Jane has trained extensively in couple counselling and draws on various theoretical models when working with couples. Her main interest is in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and Attachment Theory – the belief that as human beings we are hardwired for connection.
Connection to a secure caregiver as infants ensures an optimum environment in which to grow and develop. A secure connection to an intimate other in adulthood, leads to a healthier, happier life. We are relational beings, and are not meant to go through life alone. We learn about relationships in our family of origin, and the way we learn to relate to others in early childhood, often persists and follows us into adult relationships.
Most psychotherapeutic models will agree that our past often presents in the here and now. Thought patterns and behavioural patterns become more and more ingrained over the years, and eventually are felt as automatic and very hard to shift. Often we are not aware of why we make certain choices or why we keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Therapy can provide a safe space in which to explore patterns of behaviour which were developed for a very good reason at some point in life, but are now perhaps causing challenges to your adult intimate relationship. When a couple seek counselling it is generally because the relationship has gone through some kind of rupture, or communication has broken down. The relationship is no longer offering you a safe haven from the stresses of life, instead it is what is causing you distress.
If your answers are “no” to the following questions you may be experiencing some difficulties in feeling close to your partner:
“Are you there for me when I need you?”
“Can I turn to you and share my deepest feelings with you? Will you listen?”
“Do I matter to you?”
When the answers to the above questions are “no”, the relationship starts to break down. Resentment may build, and we start reacting to the distressed relationship. We react in different ways – we get angry, we get critical, we shut down, we withdraw into ourselves, we turn elsewhere for comfort. We get caught up in a negative cycle of each of us reacting to the other in a way that causes more distress and further negativity.
The essential ingredient of EFT is to create a safe space in which emotional experience within and between the couple can be explored. The therapist works collaboratively with the couple in order to identify the role each partner plays in creating the negative cycle between them. There is no blame. Both partners are reacting to feeling a rupture in the attachment bond, and sometimes the way each person is reacting, fuels the problem and emotions start running high.
EFT helps slow the process down, begins to look at what is going on beneath the argument; what is stopping you from feeling secure and connected within the relationship. Therapy can be transformative, and with EFT studies suggest that up to 90% of couples feel closer after undergoing couple therapy.
For further information about EFT please see www.beftcentre.org