- At October 23, 2014
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Conflict, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, Healing after an Affair, NEW BABY - NEW PARENTS, Relationship physiology
Some interesting thoughts on making a relationship and marriage last in this article in Men’s Health magazine
Worth a look…
- At July 08, 2013
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, Relationship physiology
Dan Siegel speaks about the value of Mindfulness practice. A bit like flossing the brain.
The EFT therapy approach provides down-to-earth, practical and often, transformative alternatives for couples.
This mystery of love, this mixture of sex and emotion – what happens in relationships that we are swept to the heights of passion and delight, to anxiety and anger, shame and rage.
EFT draws on contemporary research and findings and is enriched by understandings from interpersonal neurobiology.
Our emotional system is complex… involving many components.
Lets look at the following scene. When Susan, tired and hungry following a day’s work, notices that Bob hasn’t changed the toilet roll – again, she experiences a tightness in her stomach, tension in her throat and clenching of her jaw muscles. She labels this flow of sensations, this experience “anger”.
The experience also includes her thoughts about Bob. Her thoughts produce a story which goes like this: “ I can’t stand how selfish he is… what a jerk… and really just like his useless brother”. As the emotions get bigger, her thoughts unfold, all this while she is looking at the empty toilet roll. Her stomach tightens, tension in her throat intensifies. “ I don’t know why I married him “ she continues to herself, “and when we made love last night, he didn’t really care about me. Why do I even bother to talk to him…It’s useless’” More “anger”.
Bob comes into the living room excited about the vacation he is planning. He reaches out to Susan, eager to give her a hug and share travel details with her. She pushes him away with her expression and he blurts out “What the hell is the matter with you .. I mean you really need to chill” and she retorts with an insulting name and he retorts with a slightly more complex insulting name and the volume increases by about ten decibels and their heart rates, blood pressure and adrenaline increase culminating in Susan storming out of the room crying and Bob clenching his jaw, frozen and unable to talk and both in great pain. Whew! And most amazing of all, this all happens in a couple of seconds sometimes even less.
Emotional Arousal affects what we do and how we think
It is well established that emotional arousal affects what one does and how one thinks. Research from about one hundred years ago points out that while low or moderate amounts of stress and arousal help keep one focused, alert and on task for example, a job interview or making a presentation – however, when the arousal increases beyond a moderate level, reactions change dramatically.
With higher levels of arousal generally, attention is focused on escaping or getting away from the high level of emotion.
Alan Fruzetti in “The High Conflict Couple” has researched high-conflict couples extensively and makes the point that when a partner’s attention is reoriented to escape, that may be considered the moment at which what is called “emotional dysregulation” begins.
Emotional dysregulation gets in the way
When the emotional system becomes dysregulated, it gets in the way of being able to respond effectively to the situation.
This is simply because parts of the brain are activated which interfere with effective problem solving and strategic thinking. What happens typically, is that one’s perspective becomes more narrow and tunnel-like with an emphasis again on escaping or getting away from the uncomfortable or painful situation. It becomes almost impossible to see things from the point of view of one’s partner. In this state of emotional arousal, validation of one’s partner, essential to communicating effectively, becomes impossible.
Skills which support emotional regulation..
Skill-based approaches such as Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can support effective communication, especially under stressful conditions. These skills can be learned and practiced and can transform the way in which you and your partner deal with emotional intensity in powerful ways.