How are you feeling in your relationship today? What do you wish you could be feeling? Do these feelings seem possible? Have they been there in the past? Or have you always sought them? Either way, you probably wonder why it is so difficult. Does it mean you aren’t a good match? No, it doesn’t. It just means you need help and the right therapist can make a difference.
The amount of fighting or the challenges you face in getting along or finding the depth of connection you long for is not an in
dication of whether or not you are compatible. The truth is, fighting can play an important role in a relationship. Strong bonds are not formed by avoiding fights or contention. The strongest bonds are formed through struggle. It is in these moments that our love and commitment is tested and then renewed with one another. It’s true, things can get ugly for many couples and sometimes it seems we can never get to resolution or reconnection after a disagreement. Some of us need help.
When you engage in couples work with me we will work as a team to create a roadmap towards secure connection. I am certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy, the most empirically validated and widely accepted model of couples therapy. EFT allows us to learn the negative patterns that get in the way of connection. But what we are really trying to uncover is the positive patterns that take you into more closeness and give you that sense of love that we all crave. Really, it’s the craving for love that drives us. We are wired for connection.
But how do we get that connection? If we care about someone, we will work to connect with them. But there are different ways that we each go about it, sometimes using strategies that don’t work. Some of us are more inclined to go after it, to pursue it, or to protest the lack of it. In the world of Emotionally Focused Therapy, we call this kind of partner “pursuers” or “initiators.” Others find connection overwhelming, feel that we should not need another, or feel that seeking it only increases tension and so we withdraw to try to keep the peace. We call these folks “withdrawers” or “responders.” Most relationships have one of each, which can create a lovely dynamic when you learn to do your dance safely and effectively. Relationships between two pursuers tend to be more heated and have more fighting. Those that have two withdrawers tend to avoid fights, but don’t connect either. Whatever the combination, the key is discovering and re-shaping the patterns into something that works.
The solution is to dig-in and identify the cycle that leads you down the wrong road, then rework that cycle into one that brings you together. Emotion is the impetus for both positive and negative cycles. It comes down to understanding the emotion, expressing it, and then learning how to respond to it.
The journey to connection is going be different for every couple. Some couples will find their way through this process and into connection within a few months. For others it can take longer and include individual therapy for one or both partners. Others still can make remarkable changes in a weekend workshop with structured exercises to help you write your roadmap (see below). Here are a few ways to approach your journey:
Traditional Couples Therapy:
Couples who can engage in weekly sessions have the most success. It is like exercise…the more consistent you are the better. We are stretching, strengthening, and toning new emotional muscles, impulses and even neurons and the brain structure. You can think of it like training for a race, you get stronger faster when you are consistent.
Do you feel like you have a pretty good marriage, but just wonder about what an expert would say? Or if an expert can help you find a few tools to deepen your connection? Consider either a workshop (see below) or a series of 4-5 sessions where I will give you some reading materials and then help you examine and assess your relationship. Then provide you with a self-help plan including books, videos and workbooks that will help you talk about things that don’t come easy or naturally.
Perhaps you don’t know where to begin and you just need to talk with an expert. Or perhaps you have questions about a family member or simply need some dating advice. I offer free 15 minute consultations by phone. You can expand this into up to three 50-minute sessions by phone, video conferencing or in person at my regular rate. As a practice I do not provide therapy over video conferencing and limit consultation through this medium to 3 sessions.
Other options that I don’t personally provide, but can refer you:
Couples can work intensively with me for 2-10 hours over 2-3 days. This is ideal for a couple who can’t do traditional therapy because of work or living circumstances, or who need to make a big shift and want to dig in. If you’d like to discuss this option contact me to discuss further.
There are many offerings of the Hold Me Tight Workshop around the world. This is a 16-hour course based on the theory and practice of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT) and the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson. Couples will strengthen their bond by learning the theory and practice of love and the seven conversations in Hold Me Tight. You’ll also view video clips of real couples, engage in private couple structured exercises, and group discussion. You’ll also be able to consult with experienced couples therapists. I’ve offered these workshops, but will not be offering them in 2016. Check here for a listing.
To contact LuAnn, please complete the form below and you will be contacted as soon as possible: