won’t make you do better. If that’s what your couples therapy offers, it won’t help

Stability and intimacy: We need them both, even though they conflict

  • The chief skill of stability is to avoid or lower anxiety
  • The chief skill of intimacy isn’t reducing or avoiding anxiety; it’s tolerating anxiety. Intimacy often requires us to risk raising our own and our partner’s anxiety, rather than avoiding it
  • Long-term, stable couples often avoid the anxiety of intimacy because it feels too risky to stability
  • But that can lead to a death-spiral for passion in a relationship
  • Lack of intimacy itself becomes destabilizing. Stability is the roots of a living relationship, but intimacy is the energy for growth. If you pave over a germinated seed, it will try to crack the pavement, or die trying. Deprive a relationship of intimacy, and it will try to “crack the pavement”–maybe with an affair, or arguments about everything and nothing, or sudden departures

Ideas versus ideologies

  • Ideas open you up to new ideas; two people exchanging ideas generate undrstandings neither one would generate on their own
  • Ideologies are when ideas harden into dogma; two people with conflicting ideologies can’t hear each other, and just polarize more
  • Ideology is attractive, because it claims certainty–it feels stable, but stifles intimacy
  • Couples therapists are as prone to ideological thinking as anyone else
  • When couples therapists are in the grip of ideology, the therapy causes harm, not help

What you need from your couples therapist is faith (not necessarily religious)

  • Faith is when you accept that reality is right to be what it is
  • Faith is a mindset, not a particular set of beliefs
  • Faith isn’t what you believe; what you believe, what the facts are, is a matter for science
  • Rather, faith shapes how you believe–it’s about the basic recognition that reality is right to be what it is, even when it’s painful, and even when we realize we aren’t always able to understand it
  • Faith is what allows couples therapy to follow the meaning wherever it goes, rather than insist on ideological certainty
  • “Faith-based” therapy is a label that often means ideological, which is the opposite of faith as we’re describing it
  • You can be religious without manifesting faith (e.g., fundamentalism), and you can manifest faith without being religious

Busting common myths about couples therapy

  • Couples therapy isn’t a treatment for mental illness–the “patient” is the couple, not either individual
  • Couples therapy isn’t mediation–if that’s what you need, find a trained mediator
  • Advice from your couples therapist on how you should live your life is probably worse than useless
  • Success in couples therapy isn’t about whether you stay together or not. Success is more complicated, with multiple factors and multiple people evaluating it, often in opposite directions
  • Couples therapy isn’t about being true to your “authentic self”–the whole idea of an authentic self is not univeral and not simple

Couples therapy under the hood

  • Couples therapy is a lot like improv theater. The actors are given a prompt to start off, and they follow one main rule: whatever any other actor does, their reaction needs to be “Yes, and”–go with whatever the other actor did, and add your own reaction, rather than trying to steer things in a particular direction
  • In couples therapy, the therapist provides the prompts, which can be carefully planned and structured
  • The prompts are structured, but how the couple and the therapist react is unscripted–it’s improv
  • Initially, the “Yes, and” rule is difficult for the couple–the therapist’s job is to be the one who can follow the meaning wherever it goes
  • Following the meaning where is goes is essentially what we mean by faith

Finding couples therapy that helps

  • It’s not just you–everything I know about couples therapy is wrong too! The problem isn’t that we all offer different ideas. The problem is when when we think we “know” rather than being open to new understandings
  • What you need from your couples therapist is faith, not ideological certainty
  • Deciding on an ongoing basis if the therapy is helping isn’t simple, but it’s crucial, for both the couple and the therapist
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About The Author

Dr. Bruce Chalmer has been a psychologist working with couples for over thirty years. Through his teaching, consulting, and videos about relationships, his ideas have helped thousands of couples and their therapists.

He has held leadership positions in some of Vermont’s Jewish communities, and is also a musician and composer. He lives in South Burlington, Vermont with his wife, Judy Alexander. They are the hosts of the podcast “Couples Therapy in Seven Words.”

Visit Dr. Chalmer’s practice website and blog.

Order The Book


It’s Not About Communication! is available through your favorite bookstore, as well as online. It’s available in paperback, as an ebook for all devices, and as an audiobook narrated by the author.

Publisher: Bookbaby

ISBN: 978-1-66787-1-936
ISBN eBook: 978-1-66787-1-943

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.

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