In the over 20 years I have worked with couples, I have found the tool of Brainspotting to be very effective in expressing feelings, managing anger, deeply connecting with each other. From the first session you will leave with tools to help you translate your therapy to the home environment. One of the most effective tools is to lower negative and painful activation to your partner. Simple breathing exercises can calm us down enough that we can continue difficult conversations. Ultimately the couple learns new was to communicate: undo gridlock and learn to compromise when dealing with difficult ongoing conflict.
The therapist or counselor gently helps the couple communicate. Much of the session the married or partnered couple will be facing and talking directly to each other. The therapist comes in to help the couple achieve more depth and support each individual to work on individual issues that arise. When working with a couple, there are three relationships in the room. The relationship between the couple and each of their relationships to themselves. The therapist monitors which issues need to be worked on together, and may stop the session and work with one of the individuals until they are able to relate to each other again.
This work is as effective with LGBT couples as it is with Heterosexual couples.
Here are some fundamental tips to begin a new relationship with each other.
All couples need to relinquish what they call the Four Horseman.
1) Criticism-no one wants to be criticized, and criticism will immediately put the partner on the defensive. Once a husband, wife or partner is on the defensive, the conversation becomes gridlocked. It then becomes a conversation about right and wrong, which rarely is productive. The antidote is using I statements and making a statement about how a particular behavior affects the person emotionally. For example: I become hurt and angry when when you tell me what I am doing is wrong.
2) Defensiveness-when we defend ourselves, we are not listening to the other. Taking responsibility for our own actions, even if it is only a little bit, will change the tone of the interaction. It becomes much more easy to listen to each other.
3) Contempt-This is a hard concept to get our minds around because it is such a strong word. However, we all do it everyday whenever we think that we are better than the other, or believe that we can handle a situation better than our partner. The antidote is to truly realize that each of us has our own unique way of seeing the world, and there is rarely a right or wrong way to act or believe. (An exception is: there is never any reason for any sort of domestic violence.)
4) Stonewalling-This is when we leave the conversation. That can mean physically or emotionally. This happens when someone in the relationship finds themselves flooded with feelings. It seems impossible to stay engaged. One of the little known tools in communication is to tell the truth at this moment. “I am flooded and need some time to sooth myself.” Or “I cannot continue this conversation right now, can we take a 30 minute break?” The most important component of this communication is setting a time to come back together and continue this conversation. This is powerful and can prevent weeks of upset.
Randy Weled, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist has completed the available training of Brainspotting.
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