NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Stage Two of EFT Couple Counseling: A Clinical Example

In a prior article about Stage One of EFT couple therapy, I provided a fictional clinical vignette to illustrate what happens during Stage One.  Also, see my articles:
Stage Two of EFT Couple Counseling: A Clinical Example
In this article, I'm providing a fictional clinical vignette of Stage Two using the same fictional couple to show the next step in the process of EFT couple therapy.

Fictional Clinical Vignette: Stage Two of EFT Couple Therapy:
The following vignette illustrates how an EFT couple therapist works with a couple during Stage Two of EFT couple therapy:

Ted and Rita
In a prior article, Ted and Rita, who were married for five years, began EFT couple therapy after Rita found out that Ted had been cheating with his ex-girlfriend.  Ted ended his affair with his ex and expressed genuine remorse for the pain that it caused Rita and the damage it did to their relationship.

Initially, Rita, who was historically the pursuer in the relationship, wasn't sure if she wanted to remain in the relationship.  As the pursuer, Rita had been the one who tried to get Ted to talk about their relationship and would feel insecure and emotionally abandoned when Ted, as a withdrawer/distancer, tended to avoid these discussions.  This pattern changed after Rita found out about the affair.

After she found out about the affair, Rita withdrew emotionally from the relationship and asked Ted to move out temporarily to give her time to think things over.  As a way to try to salvage the marriage, Ted asked Rita to participate with him in couple therapy, which she agreed to somewhat reluctantly.

During Stage One of EFT couple therapy, the EFT couple therapist helped both Rita and Ted to feel safe in therapy.  After a while, Rita was able to stop criticizing Ted so he could re-engage emotionally in the relationship.  At that point, they both realized that their problem was rooted in a negative dynamic in their relationship.

Rather than blame and criticize each other for their problems, they realized that they each had their own emotional needs that weren't being met or communicated in the relationship.  At that point, they both made a greater commitment to couple therapy to work out their problems.

After Ted and Rita were able to de-escalate their emotions during Stage One with the help of their EFT couple therapist, they were ready to move onto Stage Two, which entails restructuring their bond.

Even though it was hard for each of them at first, their EFT couple therapist helped each of them to express what they each needed from the other.  Their EFT couple therapist also helped them to accept each other and show compassion for one another.

During this stage of therapy, both Ted and Rita expressed how emotionally vulnerable they felt when they expressed their emotional needs.  Rita said she feared that Ted would think of her as being "needy," and Ted still feared that Rita saw him as "a loser," especially after she found out about his sexual affair with his ex.

Their couple therapist was able to help them to trace back these fears to their childhood history so that they could understand the power these fears had over them, and they could begin to work through these issues.

As would be expected, they each took one step forward before backsliding again due to their fears around emotional vulnerability, and their EFT counselor helped them to get back on track whenever they took steps backward.

When they became sexual again, Rita said there were times when she remembered that Ted had an affair and she felt repulsed by him.

During those times, she said she said she had to stop their sexual activity and withdraw from Ted.  She said she feared that, instead of feeling close to her, Ted might be thinking of his ex.  She told him that she needed to know that he felt emotionally connected to her so that she wouldn't think he was thinking of his ex.

Ted expressed how hurtful it was for him whenever Rita stopped their lovemaking because of her thoughts of his infidelity.  Yet, he understood that Rita was having a normal reaction, and he tried to be patient and understanding.  He said he tried to reassure Rita that he was only thinking of her, but he couldn't convince her at certain times.

Their EFT couple therapist helped Rita to express what she needed from Ted when she began having doubts when they were sexual together.  Rita was able to tell Ted that she needed him to look directly at her, talk to her and hold her so she would know that when they made love, he was fully engaged with her and not thinking about his ex.

After a few aborted attempts, Rita and Ted came back to their next session and told their therapist that they were able to be emotionally and sexually engaged with each other so that they could enjoy being sexual together.  Rita said she still thought about Ted's affair occasionally, but she also knew that he loved her and he was committed to their marriage.

After several more sessions, Rita and Ted were able to express their emotional needs more easily to one another.

Once Rita was able to stop criticizing Ted, Ted was able to remain emotionally present rather than engaging in avoidance tactics where he distanced himself emotionally.

They also felt more deeply bonded to one another.  It was the first time that, even though they had a long way to go, they both felt that they were really on the road to mending their relationship.

Getting Help in EFT Couple Therapy
As I mentioned in prior articles, EFT couple therapy is one of most researched models of couple therapy with a high success rate.

Rather than engaging in the same negative patterns that are ruining your relationship, you owe it to yourself and your partner to get help in EFT couple therapy.

Coming to couple therapy sooner rather than later is an important aspect of salvaging a relationship.

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

I work with individual adults and couples.

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.