"We need help!"
When a couple comes in for counseling together, it usually means that they would like to find out if they can repair the relationship. For one thing, that means learning better communication. How do you learn to communicate well with your significant other? Each person will discover in the therapy sessions what “triggers” each other’s anger response. That is, we explore how much of it is ‘projection’ (e.g., he/she reminds you of someone in the past; (perhaps a parent) and how much of it is real. It is usually a combination of both.
If one or both of you feel the relationship cannot work anymore, then the therapy will bring out why, and the validity of this will either be confirmed or transformed into a better relationship. Thus, the decision will become evident.
Each of the partners will explore who his/her partner reminds him of, and each will assess one’s own reactions to his/her partner. To optimize this process, role playing will be used in the model of Psychodrama, and the two-handed technique.
I will ask each partner will communicate, to begin with, in their own words what each feels is good about the relationship, and what is painful and frustrating to them in the relationship.
Where there seems to be an impasse, we will work to uncover the reasons underlying the impasse and unravel its causes. The goal is to resolve these issues and to learn new ways to communicating. If anger rises up, I will teach you how to deal with it so that the communication can continue in a constructive way.
Continue working at home
You will be asked to continue what you have begun in therapy at home with each other; or, if separated, during the times you spend together.
Because of the weekly continuity of the therapy sessions, new feelings and thoughts about the relationship will come up in each of you. This will lead to a healthier, happier relationship. It will be like starting over; a renewal of how you felt about each other in the beginning of the relationship. A transformation of old habit patterns of communicating feelings and thoughts to one another will be developed and a renewal of the partnership made possible. A happier, more open relationship will be born.
In the beginning of couples counseling, it is essential that each person explore the wounds from the past. Without realizing it, these wounds get in the way of a harmonious, loving relationship. It is not that an argument will never again happen, but with new skills of communication and control of anger outburst, a deeper, more understanding relationship can develop. I help couples to achieve this. First, each person must examine, in therapy, what about the other “triggers” an anger or other painful response. I teach each person how to “withdraw projections” from each other which gets rid of excess baggage. The term “projection” means that dynamics from a past relationship with a parent and previous romantic relationships will still haunt each person and bring that into the present relationship. He or she may or may not have the qualities of the relationships that haunt you, but most likely they do, and they are projected onto the other so that it is difficult to be present with your current partner and to really “see” him or her. By withdrawing the projections, the relationship can be based on the reality of the two of you, and healthier interactions can be learned.
It becomes evident to both, when, how, and why each person projects past wounds onto their partner. Everyone has unconscious contents, a repository of painful feelings and events that have been repressed for survival. They are hidden not only from your partner, but also from yourself. Then, when the couple gets into an argument, they push each other’s “triggers” that tap into these hidden feelings.
In therapy these “triggers” are revealed and faced, so that at home when they are each triggered by the other and things begin to escalate, they are able to tone it down, and stand back from reacting. Then they are able to look at the issues more objectively as a result of what they have learned in psychotherapy.
When you have a conflict with your partner and anger rises, you are so sure that the source of your anger and pain is your partner. If you both make a pact not to hurt each other with words, but to take a break from the argument; during this time each of you will look within and examine the triggers from your partner that set you off, to see if there are origins of the pain from the past, clouding your judgment. Your may find that some of your pain is due to projections and part of it due to his or her behavior; and vice versa. It becomes clearer when the projections are withdrawn, as they actually make the conflict much bigger than it really is. Then when you get together to talk about it calmly, you, and/or your partner may apologize for something that was said or done to hurt each other.
The past wounds which probably occurred when you were a child, were buried in the unconscious. Because, at a young age it is too painful; one really believes the signals from the parents, or others, that he or she is worthless or unimportant. This is the kind of child abuse that seems to be innocuous, but really it is one of the most damaging to the psyche of the individual. This belief is carried over into adulthood and until it is rectified in therapy it can wreak havoc with one’s relationships and overall sense of well-being.
Therefore, couples and marriage counseling work with the individual wounds and unravel causes of unrest; simultaneously, in psychotherapy I work with the present interaction, feelings and issues of the couple in therapy. In this way, a healing can occur, even if the issues of each individual are disparate. It all boils down to bringing the dark into the light; understanding; and compassion for each other.