Trouble comes to every relationship. We bring in our old, imperfect attachment patterns from early childhood and play them out with our loves. So we wound each other. But deep down, we really want to connect, know each other, and be known.
I treat couples with an approach based on Susan Johnson’s Emotion Focused Couples Therapy. This model focuses on the attachment relationship between partners. We work to repair that attachment by helping partners tune in to the attachment dance happening between them in real time, and giving each other the safe space in which to notice and heal that dance.
But since I’m also a trauma psychologist, I infuse EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy into most of my work with couples. I do this because most couples (maybe all couples) bring past trauma with them into their current relationship . . . then experience more trauma in and through that adult attachment. It’s just what we do.
If we can reprocess old trauma that preceded the relationship, that goes a long way in allowing partners to reconnect. If we can heal the actual relationship by soothing the core of it, that’s a game changer.
COUPLES THERAPY BLOGS
Love is Self Care for Therapists
Relationship Self Care for Therapists When was the last time you applied your counseling skills to yourself to think about your own love life as a critical component of your self-care? Relationships form the essential bedrock of self-care. All the yoga and massage in...
Self Care for Therapists: The Relational Side
Why Relational Self-Care Matters to Your Work Do you think of your love life as a critical component of your self-care? If you’re like most of us, probably not. Let’s see . . . work out: check, sleep eight hours: check, feel close with someone I love? . . . Not so...
Reversing Helper Burnout by Coming Home to Ourselves
Health Practitioners in a Crisis of Disconnection Helper burnout creates disconnection of all kinds. As therapists (or other healthcare professionals), this kind of fatigue isolates us from our bodies, our creativity, our sense of meaning, and our intimate...
ReConceive Therapy: Co-Therapy for Everyone’s Nervous System
Sometimes solo therapy feels pretty bleak . . . A client tells you he has no emotion as he reveals his father’s suicide. Therapy fails to gain traction and he continues to not feel. Another client has an auto-immune disorder that started when she discovered her...
ReConceive Therapist Burnout
Burnout in helping professionals becomes a way of life. ReConceive podcast shows you how to reverse it.
ReConceive Podcast: BodyMind Therapy and Love
Body psychotherapy nurtures the link between moving and changing. Attention to the body allows love, learning, and healing from trauma.
The Other Pandemic: Bad Religion, Part I
So Many Sick People A sea of sick people. Not bad people. Just regular people who've joined at least one cult. I believe that bad religion, religious abuse, and spiritual trauma hurt the individual, the community, and the world. Right now, the United States has more...
Politics and the Sibling Bond: Anger Wisdom, Part XXVI
Sibling Political Anger I just spent a Saturday with my brother – after years of unspoken anger, political divisions, and very little contact. Three years my junior, he lives just twenty minutes away, Yet, we see each other perhaps once or twice a year. Michael and I...
Mindful Anger: Anger Wisdom, Part XXV
Mindful anger means experiencing the emotion in an: 1. awake, 2. deliberate, and 3. self-nurturing way. Let’s break this down a bit so we can see how to love ourselves through difficult moments. Last week, I had an experience that allowed me to practice this. The...
Boundaries and Compassion: Anger Wisdom, Part XXIV
How does anger help with compassion? Yesterday I talked with a friend who grasped, for the first time, how a family member had emotionally abused her. In about five minutes, she went from confused and ashamed . . . to angry, as she pieced together an incident in which...
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