“Nobody can go back
and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today
and make a new ending.”
So many fine human beings I’d love to introduce you to. Take a browse through this – maybe you’ve already met some of them. I start with the methods I use most frequently at present, but there is an evolution to my work and this list definitely points to that.
Dr. Richard Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy, which is the method I’m increasingly using and constantly impressed by. For a brief overview see About IFS. If you find yourself intrigued – as I did – you can get lost on the web site at The Center for Self Leadership. If you choose to work with me, chances are very good we’ll employ this wonderfully respectful and effective method. I quote briefly from the web site:
The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy offers a clear, non-pathologizing, and empowering method of understanding human problems, as well as an innovative and enriching philosophy of practice that invites both therapist and client to enter into a transformational relationship in which healing can occur.
There are now several inspirational trainers working to bring Dick Schwartz’s work to a wider audience. One of my favorites is Toni Herbine-Blank, who has developed this model more fully for working with our self in relationships. For more on how IFS can be deeply effective in couples work, I recommend this IFS With Couples article.
John Gottman, Ph.D For over 30 years John Gottman has worked out of the University of Washington in Seattle studying couples who come to stay at his custom designed apartment, “The Love Lab”. From his myriad of minute observations and body sensation data collected from the study subjects, he has come to some interesting conclusions. From these he has captured some “myths” about why relationships succeed or fail which you might find interesting. The Myths
- Myth #1 Affairs cause divorces – Gottman reported that 20-25% of people in divorce mediation groups say an affair was a reason the marriage ended, but the reason given by 80% is the deterioration of intimacy in the couple. In fact, Fisher et al (2009) reported in their sample of over 2500 men that relationship problems typically pre-date the infidelity.
- Myth #2 Gender differences cause divorce – If this were so, the divorce rate would be 100% for heterosexual couples, and 0% for gay and lesbian couples. The whole “Men are from Mars: Women are from Venus” stereotype is based on outdated gender norms.
- Myth #3 Communication problems cause marital conflict – Actually, distressed people communicate quite clearly what they feel and mean. You can’t really teach people to never disagree or argue, as all couples disagree and argue at some time. Rather, what is important is what they do about it, how they reach some kind of agreement afterward, and how they handle the emotions stirred by conflict.
- Myth #4 No quid pro quo makes for an unsuccessful marriage – The idea is that doing good things for your partner is contractual on getting good things back; if you do this for me, I’ll do this for you, but if you don’t do this for me, I won’t do this for you. The Gottmans’ research shows this is not the case for unhappy couples (“disasters”), but neither is it true for happy couples (“masters”). A marriage is not a legal contract – it’s a loving relationship!
- Truth #1 Positivity in interactions in happy couples is 20 to 1, in conflicted couples is 5 to 1, and in soon-to-divorce couples is 0.8 to 1 – Watching a couple interact when they are not in conflict is the best way to predict their risk for divorce. Unhappy couples tend to have a filter that screens out positive events and makes even neutral ones seem negative. Happy couples, however, tend to have a filter that screens out negative events and makes even neutral ones seem positive.
- Truth #2 Marriages tend to end at one of two times – Marriages tend to end at 5-7 years due to high conflict, or at 10-12 years due to the loss of intimacy and connection. While certainly marriages can end at other times, The Gottmans argue these are critical or high risk periods for most relationships.
- Truth #3 When it comes to arguments, it’s more your match than your style – The Gottman’s found that the conflict style of the partners (attackers, soothers, avoiders) matters less than the match between the couple. Important then to learn HOW you fight.
- Truth 4 Most problematic issues are not solved, but managed – The Gottmans’ found that masters and disasters in marriage both faced chronic problems. The difference was that masters tended to find a way to deal with them to keep them in check, while disasters tended to constantly fight and feel gridlocked around what to do.
There is so much more to Gottman’s work – I use his insights and interventions in my work all the time.
Dan B. Wile Ph.D who has carefully worked to understand and articulate the idea that every conversation in a marriage counts. Whilst my husband Mark and I discovered over the course of our 30 years together that each fight could either bring us closer, or drive a wedge between us, Dan took this idea further. For him, each conversation does one of three things:. It can turn your partner into ~
- An intimate co-collaborator
- A alienated stranger
- An angry enemy.
Think about it. How often do you just not say something on your mind because it is too difficult, you are too exhausted, it might not come out right, or you believe your partner won’t understand anyway.? Or, just as likely, how often do you come out with an attack on your partner because you feel all pent up and frustrated and it is much easier to attack them than figure out what you are feeling and needing in that moment?
All marriages dance between these three stances all the time. I see my role as helping couples cultivate the perspective and skills that will allow them to become intimate co-collaborators more often than not.
You can read more about Dan’s work – Collaborative Couple Therapy – here.
Sue Johnson, Ph.D Dr. Johnson connected the dots between the loving attachment that mothers have with their infants, and the loving connection enjoyed by today’s married couple who tend to live together, separated from their extended family or tribe. Attachment can be recognized between mother & baby, or spouse and spouse by how they ~
- Monitor and maintain emotional and physical connection with their beloved;
- Reach for and turn toward this person for comfort;
- Obviously miss this person when they are absent;
- Become braver and stronger in the outside world simply because they are loved by the other.
Dr. Johnson understands marital conflict in terns of attachment wounds. This can be a very helpful frame for explaining the utter fear we can feel when this loving connection is threatened. I also use much of Dr. Johnsons’ work in my therapy practice.
Haim Guinott who wrote “Between Parent and Child,” published in 1965. It transformed my approach to mothering and I am eternally grateful to him. http://www.betweenparentandchild.com/
Marshall B. Rosenberg for his work developing Non Violent Communication – A language of compassion, which teaches us to pay attention to our feelings and to be responsible for getting our needs met in healthy ways. http://nvc.org.nz/
Julia Cameron, whose classic The Artist’s Way provided a just-right 12 Step program to help me connect the dots between where I was (but did not want to stay) and where I wanted to be (but wasn’t sure how to get there). http://www.artistsway.com/
Benjamin Zander who, with his wife Rosamund, wrote The Art of Possibility. A fabulously exciting man of passion. Please do watch him on another of my other favorite resources – TEDhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9LCwI5iErE
Byron Katie, a once angry, drinking and depressed housewife who woke up on the floor of a half-way house one morning in 1986 a changed woman. Like Eckhart Tolle, she had totally released her judgmental thoughts. Her work (and I quote from her web site) “is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the fear, violence, depression, frustration, and suffering in the world.” http://www.thework.com/index.php
For a list of non-profit counseling centers in Boise, click here:
The Consumer Affairs organization has taken a stab at summarizing reviews of the main on-line dating sites currently in play. If this is something you’re considering – this might prove helpful.
A company called Custody X Change has come up with some very helpful software for parents managing the tough logistics of co-parenting after divorce. Check it out here.