@André Kertész, August 16 1979 Polaroid SX-70
Negative relationship cycles
An insecure relationship often results in negative cycles that cause painful emotions and suffering. The partners' needs are only partially met despite their mutual efforts. Triggers are often misunderstandings or differences, stressful or dramatic life situations in which one partner cannot be as present and available for the other as before, and fears from the past that the partners bring into the relationship. Trust is diminished, each acts to protect themselves instead of opening up to the other. This is when vicious cycles set in, leading to dead ends. Here is an example of a very common pattern: the more one makes demands and reproaches, the more the other withdraws, closes up or runs away; the more one puts pressure, attacks, criticizes or even withdraws, the more the other shields themselves, gets angry, or internally disconnects. These dynamics become entrenched in the relationship and gain incredible force, because the partners have such an enormous impact on each other. They are quick to react, quick to defend themselves, and quick to reinforce barriers by hurting each other. It is very difficult to break these mechanisms of interaction. They develop a life of their own, tending to take over you and your relationship.
A secure relationship
Conflicts are inevitable and inherent to any intimate relationship. Far from living in perfection, absolute serenity or constant harmony, partners united in a secure relationship manage to reconcile quickly. Temporary moments of tension come and go, without leaving deep wounds or giving rise to particularly violent crises, periods of lasting distance or intense feelings of isolation and despair. Recent studies show that the simple act of touching your partner, such as holding hands, can relieve anxiety and pain. We also now know that a secure connection strengthens our immune system, reduces stress and promotes our body's healing processes, and can also lessen the impact of traumatic experiences.
Effective method, short-term therapy
This method is based on the most up-to-date scientific research on attachment and emotions. It is currently one of the only couples therapies whose effectiveness has been tested over several years. The latest studies have shown that 90% of couples experience significant and lasting improvements after 7 to 20 sessions, and that 70 to 75% of them manage to overcome their relationship problems, with low relapse rates. This is currently the best result obtained in the field of couples therapy. The success of this therapeutic approach can be explained by its experiential nature: it allows the creation of new emotional experiences in the present context.
How are couples therapy sessions structured?
First of all, we agree on a first meeting. During this first session, we get to know each other. During the first session, my goal is to begin to understand your relationship as a couple, and to give you an idea of what joint therapy sessions can do for you.
Usually, change begins in the first session, whether by leading to a better understanding of each other, greater clarity, or by strengthening the emotional bond between you.
If you feel we are a good match and you would like to continue working together, we will discuss the next appointment at the end of the session.
The sessions are 90-100 minutes in length. The first session can take up to two hours to get to know each other. This does not affect the standard price of a session.
In most cases, it is helpful to schedule an individual session for each partner after the first couple session. Initially, sessions are scheduled on a weekly basis, if possible. The appointments may become less frequent as the work progresses.
How long does couples therapy last?
The method I use (Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy) is a short-term model of couples therapy.
Several studies using this method have shown that clear progress (90%) was evident after 8 to 20 sessions.
The speed of change depends on many factors: how long has the relationship been under stress? Have there been any extra-marital affairs that have resulted in injury or loss of trust in one of the partners? What experiences have you had in other relationships before or in your past life, and how did you deal with them?
Some couples need only a little "push" to break out of entrenched patterns, and can see their relationship change significantly in a few sessions. Others will need more time. Experience shows that ten sessions is a good indicator: if no progress at all can be seen, there may be no point in continuing. But even when couple therapy ends at this point, both partners have usually benefited from the therapeutic process. They have gained a better understanding of each other, which may allow them to separate with less anger and animosity, if they so choose. In addition, what is gained from couple therapy goes beyond the present relationship and can be applied in future relationships. But more often than not, couples have come a long way after only 10 sessions or less, and their bond is considerably strengthened.
What is the difference between couples therapy and marriage counseling?
Couples therapy, marriage counseling, couple coaching - while the names may differ, the goal is the same: to help a couple in distress improve their relationship. Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT) is an experiential approach that focuses primarily on the present time of the therapeutic process. Of course it is often necessary to go back to the roots of certain emotional wounds that occurred in childhood or in the past in order to understand them, as well as to explore the emotional mechanisms that were created by them. But the therapeutic work in couple therapy uses that information to better focus on the emotions of each partner and the interactions that take place between them during each session. The goal is to restructure these interactions and create new and lasting emotional experiences.
During an EFT session, the therapist observes the dynamics of the couple and then works with the couple to reflect and guide them toward new ways of interacting. Unlike other forms of therapy where the therapist is more passive, EFT therapists take an active role and focus on processing emotions and interactions during the session rather than on activities such as exercises, worksheets and homework.