Theoretical Background and Approach
I am originally trained and have a Master of Arts in an integrated form of the two therapies Systemic Therapy and Psychodynamic Relationship Therapy. I have also undergone further training and certification in the EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy), which in many ways follows my earlier direction. However, the EFT approach enhances and facilitates the process of the couples therapy. EFT is therefore the method I mainly use and I believe that it is the most effective approach when working with relationships.
EFT - Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is a form of psychotherapy developed by British-Canadian Sue Johnson. This therapy form is based on the inner experiences of the partners during the therapy process and helps in understanding what happens during conflicts from on an attachment perspective. By creating and experiencing a safer way of connecting in the therapy room, the relationship is also strengthened at home and in the long term. In other words, the therapy is not about discussing who is right or wrong in matters of interest but about creating a safer connection and thereby facilitating better communication where conflicts can be resolved and prevented.
Usually, 15-20 therapy sessions (weekly) are recommended. During these sessions, the emotional and relational interactions of the couple are processed in the following stages:
1. Foundation / Stabilization
Initially, I want to create a quiet, neutral and safe environment where you can start understanding how problems arose from both partners perspective. The first session revolve around your relational history and current difficulties in the relationship. In most cases, I propose an individual session each after the first assessment session, so that both of you will have a chance to tell your story and to get to know me as a therapist.
After these three initial sessions, we continue together and work on understanding how your conflicts often look in general, with particular focus on what triggers them and how you usually act on these occasions. Often, early in the process, a quite specific pattern of the re-occurring conflicts will transpire. This pattern will act as a negative spiral and often cause the couple to feel more and more stuck despite working hard on trying to get out of it. This first phase usually helps the de-escalation of a previously triggered situation, which is often perceived as very positive and offer new hope for the relationship.
2. Restructuring the couple's emotional bond.
Once de-escalation is achieved and both parties have a better understanding of their conflict pattern as well as your own and your partner's position in the dynamic, we will work to increase deeper self-awareness about your emotional triggers and how they play up in dynamics.
With increased insight, we seek to find new, more constructive ways of connecting to each other so that the security of the relationship is strengthened and more of a "team feeling" occurs. At the end of this phase, a positive change usually takes place by restoring the emotional security between you.
The relationship now feels much stronger and more positive and hopeful.
In the last step, we strengthen the new ways of experiencing, responding and relating, and we process it so that it becomes a natural way for you to interact with each other.
(For more information about both EFT and "Attachment Theory" see links on the right).
Below is a description of the two other theoriforms that underlie my experience. :
Systemic Psychotherapy has long been acknowledged as one of the most effective approaches when working with couples and families.
Systemic therapy is a form of therapy that sees psychological problems as emerging within a context of past and present relationships with others.
When one or more member(s) of a couple or a family meet with problems, it will affect their partner and/or others in the family. The way people relate and behave towards each other may change from what previously was the case. This can cause a negative downward spiral where arguments escalate and/or the communication breaking down. The couple or family seem to get stuck in a destructive pattern of relating to each other.
A systemic therapist will encourage openness to and understanding of each person’s way of seeing the problem. He or she will also explore in detail how each individual feels about the situation and their reactions. This method will aim to challenge and shift the destructive pattern and encourage change, in order to promote more positive ways of relating between the individuals within a couple or a family.
An important idea behind the psychodynamic approach to couples and family therapy is that ways of relating experienced during childhood often emerge in our adult relationships. The therapist will therefore guide the couple / family members to become aware of these often sub-counscious forces in order to reach a emotionally based understanding for both their own and their partner’s / family member’s actions. This will, together with discussions regarding changes and expectations for the future, enable and support positive change.
By helping the couple / family exploring their feelings, needs, motives and relations, psychodynamic psychotherapy will partly involve understanding each individual’s life story as well as their mutual history. However, the main part will focus on working with feelings, thoughts, motives and relations significant for the current situation.