Real Enemy Is The Cycle
Couples often come into therapy seeking ways to improve their communication or learn better conflict resolution solutions. Yet the real enemy for couples is the negative patterns of interaction that they get sucked into when their is conflict.
The negative dance is like a tennis game where one partner simply hits the issue back to the other partner. Nothings gets resolved. Each partner gets pulled into the negative cycle by their emotions…similar to how a driver in traffic can be pulled into angry “road rage” emotions.
More Space For Vulnerable Emotions
An EFT therapist knows that underneath that negative cycle are vulnerable emotions that are pushed down by anger and/or anxiousness. With lots of empathy, acceptance, and validation, the EFT therapist warmly and gently guides one partner at a time to go deeper. Up from the depths comes statements like, “I feel sad” or “defeated”. The EFT therapist slows everything down to make more space for the sadness to be unpacked and seen. The other partner then hears and experiences what is underneath the anger or the shutdown.
Softer Emotions Encourage Connection
Susan Johnson writes, “When we slow down the ‘spin’ of these circular dances, softer emotions, like sadness, fear, embarrassment, and shame, always appeared. Talking about these emotions, maybe for the first time, and seeing how their pattern trapped them both, helped the couple feel safer with each other.” The partner that usually shuts down and withdraws, no longer feels threatened. No one had to be the “bad guy”.
Sharing these softer emotions allows couples to connect with each other on a deeper level and they begin to see each other differently. For partners to reconnect, they both need to learn ways to take greater risks, to show the softer part of themselves. The side of themselves that they hid in the negative cycle. The withdrawn partner feels safer to share their more vulnerable emotions which explains their action tendency to withdraw. The more pursuing partner then feels more connected and his/her anxiety lessons. The negative dance de-escalates and is replaced with a new positive dance that strengthens love and connection.
Emotionally Focused Therapy For Couples
Emotionally Focused Therapy helps couples de-escalate their negative interactions and replace with a new narrative of safety, understanding, and empathy. If you are finding that your relationship suffers from a negative cycle of disconnection, please contact my office today to setup an initial consultation to learn more about Emotionally Focused Therapy.