The problem is never really the problem. When two people come together, no matter how much they love each other, conflict will occur. Conflict is unavoidable. The problems happen when we feel threatened by a loss of connection and either attack or withdraw in an effort to preserve the bond. We are hard-wired to form close bonds of attachment (such as the mother-child bond). That hard-wiring doesn't disappear when we mature, but instead becomes a driving force in our relationships. When we feel criticized, abandoned or emotionally invisible to our partner, it sends a danger signal to our brains that our very survival is in jeopardy. Attachment bonds are different from other bonds in that we are hard-wired to associate them with survival.
Those fights that happen over and over are happening for a reason. In the therapy session we will uncover what those reasons are. Often the repeat offenders are triggering deep feelings of guilt, shame or anger that we have long ago cut off from our consciousness. Viewed from this angle, of course a fight would erupt when you inadvertently wander into your partner’s emotional minefield. The antidote is to infuse the discussion with curiosity and compassion about why this discussion is so difficult for you and your partner.
How couples therapy is structured:
We need to do a complete assessment of the relationship so that the therapy can target the appropriate concerns of each individual. With this is mind, we will meet for 3 sessions devoted purely to assessment: 1 joint couples session (80 min) and 2 individual sessions (50 min). At the end of the first joint session session, I will give you instructions on how to fill out the Gottman Relationship Checkup, a comprehensive online questionnaire. We will schedule our individual assessments to take place prior to the next joint session. At the second joint meeting I’ll have reviewed the completed questionnaires so we can jointly create a treatment plan and prioritize which issues to give our immediate attention.
I am trained in Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) and have completed Level II training of Gottman Method of Couples Therapy. I recommend a 10 session commitment after the assessment period at a frequency of once a week if possible. Following the 10 sessions we can assess whether you want to continue the weekly schedule, move to less frequent sessions, or begin to phase out the therapy.
Call or email for a free phone consultation at 917-563-4210.