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Marriage Counseling

Relationship Counseling: Two methods of couples therapy focus primarily on the process of communicating. The most commonly used method is active listening, used by the late Carl Rogers and Virginia Satir, and recommended by Harville Hendrix in Getting the Love You Want. More recently, a method called "Cinematic Immersion" has been developed by Warren Farrell in Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say. Each helps couples learn a method of communicating designed to create a safe environment for each partner to express and hear feelings. When the Munich Marital Study discovered active listening to not be used in the long run, Warren Farrell observed that active listening did a better job creating a safe environment for the criticizer to criticize than for the listener to hear the criticism. The listener, often feeling overwhelmed by the criticism, tended to avoid future encounters. He hypothesized that we were biologically programmed to respond defensively to criticism, and therefore the listener needed to be trained in-depth with mental exercises and methods to interpret as love what might otherwise feel abusive. His method is Cinematic Immersion. After 30 years of research into marriage John Gottman has found that healthy couples almost never listen and echo each other's feelings naturally. Whether miserable or radiantly happy, couples said what they thought about an issue, and "they got angry or sad, but their partner's response was never anything like what we were training people to do in the listener/speaker exercise, not even close. " Such exchanges occurred in less than 5 percent of marital interactions and they predicted nothing about whether the marriage would do well or badly. What's more, Gottman noted, data from a 1984 Munich study demonstrated that the (reflective listening) exercise itself didn't help couples to improve their marriages. To teach such interactions, whether as a daily tool for couples or as a therapeutic exercise in empathy, was a clinical dead end. By contrast emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT-C) is based on attachment theory and uses emotion as the target and agent of change. Emotions bring the past alive in rigid interaction patterns, which create and reflect absorbing emotional states. As one of its founders Sue Johnson says, Forget about learning how to argue better, analysing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. From the book, "Hold Me Tight" by Sue Johnson.

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