Being part of a couple requires concerted work and motivation to stay mutually connected particularly in longstanding relationship where the change process linked to key life events impacts respectively on each individuals’ differential desires and wants. This can ultimately cause a rift within a relationship where you can start to feel increasingly emotionally and physically estranged from your partner culminating in a mismatch of need and expectations. Ultimately if this gap within the relationship is not addressed accumulative frustration, a sense of rejection and unfulfillment can result in communication breakdown resulting in some relationships becoming toxic, volatile and emotionally abusive. This can be exacerbated when couples are faced with adversity through the emotional impact of loss through bereavement, the “empty nest syndrome”, problems with infertility, physical or mental illness and increased carers responsibility.
For some couples, experiencing adversity around separation and loss can retrigger difficult attachment histories from their own respective upbringing. If within the couple relationship this is happening for one or both within the relationship, this can culminate in a lack of mutual emotional attunement necessary for them to overcome adversity in a joined way.
As a systemic family psychotherapist, I use a relational framework and I am informed by Emotionally Focused Therapy principles and Attachment Based Family Therapy.
I will work jointly with the couple however at the onset of the therapeutic intervention I will offer two consecutive sessions on an individual basis. This affords me as the therapist to track the respective family narratives and attachment history which could be contributing to some of the communication difficulties. In joining with the couples, I engage in fostering an increased understanding for the couple of the underlying secondary emotional responses which might have contributed to the unhelpful behaviour patterns which have manifested between them. Within this context, roles and responsibilities and emotional responses are addressed. During the supportive facilitative sessions each person within the relationship is afforded the opportunity to access the difficult feelings within a safe therapeutic space which have contributed to the conflictual communication.
Within the latter stage of therapy through the consolidation of increased mutual understanding, empathy, emotional attunement and trust, the couple are invited to consider their relationship within the context of the “change process .“ Consolidation and review of the therapeutic process will take place in the concluding stage of therapy where reflection on the “dance of the relationship” will take place within the context of renewed understanding about each other’s emotional needs and respective triggers.