Week 19. Working with Emotions in Couple Therapy. objectives. homework

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1 Week 19 Working with Emotions in Couple Therapy objectives homework To explore the presence and value of emotions in couple counselling To understand experiential processes useful in working with emotions To practise experiential skills Read: Reading 22 Sadness in Couples Therapy Crawley & Grant Ch 4 But What About Love? Assignments: Complete Assignment 1 Complete any unfinished work May 2014 St Mark s National Theological Centre Page 65

2 19.1 Exploring Emotions in Couple Work Stages in exploring the problematic reaction point Stage 1: Positioning for exploration where the client s emotional reaction and their own response to it is highlighted, and an agreement for exploration is made. Stage 2: Experience re-evoked encourages the client to review the relevant scenario, and the moment of their reactivity is clarified, eg. So you were just leaving for work, and you became when you heard the tone of her voice. Stage 3: Tracking construed personal meaning of stimulus situation occurs as the client maintains a focus on their emotional reaction, but are invited to articulate how they see their partner thinking about them and how that leaves them feeling. Stage 4: Facilitate broader self exploration assists the client to become aware of internal emotional schema that drive their perceptions of their partner s behaviour, etc. Different emotions in couple work 1. Anger: Will be considered in detail in Semester Sadness 3. Fear One of the most important emotions to be expressed in couple work. Primary sadness needs to be distinguished from maladaptive sadness (that is, that left over from previous relationships). Frequently found behind the blamer s critical stance which is their misguided attempt at generating closeness. Needs to be expressed: the client being supported by the counsellor, as the other person listens respectfully. Expression can bring the couple together in a caring way. Can be a strong motivator for seeking connection, and hence bind people together. All adults experience some fear or anxiety when a relationship bond is broken or threatened. Maladaptive fear responses such as separation anxiety can be a source of conflict. Anxiety arising from past or present trauma can place a strain on the relationship as the person struggles to get their security needs met. Fear of being vulnerable, resulting in a fear of intimacy, is ultimately based on a core fear of rejection, abandonment or annihilation. - - The counsellor s role is to assist each person to be aware of their own fears driving their behaviour, to be able to self-soothe and also be available to soothe their partner in an appropriate manner. Page 66 St Mark s National Theological Centre May 2014

3 4. Shame Needs to be identified and named, including associated feelings of inadequacy and humiliation. Shame cycles from each person s family of origin, along with any shame cycles within the relationship, are articulated, and the present interaction is reformed. 5. Positive feelings Enhance relationships, learning and problem solving. Can be helpful in transforming or buffering against negative ones. Often reappear when negative interactions are reduced. Can be encouraged through increasing the amount of loving exchanges, both verbally and physically. Being involved in a variety of joint and new experiences raises the level of joint interest in a relationship. References: Greenberg, L. & Goldman, R. N. Emotion Focused Couples Therapy. Washington: APA May 2014 St Mark s National Theological Centre Page 67

4 19.2 Working with Emotions in Couple Work Using Cushion Work Aims of multiple chair/cushion work To assist with assessment - highlighting different aspects of the clients that are impacting the relationship. To complete unfinished business with external figures. To work on re-parenting - often depowering the critical internal parent. To develop or allow an internal dialogue, eg. a self-soothing capacity. Options in multiple chair/cushion work Feel the feeling. Dialogue with another/develop empathy for another. Recall a childhood scene. Place their parent in the room. Access and dialogue with their inner child part. A generic protocol for working with multiple chair/cushion work Ask the couple (or individual) to feel and locate their feelings. Process with them what it is like to feel/locate their feelings. Invite them to select a cushion to represent their feeling. Place the cushion in a chair opposite where they are seated. Talk about/describe the feeling. Ask them to speak directly to the feeling, or ask the cushion a question. (Moving to the chair) Ask them to become the feeling and experience it as separate to their adult selves. (Moving back to own seat) Say what they have heard, maybe respond to the cushion. This dialogue may be continued. (Moving to observer position) Ask them to comment on what they observe. Debrief main elements and assist with integration and meaning. Reference: Webster, M. Multiple Chair Workshop. Institute for Emotionally Focused Therapy. Annandale. 2001, pp Page 68 St Mark s National Theological Centre May 2014

5 Student Notes

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