The Survival Dance that gets in the way of the Encounter

The title of this post comes from Hedy Schleifer’s ECcT – Encounter Centred Couple Therapy. On her website she says:

“I want them to leave knowing that the “survival dance” that they have been dancing for such a long time is “not” who they are in their essence.”

She also calls it “from coping to living”

EFT – Emotionally Focussed Couple Therapy – has a similar concept – http://www.drsilvinairwin.com/what-is-eft/
:

“EFT sees distress in relationships as centered in the loss of secure emotional connection, and that a negative cycle or “dance” is established when that loss of connection is experienced. These cycles are often characterized by anger, criticism, leaving, or appearing indifferent, to name a few. Once established, these cycles can crop up over the slightest issue, and over time be corrosive to the bonds of trust and security in the relationship. EFT aims to help couples stop these negative cycles by first identifying and mapping out this cycle, then helping couples identify and articulate their needs and clarify their emotional signals in a way that helps their partner to have greater understanding, compassion and responsiveness.”

Imago Relationship Therapy has the same philosophy. It comes to it this way:

“Our essential state is that of relaxed joyfulness and empathic connection.

… we protect ourselves with maximizing and/or minimizing defenses and also block the expression of our basic functioning (thinking, feeling, sensing, and acting). These defenses disrupt the flow of our pulsating energy and disrupt our essential state of relaxation, joy, full aliveness, and connectedness.”

Karen Horney in Our Inner Conflicts – A CONSTRUCTIVE THEORY OF NEUROSIS – W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York 1945

“Compulsive drives are specifically neurotic; they are born of feelings of isolation, helplessness, fear and hostility, and represent ways of coping with the world despite these feelings; they aim primarily not at satisfaction but at safety; their compulsive character is due to the anxiety lurking behind them. Two of these drives—neurotic cravings for affection and for power—stood out at first in clear relief and were presented in detail in The Neurotic Personality.”

Gottman. https://cdn.gottman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/The-Four-Horsemen.pdf

The four horseman of the apocalypse – same idea, there are coping strategies that lead to disaster:

“Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling.”

In Psychodrama role theory covers all of the above – we identify the coping getalt of roles. Roles are a full description of functioning in the moment and incorporates thought feeling and action.

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I’m reflection on “essence”. If we get the coping out of the way will “who they are in essence” just come to the fore. Or does spontaneity require learning, just as coping does?

Is encounter and spontaneity something that requires training?

EFT – three steps

 
  • Stabilisation
  • Restructuring
  • Integration
 

Stages and Steps in the EFT process

1. Stabilization (Assessment and De-escalation Phase) Step 1: Assessment Step 2: Identify negative cycle and attachment issues Step 3: Access underlying attachment emotions Step 4: Reframe the problem into cycle, attachment need and fears — Partners are no longer victims of the cycle, they are now allies against it.

  • During this stage the therapist creates a comfortable and stable environment for the couple to have an open discussion about any hesitations the couples may have about the therapy, including the trustworthiness of the therapist. The therapist also gets a sense of the couples positive and negative interactions from past and present and is able to summarize and present the negative patterns for them.

2. Restructuring the bond (the change phase) Step 5: Access implicit needs, fears, models of self Step 6: Promote acceptance by other-expand the dance Step 7: Structure emotional engagement-express attachment needs and wants

  • This stage involves restructuring and widening the emotional experiences of the couple. This is done through couples recognizing their attachment needs, and then changing their interactions based on those needs. At first their new way of interacting may be strange and hard to accept, but as they become more aware and in control of their interactions they are able to stop old patterns of behavior from reemerging.

3. Integration/Consolidation Step 8: New positions in the cycle/enact new stories Step 9: New solutions to pragmatic issues

  • Focuses on reflection of new emotional experiences and self-concepts. It integrates the couple’s new ways of dealing with problems within themselves and in the relationship. It is the attachment bond that is formed through EFT therapy, which is the newfound strength of the couple[8].[9]

Seven Transforming Conversations – 7 Conversations

 
More from Susan Johnson
 
 

Seven Transforming Conversations:

Recognizing Demon Dialogues—In this first conversation, couples identify negative and destructive remarks in order to get to the root of the problem and figure out what each other is really trying to say.

Finding the Raw Spots—Here, each partner learns to look beyond immediate, impulsive reactions to figure out what raw spots are being hit.

Revisiting a Rocky Moment—This conversation provides a platform for de-escalating conflict and repairing rifts in a relationship and building emotional safety.

Hold Me Tight—The heart of the program: this conversation moves partners into being more accessible, emotionally responsive, and deeply engaged with each other.

Forgiving Injuries—Injuries may be forgiven but they never disappear. Instead, they need to become integrated into couples’ conversations as demonstrations of renewal and connection. Knowing how to find and offer forgiveness empowers couples to strengthen their bond.

Bonding Through Sex and Touch—Here, couples find how emotional connection creates great sex, and good sex creates deeper emotional connection.

Keeping Your Love Alive—This last conversation is built on the understanding that love is a continual process of losing and finding emotional connection; it asks couples to be deliberate and mindful about maintaining connection.