You are fed up. This is been on your mind for a while. You need to tell the other person. Its not fair. They are a problem. You’ve been meaning to do this but they’d never listen…
Those thoughts and feelings are your warm up. A warm up like that needs some attention. The other party is not likely to listen. When the time comes to talk you need better warm up. The six steps will create a good warm up for a productive conversation. “It is all in the warm up.”
Create a Topic
What is the title of this conversation? One that is of interest to both parties. Create a topic that is constructive. Do this well before you approach the other person. This will determine everything from here on.
Begin with the impulse for the talk, e.g. “Your careless behaviour over the years has made me resentful and bitter and it is time you changed.”
Remove blame: “I think you are careless and I resent that and I’d like you to change.” Notice the subtle difference with the words: “I think…”
Remove resentment: Resentment is something you have allowed to build up, own it. “I think you are careless and I have found this difficult to raise with you, and I’d like you to change.”
Convert judgmental words, and be specific about outcomes: “I think the jobs can be done more efficiently.”
Make it collaborative: “I think we can do this more efficiently.”
Topic: “How we can do some things more efficiently”
Make a Request
How you do that also creates a warm up. More on that soon.
I will read the book. But as I listened I was burning to join in on the discussion. I have since my days studying under Prof. Robert Bigelow in the late 60s at Canterbury had an understanding of “gene pools”. The concept makes sense of how some things might benefit the survival of a species even when individuals do not have more babies.
Brian Boyd touched on this lightly in the interview, I’ll be interested to see if he does this more fully in the book.
The point is this: if lyrical poetry (or anything else) is useful to the group then only a few need to have a gene for it, and even if they individually don’t have more babies, the group as a whole might survive and a neighbouring group who does not have that gene in their pool might not.
I’ve been thinking about this in relationship to the purpose of monogamy. It seems that it has a special place in healing wounds from childhood. But this typically does not happen till after the crucial childbearing years, in the second reflective half of life. I think of the powerful impact even one or two healing couples can have in a group. They can foster relationship education as well. They might influence psychological health, and more robust grandchildren.
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.
William Doherty brings a wonderful insight into Couple Therapy. The video shows the nature of the problem he addresses. The article in the Psychotherapy Networker brings forward his way of attending to that problem.
With the thorough and useful Imago dialogue approach there are a few things I find myself bringing from other modalities to the work. Warm up – from psychodrama is one. I work for a while with the couple in the warm up phase so that the dialogue topic is related to what the couple together agree is of value to work on in the relationship. This is a bit different from what can happen where the topic is the frustration one partner has with the other – dialogues about that may get there the long way around, a good warm up, which may include some psych ed, from me can be circumvent the potentially derailing process.
But that is not the main idea of this post.
William Doherty’s idea of the Discernment Phase of therapy creates a much larger space for a warm up with clients who may not be in agreement on what is needed. He gives me as the therapist permission – in a relational way – to see each party on their own if that is needed in a phase that is not yet couple therapy. I love the word discernment here. It is so much more engaging of the client therapist relationship than assessment.
This paragraph sums up the essence.
A central strategy of this work is that although the couple comes in together each time, most of the work goes on in separate conversations with each spouse. In the first 40 minutes of the initial session, I see them together and get both their stories and perspectives on the marriage. After asking what they hope to get from seeing me, I inquire about their divorce narratives (how they got to this point), their repair narratives (how they tried to solve their problems and what outside help they sought), and a question about the best of times in their relationship history. I then spend more than an hour seeing each of them separately. During that time, I focus on each one’s agenda (leaving or saving the marriage, along with other agendas) and try to open up a deeper understanding of each one’s contributions to the marital dynamics and areas of potential change. At the end of each individual conversation, I help the partner prepare a summary to be shared with the other partner at the end of the session.
Here is a pdf of the Psychotherapy Networker article.
Here is a fuller quote of a section quoted earlier.
Marriage and family therapy for instance, has to be so conducted that the “interpsyche” of the entire group is re-enacted so that all their tele-relations, their co-conscious and co-unconscious states are brought to life. Co-conscious and co-unconscious states are by definition such states which the partners have experienced and produced jointly and which can therefore be only jointly reproduced or re-enacted. A co-conscious or a co-unconscious state can not be the property of one individual only. It is always a common property and cannot be reproduced but by a combined effort. If a re-enactment of such co-conscious or co-unconscious state is desired or necessary, that re-enactment has to take place with the help of all partners involved in the episode. The logical method of such re-enactment a deux is psychodrama. However great a genius of perception one partner of the ensemble might have, he or she can not produce that episode alone because they have in common their co-conscious and co-unconscious states which are the matrix from which they drew their inspiration and knowledge.