By Barbara Gabriel, MA, MFT
My parents divorced when I was 16 years old. It was devastating.
I had three other siblings greatly affected by this tragic experience. My parents really loved each other and they had some problems that were never addressed unfortunately. When they got divorced in the sixties there was not much couples therapy going on and if there was some, it certainly did not come close to what we are doing today. So the divorce happened even though my dad did not want it. My mom was so hostile and in so much pain that the only way she had to express that was with the “f – you, I am going to make you suffer for all that I have gone through.” My Dad had cheated on my mom a couple of times that she had found out about, and then just acted out her pain. Consequently, it deeply hurt me and my siblings, and we all spent years in therapy just trying to learn to stay connected to a healthy part of ourselves.
Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples
My point in telling you this is that this is how I came to this work. I have been trying to help couples for over twenty years to find effective ways of savings their relationships now and love the work. When I met Sue Johnson and started studying her EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) for Couples, I knew I had found my passion. I knew with this model, I could help couples recover, repair, and get back to the love they knew and the reason they got together in the first place. What excites me the most is that I can help couples repair their relationship and thus help their children (no matter what age) to have their full life with out the suffering that goes a long with divorce. They also get to see a model of relationship in their parents that works.
We all would love to see our parents repair their relationship. I have been studying Emotionally Focused Therapy for some years now and apply it with great results. First we look at the negative communication cycle that every couple gets into. This negative cycle of communication is unique to each couple, of course, but it does have some similar characteristics. Emotionally.
Focused Couples Therapy is based on Attachment Theory.
As the Therapist, I am looking for what happens when this couple is disconnected and things are not going well. This is where I determine the negative communication cycle, how that gets triggered with each person and each person’s contribution to this negative cycle. Usually there is a Pursuer and a Withdrawer. It can also look like two Withdrawers or two people who do both, pursue and withdraw. It is very powerful to identify how the negative cycle that goes on between the couple, gets activated and so they escalate and separate. We then start to look at what is really trying to be communicated. This is also so important and so powerfully healing for both parties. It is the therapists job to help the couple express the more vulnerable feelings that are under the reactive feelings. The therapist teaches the couple to communicate from this more vulnerable place.
This kind of communication has fantastic results. Both pursuers and withdrawers want to move closer to each other with this deeper communication. Every couple can learn this connecting communication. This is so wonderful, meaningful and healing for both people.
To learn and to practice this more vulnerable style of communication is what the work is all about. My parents could have done this. It could have saved their marriage and the pain that we all went through. With this work, we all could have had a loving family that was securely attached and all the members were moving out into the world from this safe base.
Focused Therapy. It works.
If you would like to learn this work without a therapist at first, and have a superb experience learning attachment theory and practicing these skills, please look into the Hold Me Tight Workshops. I love the workshops in San Francisco lead by Michelle Gannon, PhD and Sam Jinich, PhD. I have assisted many couple’s at these workshops and they are a revitalizing and repairing experience for your relationship. If you are thinking you can’t get the love back, please consider doing Emotionally. Planning a trip to San Francisco, California and including this workshop would be helpful and deepening to any relationship. View program details at: www.holdmetightworkshop.com
Barbara Gabriel is a licensed psychotherapist About Barbara Gabrieland researcher who for over twenty five years has been studying healthy couple bonding, security in individuals and raising secure children. Adding to Barbara’s expertise as a Couples and Individual Therapist, Barbara has been studying Attachment Theory and has completed in-depth training with the foremost researchers in Attachment, or what creates stronger more secure relationships between individuals and children.