Daniel B. Wile (8/3/39 – 3/18/20), nationally and internationally known founder and developer of Collaborative Couple Therapy, died in his Oakland California home on Wednesday, March 18, after a long struggle with heart failure. With a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966, Dan went on to a distinguished career as a teacher, author, and therapist.
As an Assistant Clinical Professor in the UC Berkeley Clinical Science Program from 2003-2019, Dan co-taught the primary Couples Therapy graduate course for three years, and participated yearly in the supervision of graduate students in the Clinical Science Program as they learned to do couples therapy.
Dan Wile’s impact on the field of couples therapy in America stems in large part from three books: Couples therapy: A nontraditional approach (1981); After the fight: using your disagreements to build a stronger relationship (1993); and After the honeymoon: how conflict can improve your relationship (revised 2008). At the time of his death, he had completed an advanced draft of what he saw as his most significant written legacy, “Solving the moment: a collaborative couple therapy manual.” The manual evolved out of his forty years of seeing, thinking about, and writing about couples. In accordance with his wishes, Dorothy Kaufmann, his wife and colleague, will be preparing a final version in the coming months.
Dan also described his approach in chapters published in the Clinical handbook of couple therapy (3rd edition 2002), in numerous articles, and in a blog he maintained for couples therapists over the last few years. He rarely missed a morning’s writing session, revising each paragraph until it shone with clear and vivid prose.
Dan developed a signature method he called doubling, talking for each partner in the couple as if he were that person, reframing their attack or withdrawal in words that would foster a more intimate conversation between them, the primary goal of Collaborative Couple Therapy. His theory and practice empowered clients to have their say about every aspect of their therapy, giving the therapist the benefit of each partner’s input. In creating a more equal, less hierarchical relationship between the therapist and the partners, he modeled a relationship of equality within the couple. He gave training workshops in the U.S. and internationally over several decades, a seminal influence on many generations of clinicians. With his wife Dorothy Kaufmann, he also gave workshops for couples all over the country.
Dan was a mensch, radiating a quality of goodness that could be felt by everyone in his presence. He wore his kindness and calm temperament lightly, with wry humor.
Dan Wile is survived by his wife Dorothy Kaufmann, whom he met in 2007, her son Steven McCall, Dan’s sister and brother-in-law, Eleanor and Stephen Bulova, their children, Peter Bulova and Susan O’Donnell, and his former wife, Joanne Wile. A memorial service celebrating Dan Wile’s life will be held in late fall of 2020 or early spring of 2021, when it is safe to gather together.