Dr. Ellyn Bader
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I’m still thinking about this call. One question that came up afterwards in working with a couple around co-regulating is what if you have them hug and they feel nothing – neither one of them?
That would elicit enormous curiosity from me-especially around what is getting in the way of any warmth.
Have they psychologically left the marriage/relationship?
Are they really, really angry with each other?
Are they on the spectrum?
I’d go slow but want to figure that out asap.
That would be a
(3) No, but the husband doesn’t have a lot of access to feelings other than anger. We’re working on that.
The wife keeps trying to feel something, “anything” and wants to for the husband but continues, so far, to feel nothing for him other than anger and what she calls roommate type of love. The sexual relationship between them is active, about 1x per week, but not connected or loving.
Elizabeth, if they have psychologically left the marriage/relationship, what are their goals for coming in? Are they working on wanting to repair the relationship, to make a decision of some sort, or to separate? They don’t both have to be there for the same thing, but knowing what they are there for can help you to structure where to go next.
This may help them to identify some of the emotions they have in addition to anger: https://www.couplesinstitutetraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/CI_Handout-Emotions_under_the_Anger.pdf
How long have they been angry with each other to this degree? Was there a specific incident that changed things?
How long have they been together and what brought them together?
The husband came in to get the wife to stay in the marriage and the wife came in to make a decision. They’ve been angry for over 5 years, probably closer to 10 and have been together for 15. They don’t really have a love story to tell about meeting and both describe the relationship as being “functional,” like they’re a good team but never really fell in love beyond the initial attraction to each other.
Elizabeth, Do they want to grow closer?
How do they react to questions about what makes the other person feel loved, valued, appreciated, or special?
The wife does but the husband says outright that he’s not interested in growing closer, just “staying married.” He’s not interested in her at all – her thought process, stuff she wants to share throughout the day (her attempts to connect), etc. She also said she’s not interested in anything he’s interested in, like learning about sports which he loves, taking kids to temple is his thing, etc. She was confronted with the disparity between wanting connection but not to actually know him better or connecting in any way that’s meaningful to him (not just in ways meaningful to her). When confronted, she cried, laid on the floor, and the session was out of time . . . When they came back the following week, they both maintained their positions.
Elizabeth, I can’t remember if we’ve already talked about this, but what exactly are they coming in for? What are they hoping to get out of therapy?
I wonder what it is about “staying married” that is so attractive to him.
Was she talking while crying? How did her previous relationships and or family of origin manage conflict? Is this a pattern for her?
I’m trying to download the slides but not getting anywhere. is there an issue with the website or is it a problem on my end? Can someone help?
never mind – I managed to download them.
I talk a lot about regulating self through another person, so this really filled out the underpinnings of that need for so many of my clients. I’m eager to keep learning how to walk it out with clients in new ways.
I loved this call and all of the information presented. I was very familiar with all the types except disorganized! So loved the information about it. Also really enjoyed hearing about speech patterns. I have a podcast and through running it in the past couple of years have been much more tuned into speech patterns. I knew something was there but couldn’t really put my finger on it. Now I have a wonderful frame for them. Thank you!
A question I have is how much do you “manage” the speech in session of someone ambivalent? It’s the speech style I find most frustrating, particularly when I can’t get a word in edgewise. Do you just accept that it’s going to take longer to get information and relax into it? Or do you educate them about speech and attachment and let them know you’ll be interrupting which may feel uncomfortable for them? Any suggestions?
Elizabeth, while I don’t know the answer to your question specifically related to the disorganized attachment style itself, you may like this call here with Diane that is dedicated to disorganized attachment: https://www.couplesinstitutetraining.com/april-28-2017/
Overall, yes, it is really helpful to get permission to interrupt clients. Another idea I usually ask about is whether the pattern that they are showing to me in the office is similar to what happens outside of the office and if they would like to learn to do something different. That’s usually how I frame the beginning of my discussion about interrupting them so that I can help them to see other ways that they could react in moving toward what it is that they would like in their ideal relationship, etc.
Does that help?
I listened to the disorganized one too already! Loved it! That’s a great way to frame the discussion – thank you!
This is a great call! I like the reminder about being able to take things in. That also fits with the idea of giving and receiving that as part of the Developmental Model (I know it’s directly mentioned as part of the Paper Exercise in Lesson 9).
I really enjoyed Diane’s presentation on attachment theory/practice. I will search out the presentation that she did before and I am looking forward to whenever she might be again be called to spend more time with us. Thank you
Jacklin H. Andrews
This was a great presentation and I learned a lot. I especially appreciated the question about Aspergers because I think people who are attachment avoidant or ambivalent could present as on the spectrum, but the determining factor is their history. This gives me lots of direction when encountering clients who are very socially awkward and unique in their communication style. Thanks for a very informative presentation.
This was an extremely helpful bonus call for me. While I do bring attachment into my couples work which helps to normalize couples interactions, I had no resources as to exercises to enhance positive attachment. My default has only been CBT to work on changing automatic negative thoughts.This is great!!
very helpful – looking forward to putting this info to use with my clients!
Diane Heller’s talk was an extremely helpful mix of theory and practice.I look forward to implementation of her ideas.
I’m on, but listening only. — Jane Moses
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