I use an integrated approach in couple's counseling.

Here is some information related to how I work with couples.

Utilized in Emotional Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT-C) developed by Sue Johnson: Attachment theory (J. Bowlby and M. Ainsworth) describes three main “attachment styles” in all relationships, from those of parent and child to intimate romantic relationships:

  • Secure people tend to feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

  • Anxious people crave intimacy, but are often pre-occupied with their relationships. They tend to worry about whether or not their partners love them back.

  • Avoidant people tend to equate intimacy with a loss of independence and will try to minimize closeness.

These attachment styles are seen as significant in how one interacts in their primary relationship. One does not have to be trapped in their attachment style; partners effect one's attachment style; an individual can positively impact their attachment style through learning self-soothing and mindfulness techniques.

 

In Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy; The Dynamics of Emotion, Love, and Power, the authors, Greenberg and Goldman, 2008, expand on the original EFT-C approach emphasizing the importance of self-soothing in each partner in a relationship to alter or interrupt  the destructive pattern in the relationship and allow the couple to have a new experience of their partner and their relationship. 

 

Methods for self-soothing vary from person to person; techniques include, but are not limited to: exercise, journal, music, aromatherapy, time in nature, pets, breathing, meditations, hot baths, reading, art,  self-talk, cooking, talking. 

Four attitudes that predict the dissolution of a relationship, according to John Gottman, developer of the Gottman Method, for are: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, Stonewalling

Gottman's Seven Principles include the following concepts:

Build Love Maps         Express Fondness and Admiration         Turn toward One Another                                Accept Influence          Solve Problems That Are Solvable:      

            Manage Conflict and Overcome Gridlock    Create Shared Meaning

The difficulties one experienced in childhood - such as feeling like you: were never good enough; were held back by a smothering/needy parent; were ignored or unimportant - have an impact on how one relates to others, particularly in one’s primary relationship. The issues that are the result of these childhood dynamics resurface repeatedly and can negatively impact the relationship. Stepping into the other person’s shoes and understanding their issues/feelings/developed ways of coping is the starting point of healing according to Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT) developed by Dr. Harville Hendricks and Dr. Helen Lakelly Hunt starting with the book, Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 1988.