NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

EFT Couple Counseling: New Bonds of Love Can Replace a Negative Cycle in a Relationship

I began discussing EFT couple therapy in my previous two articles (see my articles: EFT Couple Therapy: Overcoming the Negative Dynamic in Your Relationship That Keeps You Both Stuck and How EFT Couple Therapy Can Help Improve Your Relationship).  In this article, I'm focusing specifically on how EFT couple therapy can help couples to replace negative cycles with new ways of bonding.

EFT Couple Counseling: New Bonds of Love Can Replace a Negative Cycle in a Relationship

Negative cycles are often difficult for a couple to see on their own. But when an EFT couple therapist assesses a couple, she can eventually identify the negative cycle and help the couple to change it so that they can learn new ways of bonding together.

Fictional Clinical Vignette: Developing New Ways of Bonding in EFT Couple Therapy
The following fictional clinical vignette illustrates how an EFT couple therapist can help a couple to recognize the negative cycle that they're stuck in and help the couple to stop the negative cycle so they can develop a new way of bonding together:

Ann and Tom
After 10 years of marriage, Ann and Tom were locked into an ongoing emotional battle where each of  them felt unloved and unappreciated by the other.

Ann explained to their EFT couple therapist that they had talked about the possibility of divorce, but they wanted to try to see if they could salvage their marriage, especially since they had two young children.

She said that problems began about five years into their marriage when their first son was born.  Tom had just started his own consulting business, and Ann had taken off time from her career to raise their son.

With stressors related to a new business and raising a young child, they began to drift apart.  They were frequently exhausted and their sex life had waned.  Tom said that Ann was a wonderful mother to their son, but she hardly ever wanted to take time for just the two of them.

He said he tried numerous times to persuade Ann to leave their son with her mother so they could go on vacation together and rekindle their relationship, but she refused to do it.  Eventually, he got tired of trying to persuade her, he threw himself into his work, and they continued to drift apart (see my article: Telltale Signs That You and Your Spouse Are Drifting Apart).

A few months prior to coming to couple therapy, Tom told Ann he felt like he was living with a roommate.  He told her that they were still young enough to start their lives over, and he broached the topic of divorce.  Shocked and upset, Ann told Tom that it would be devastating for their children if they got a divorce, and she wanted to see if they could save their marriage, which was what brought them into EFT couple therapy.

As the EFT couple therapist listened to each of them talk about their relationship history, it was clear to her that, in the past, Tom had been the pursuer in the relationship, and Ann had been the withdrawer.  Tom had been the one who was reaching out to Ann earlier in their marriage, and Ann withdrew emotionally from Tom.

By the time they came for couple therapy, they both appeared to be withdrawn and exhausted.  The EFT couple therapist noted that they hardly looked at each other when they spoke and neither of them made an effort to connect with a look or a touch.  And yet here they were seeking help in therapy.

When the EFT couple therapist asked what attracted each of them to the other  when they first met, Tom said how attracted he was to Ann when they first met in a college class.  He was drawn to her passion and enthusiasm in the class, and he eventually asked her out on a date.  Ann said she was drawn to Tom's good looks and how he made her laugh when they went out.

As they spoke about their relationship history, the EFT couple therapist noticed each of them come alive momentarily, and she commented on it.  For the first time in the session, Tom reached over to Ann, but Ann looked away and Tom withdrew his hand.

When the EFT couple therapist pointed out this interaction and asked Ann how she experienced it, Ann said that she felt emotionally numb.  She said it had been so long since they had touched one another in any way that she felt uncomfortable.  She said, even though she wanted her marriage to work out, she felt a sense of helplessness and almost hopelessness about it.

As the EFT couple therapist helped Ann and Tom to identify their negative cycle, which included Tom making gestures for connection and Ann pulling away, they both agreed that this was their negative dynamic, and they didn't know how to change it.

Over time, with the EFT couple therapist's help, Ann began to express her emotional vulnerability with caution, and Tom listened and felt more compassionate towards Ann.  She said that, after their first child was born, she felt Tom was making emotional demands of her that she couldn't fulfill, and she felt like a failure as a wife.

After their second child was born, Ann said, she felt that Tom's suggestion that they take time apart from their children felt impossible for her.  At the time, she didn't want to leave them in the care of her mother to go away with Tom, and this was the source of frequent arguments between them--until Tom buried himself in his work and Ann became more involved in their children's activities.

They were each able to see how they had gotten to this point after Ann withdrew emotionally and Tom became more resentful, distant and stopped trying to get closer to Ann.

With the help of the EFT couple therapist, each of them began to take small steps to allow themselves to be more open and vulnerable with each other and, slowly, things began to change as they developed a new emotional bond.

In most relationships where the couple is having problems, there is often a negative cycle in the relationship where there is a pursuer and a withdrawer.  After being immersed in this negative cycle for a while, the pursuer might also eventually withdraw emotionally until the couple drifts apart.  Without help, a couple who is stuck in a negative cycle often continues to drift apart until the relationship ends.

With help in EFT couple therapy, a couple can begin to identify their negative cycle and make small gestures to change.  It can take a while for each person in the relationship to trust again to be able to be emotionally vulnerable.

The role of the EFT couple therapist is to help the couple see their negative cycle and develop new ways of bonding.

Getting Help With EFT Couple Therapy
Many couples who are stuck in a negative cycle are helped by EFT couple therapy to learn new ways of relating so they can bond emotionally again.

If you and your spouse are having problems in your relationship, you owe it to yourself and your relationship to get help.

Rather than continuing to drift apart, getting help in EFT couple therapy could save your relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing and EFT couple therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples, and I have helped many people to improve their relationships.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.