Couples go through seasons of difficulties when partners feel distant, unloved, and caught in a "dance" or pattern of fighting and pain.
Learning how to connect at a heart level to our lover is a way of engaging differently in the "marriage dance" that can bring about healthier communication, deeper connection, and overall healing.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is the scientifically based therapeutic approach to help couples thrive. In fact, studies show that over 70 percent of couples in EFT went from distressed to happy, and 90 percent significantly improved, in 15 to 20 sessions. Perhaps more important, the results were stable two years later.
For some books regarding EFT and couples work, please check out Sue Johnson's writings at http://www.holdmetight.net/ or the books below.
There are very few therapists who are both certified in EFT and certified as a sex therapist.
"Helping couples learn to connect emotionally and physically is a core part of my practice." - Kim Castelo
- Dr. Sue Johnson, Founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Adapted from Hold Me Tight © by Sue Johnson
The long-term goal of couples counseling is to help each partner become a source of security, protection, and comfort for the other. Our therapist help choreograph bonding moments in the session that can teach you how to soothe difficult feelings and co-construct positive moments that also lead to a more secure sense of self as a partner. This path is a journey that can include a transformation..
This is not an easy journey and below we outline the initials steps to starting this journey.
Come with an open mind to therapy
One needs to welcome the process of therapy in order to grow from it. Before you begin therapy, be mindful to allow counseling to create change within yourself and your relationship.
Try to think of the cycle you and your partner get into
Here are some examples of cycles:
Find the Bad Guy
“The more I feel attacked, the louder I get”
then . . .
you get louder
(In this cycle, both partners turn up the volume during conflict)
“If I feel disconnected and dismissed, I complain, demand, get critical,
then . . .
You move away, defend, shut down, and shut me out.
(In this cycle, one pursues the other while the other withdraws)
Freeze and Flee
“The more I see that you hold back and shut down . . .
the more careful and distant I am”
(In this cycle, the partners do not talk about issues and withdraw equally from each other)
In this step, allow yourself to name the cycle as the enemy and not your partner. Also allow yourself to notice what is your part in the cycle.
Notice what you are feeling when you get into the cycle
Here are some feelings that create change in the relationship but that are often not mentioned:
Even though many people talk about specific feelings such as being “frustrated,” “angry,” or “annoyed” here, we are actually looking for something a little deeper. Frustration, anger, and annoyance usually have to do with other, deeper feelings, such as feeling like one is not important or as if one does not matter. Slow yourself down here and ask yourself what is the deep, core feeling you are experiencing when you are in the cycle.
Ask yourself: Why do you want to work on this? Why is this particular relationship important to you?
An example of a response could be: “I want to work on this because I love you and I believe in us.”
Responses to these questions should be integrated with the feelings that are fueling the cycle:
“When I feel unimportant, I get louder. I do not want to get louder; I want to be close to you. Can you help me? I want to feel close to you.”
“When I feel like I am not good enough, I withdraw. I want to be able to help you. At times, I don’t know how to do that. Can you make space for me to try even if it is not perfect? I really want to feel connected to you.”
Once we name the cycle (remember: what we can name, we can tame), we can start to pursue different kinds of work, which will help repair, bring closeness, and provide clarity on how you both want the relationship to look going forward.
Reach for your partner
Talk to your partner about what has hurt you and what you are longing for in the relationship. Talk about your hurts and fears without defensiveness or criticism. Here we need to be vulnerable and not to fight or withdraw.
Respond to your partner
The goal here is to remind yourself that you want to heal this relationship; therefore, can you listen to your partner’s pain and validate them (validating does not mean they are 100% right)? Turn toward your partner and comfort them.
For the person who shares their hurts: make space for your partner's "try" here
Can you feel/see your partner’s reach? Remember that asking for perfection can sometimes sabotage connection.
[At this stage, we can flip roles and repeat steps 5 to 7 for the other person in the relationship, while following the same guidelines]
Building a healthy relationship
John Gottman’s research shows that most people fight about the same topic during their relationship, but that the way they have conflict changes.
Look for ways to engage differently; look for solutions and plan and solidify working as a team.
Strengthen and emphasize why you are in this life together. Need to make a plan for how you want to turn into each other when you are struggling. Also need to state why you want to put the effort into making this relationship work. This is the time where we take a deep breath and say, “We made it, and we are so much stronger now!”
Allowing yourself to see and to be seen fully with total love and acceptance can be a vulnerable process because of past pain and shame. Embracing our sexuality in all of its beauty can be difficult, yet possible, through therapy.
When people can connect their bodies, minds and souls to another person or accept these aspects of themselves, genuine and meaningful intimacy can take place.
Sex therapy can aid with the following issues:
Feel free to click each item to learn more about the topic and discover helpful resources
It is not uncommon for folks to feel stuck in the same patterns and ways of living. Healing from past trauma and learning how to navigate life differently in a safe environment can lead to personal transformation.
At Healing Moments Counseling, we strive to help individuals find their voice and healing so that they can thrive.
You do not have to heal, grow, learn by yourself. We are here to walk alongside you.
Let's find your voice and allow it to take space in your world!
We work with: