Couples Counseling

Photo by dpenn/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by dpenn/iStock / Getty Images

When you are reactive, you are responding not to your partner—but to your worst fantasy of them. ~Terry Real

Many of us have automatic ways we engage, or not engage, in relationships. The body remembers these experiences from youth and plays a role in creating troublesome reactivity. This reactivity influences: behaviors, beliefs, power, boundaries, connection and vulnerability.

Our aim in couples therapy is to move from defensive, automatic reactive patterns to being curious, mindful and learning how accept responsibility. I help clients learn to track and manage reactivity, find the root cause and take responsibility. I also help them develop empathy for the other and quickly repair ruptures, or negative experiences, in the relationship.

What does a healthy secure relationship looks like?

  • I can be me.

  • You can be you.

  • We can be us. (We can define our version of being a couple).

  • I can grow.

  • You can grow.

  • We can grow together.

  • We each are able to explain own experience without having to invalidate our partner’s experience.

  • We each follow the golden rule.

  • We each can quickly “repair” after arguments.

(Kekuni Minton May 2018 Sensorimotor Psychotherapy workshop)

Possible goals for our couples work:

  • Celebrate similarities AND differences.

  • Be equally emotionally invested in the relationship.

  • Accept that your partner has flaws, can get triggered and this is okIntimacy is based on being yourself around your partner.

  • When differences arise, you are willing to listen and relate to your partner’s experience without defensiveness.

  • Voice your needs.

  • Seek connection vs. emotional protection.

Another common challenge to intimacy is when one partner feels less powerful or not accepted. S/he can be defensive, withdrawn, get triggered or be rejecting. This creates emotional unsafely. Examples include:

  • Be in control.

  • Be louder

  • Be bigger and possibly more violent.

  • Be too physically close.

  • Make unilateral decisions.

  • Act out.

  • Be emotionally dramatic.

  • Use a wounded inner child to win the power.

(Kekuni Minton May 2018 Sensorimotor Psychotherapy workshop)