My Practice

Bruce Derman Ph.D.

Choosing a Therapist

Not all therapists are alike, nor are all therapists suited for all clients. So the task of choosing a therapist is a very important decision but many times the reasons for one’s choice is based on superficial thinking, such as age, location, and even religion. I would suggest that the best guidelines for choosing a therapist is their capacity to form an alliance with you and their ability to model the quality that is missing in your life.


Indicators of a Healthy Therapist-Client Relationship

Research has been shown that being able to form an open and interactive relationship, in which there is continual feedback between therapist and client is the best indicator of therapeutic success, In addition, unless the therapist is able to show the client through the therapeutic process what their gaps are and be able to support them in learning to develop these aspects of themselves, there is no therapy dynamic and therapist and client are just hanging out in the same room exchanging a lot of chatter.

My approach is to offer my clients a relationship that speaks to what their life situation demands ranging from acceptance without judgment, expressions from anger to sadness to fear, an appreciation of two vital human characteristics in disappointment and powerlessness, and the difference between being afraid of being afraid to a willingness to be afraid.

I am a direct, engaging, highly relational therapist, who is very self disclosing when necessary. In addition, I possess great flexibility and creativity in my approach and in my ability to form the therapeutic relationship that each person or couple needs. I work best with clients who come with the intention to make real changes in their life.

Divorce Mediation and Divorce Coaching

“Divorce with Dignity” is the credo of Bruce Derman, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who is committed to assisting couples move through the divorce process. By applying divorce models uniquely designed for the moderate to high conflict couple, he is able to minimize the negative impact to the entire family.

He is trained and experienced in divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, child custody, and divorce coaching and has helped many divorcing couples unhook themselves from the emotional turmoil of the adversarial divorce game so that they can end their marriages and “divorce with dignity”.

He works in conjunction with female coaches which allows both voices of the couple to be fully represented, who can serve as buffers for the intensity and hostility that is common in divorce. Using a gender balanced team helps to create bridges to help move past the impasses and emotional agendas. Mary Stoddard, Ph.D. is the coach he works with. She may be reached at

In addition, two of the attorneys he collaborates with are Ron Supancic, certified family law attorney at The Law Collaborative and Jordan Metz at 

Child Custody Mediation

Many couples find going through a child custody evaluation to be an anxiety provoking, biased, and depowering process, but feel that they have no other choice. Working with a male-female professional mediation team offers an alternative where the parents retain their individual voices and power in a much more unbiased custody process.

Our goal is to reduce the chaos within divorcing families in this area by creating an intelligent workable agreement that is in the best interests of the children and being an effective parent. The team will also address any power imbalances and negative patterns, so that the custody agreement will hold up over time. The team will mediate until a custody agreement is worked out that satisfies both parties. In this way parents can avoid a long drawn out costly court process where decisions will be arbitrarily imposed.

The collaborative mediation process will ask for more trust, respect, and dialogue from the divorcing parents than is involved in litigation procedures.

Bruce Derman, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist Specialist in divorce issues
Extensive experience as a divorce coach and mediator. Certified in child custody work.

Mutual Therapy

By Bruce Derman, Ph.D.

When you are in an intimate relationship, you are exposed to a continuous bombardment of differences which often become overwhelming. Your partner likes cold, you like hot. Your partner likes sharing, you don’t. Your partner likes being orderly, you prefer clutter and chaos. This preoccupation with differences then frequently escalates into battles over a never-ending list involving who is right, open, sensitive, smart, important, and the most powerful. In the end, half of the relationships use these differences to head down the divorce trail when they are convinced they have achieved the title of my book We’d Have A Great Relationship If It Weren’t For You.

Since this perception of differences is so much a part of our culture, it is necessary to learn a whole new attitude and perspective in order to counter this trend and be able to sustain a truly intimate relationship. What makes this especially vital is that the old perspective of seeing and using differences creates an inequality among partners with one being better or worse than the other. There is a failure in realizing that only equals can be intimate, since only from that place can you truly expose yourself to the other. Looking down on or up at your partner doesn’t allow that kind of exposure. To be truly intimate requires viewing you and your partner as basically equal in your emotional and mental development. Thus, while you may differ in certain skills, your capacity to be open to fear, commitment, and love will be equal.

In learning the mutual approach and perspective you will increasingly find yourself asking the question “How are we the same?” instead of “How are we different?” Rather than fighting with your partner over who loves who more, you will see that each of you are controlling, manipulative, insensitive, sad, and scared. All of the so-called differences you have been pontificating will be seen as merely smoke screens being used to cover up this truth.

Mutuality is definitely not an easy diet to integrate, and it demands an extensive commitment from you and your partner. However, when you can develop the ability to see this sameness beneath all the differences, you will experience a sense of joining and connecting that was previously unknown to both of you. In addition, from the mutual perspective of knowing the true sameness in your relationship, there would be little need to prove that you are different or better than your partner. As a result you will find fighting with your mate very difficult, because it would be like fighting with your self.

The ultimate goal of mutuality is not to find a connection that you lost. It is to recognize a connection you’ve always had. When you see yourself and your partner through the eyes of real equality, there will be nothing to fear, nothing to prove, and nothing more that you must be. 

Parent Divorce Coordinator

Parents who are going through a high conflict divorce typically experience enormous difficulty in trying to deal with the many decisions involved in custody arrangements and agreements. This often leads to resentment, arguments, polarizations, and impasses in which the children become the main victims. As a result, the children go through enormous pain, alienation, and insecurity. These high conflict situations require a professional who can serve as a neutral bridge between the parties and who is not only skilled in parenting issues but also very familiar with the dynamics of the high conflict divorce process.

I am a licensed clinical psychologist of over forty years and specialize in dealing with divorcing couples. For the last 15 years my focus has been as a mediator, divorce coach, child custody mediator, expert witness, divorce therapist, while working with other professionals using the collaborative divorce model. I specialize in high conflict divorces and have written articles on my high conflict divorce model. My training includes extensive instruction in mediation and collaborative divorce, child custody evaluation, and parenting coordinator workshops. Within my divorce coaching model, I guide partners in learning to be aikido divorce warriors so they don’t hook into the chaos that is prevalent in these intense divorce situations. In addition, I have written many articles on divorce which includes The eight ways to know if you are ready to divorce, as well as the book, We’d Have a Great Relationship, If It Weren’t for You.

All of these skills along with my strong, direct personality provide me with the resources to address the numerous challenges of helping divorcing couples to deal with parenting issues during this difficult time. This much less destructive approach halts any further damage to the children involved. Children of parents who cannot relate to each other in a respectful, non-defensive way are affected most adversely.

The assignment of Parenting Coordinator in a divorce case is a quasi judicial position that requires a stipulation with the court which certainly adds a significant leverage to the role. It is especially recommended for divorcing couples who are unable to co parent or do parallel parenting on their own without extensive conflict in the family.

If you are working with couples in a legal or therapeutic capacity and would like a parenting coordinator to assist in the work, I would be glad to discuss my services with you.