In this episode, Emotionally Focused Therapist, Figs O’Sullivan, conceptualizes a case from the standpoint of working from the EFT perspective. Relational Life Therapist, Shane Birkel, talks about how an RLT therapist would work with the same couple. Figs and Shane talk through some of the similarities and differences in the two approaches and how they view couples cases that come in for therapy.
We flee or fight to avoid pain. In psychodrama we call those ways of being the coping roles. The path to the progressive, being fully alive, is to be with the vulnerability of the pain and attend to it. This can’t really be done alone, yet no-one can do it for you.
This is a universal idea and present in many modalities.
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.”
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.
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.