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Friday Continuing Education Series: A Twin’s Dilemma: Being Noticed or Being Known, Joan A Friedman, PhD

  • Fri, April 12, 2019
  • 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
  • Corte Madera Town Center, 770 Tamalpais Drive, #201, Corte Madera, CA 94925


Friday, April 12, 2019, A Twin’s Dilemma: Being Noticed or Being KnownJoan A. Friedman, PhD 

A twinship is a marriage that one does not choose.   Biological destiny determines the twin coupledom.   For many twin pairs, the course of their emotional lives is dictated by this singular event.  While all of us enter relationships with our particular history and “baggage”, twins have specific developmental experiences which require mindful recognition.

  • Living their formative years in a “twin bubble”, they have had very few opportunities to recognize or develop a sense of their individuality.
  • Having been treated as a dyad and unit for most of their young lives, they do not recognize a singularity.  Rather, being compared and competitive have been the primary variables that have shaped their identities.
  • Healthy intimacy is stifled since most efforts are directed at getting along via compromise and tacit agreements in hopes of minimizing conflict, aggression, and betrayal. 
  • Without a healthy separate self, twins have a tendency to bring higher emotional stakes into a relationship.  Outside of their awareness, they demand excessive loyalty, unbridled attention, and unwavering possessiveness.


  • Describe three characteristics unique to twin relationships
  • Identify distinct childhood developmental differences that impact twin maturity
  • Define three goals for the patient to help manage the twin connection
  • Assess treatment strategies and interventions that resonate with twin patients


  • Introduction to my research and program agenda
  • Overview of challenging parenting dilemmas and how they contribute to emotional difficulties as twins reach adulthood
  • Discussion about caretaker/cared for roles in twin psychology
  • Recognition of particular ways in which treating a twin in therapy differs from treating a singleton


Unfortunately, most twins do not feel they have permission to express what they authentically feel about being and having a twin.  Many fear that to do so would mean jeopardizing a relationship that is often valued even more highly than a marriage. Every close relationship involves ambivalence, and this is especially true of twins.


Twins who have not had ample opportunities to develop a singular sense of self will be delayed in terms of feeling as if they can manage adult life challenges such as going to college alone or living apart from one’s twin.  Moreover, the triadic system of mother/baby/baby organically engenders competition and comparison.  Each child competes for parental love and attention while also being labeled and compared to his same age sibling.


Many twin pairs have difficulty developing healthy intimacy because many of their emotional issues are directly related to getting along in hopes of minimizing conflict, aggression, and betrayal. If they haven’t developed healthy, separate selves, twins have a tendency to bring higher emotional stakes into a relationship. They unconsciously demand excessive loyalty, unwavering attention, and unbridled possessiveness from each other. Since many twin pairs feel that they have made tremendous sacrifices and compromises for the well-being of their twin connection, they feel entitled to exact tremendous demands in return.


Children cannot be parented by a same-age sibling; nevertheless, some twin pairs are raised this way because parents often find caring for and managing twins so understandably taxing. Unfortunately, some parents feel that the twin connection is more important than the parent-child connection and thus abdicate their parental role to the twinship. This usually results in the twins growing up excessively dependent upon and possessive of one another.


Psychotherapists are trained well in understanding and managing patients who make an immediate and intense connection in the therapeutic milieu.  Yet, in the case of twins, the mental health professional needs to be aware that a quixotic positive transference is an expectable consequence of having grown up with a same age significant other.  Instead of recognizing pathological implications in such a situation, clinicians need to expect that this intense connection will emerge.  They must be prepared to manage it rather than label it as aberrant. When treating a twin who has grown up feeling like half of a whole, the psychotherapist needs to approach the issue of separation and individuation patiently and delicately. As much as the twin desires to be his own person, his dyadic upbringing has robbed him of the opportunity to develop as an individual. Tremendous feelings of fear, conflict, and guilt accompany the longing to be separate.

Joan A. Friedman, PhD is a prominent and well-respected twin expert who shares her passionate views and insights about twins and their emotional needs with twins and their families throughout the world.

The fact that she is an identical twin and the mother of five, including fraternal twin sons, makes her ideally suited to this task. Her commitment to twin research and her treatment of twins of all ages demonstrate the breadth and depth of her skills and experience.

She conducts groups for parents of twins and provides consultation about twin-related matters such as school placements, developmental discrepancies, behavioral issues, and individuation struggles.

Her first book, Emotionally Healthy Twins, has received critical acclaim as a unique resource for understanding how twins develop and what parents can do to manage and understand twin-specific challenges as twins mature.

Dr. Friedman recently finished her new and exciting book about the relationship intricacies of adult twins, titled The Same but Different: How Twins Can Live, Love and Learn to be Individuals, which was released in February 2014.

She has earned doctorates from two prestigious psychoanalytic training programs in southern California. Her social work experience in community mental health facilities and hospitals has contributed to her unique perspectives about child development and parenting.

  • Time: Networking is from 11:30 to 12:00 p.m. Presentation begins at 12:00 pm & ends at 2:00 p.m.
  • Cost: Free for Marin CAMFT members, $10 for non-members.
  • Location: Corte Madera Town Center, Room 201 - 770 Tamalpais Drive, Corte Madera, CA 94925 (map)
  • Information: For more information about the Friday Continuing Education Series and about joining the Committee, please contact CE Director, Laurie Buntain.
  • Continuing Education Goal: Marin CAMFT is committed to offering continuing education courses to train LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs to treat any client in an ethically and clinically sound manner based upon current accepted standards of practice. Course completion certificates will be awarded at the conclusion of the training and upon participant’s submission of his or her completed evaluation. 
  • Refund Policy: Requests for refunds must be in writing and received by the CE Director on no later than ten days before the program. There will be a $25.00 administrative fee to cancel registration for any program. The refund will be sent within ten days of the request
  • Accommodation for Special Needs: The special needs of persons with disabilities will be accommodated. The Program Committee will endeavor to assure that continuing education program materials, content and venue selections will meet the special needs of the disabled and that reasonable accommodation will be made. A request for accommodation can be made to the CE Director, who will work with the Committee and event venue to meet the need.All instructors will read and adhere to Marin CAMFT’s stated policies.
  • Marin CAMFT encourages those who attend its events to respect the fact that some individuals may have allergies to fragrances and pet dander. We ask that you refrain from introducing these elements into our meeting room. Registered service animals are welcome, of course. 
  • Grievance Procedure: Marin CAMFT will respond to complaints in a reasonable, ethical and timely manner, when submitted by program attendees in writing to the CE Director.
  • Anti-Discrimination Policy: Marin CAMFT shall not discriminate against any individual or group with respect to any service, program or activity based on gender, race, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age or other prohibited basis. Marin CAMFT does not require attendees to adhere to any particular religion or creed in order to participate in training. Marin CAMFT will not promote or advocate for a single modality of treatment that is discriminatory or likely to harm clients based on current accepted standards or practice.CE: This workshop meets the qualifications for two hours of continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LEPs and LPCCs. These will be provided by Marin CAMFT (CEP # 56895), which is approved by CAMFT to sponsor CE for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs. Marin CAMFT maintains responsibility for this program and its contents contact Laurie Buntain, Continuing Education Director for more information.

Marin County Chapter of CAMFT                  

PO Box 9065 San Rafael, CA 94912-9065     

(415) 459 3484

Marin CAMFT is approved by  the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT Provider #56895) to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs

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