confrontation

Confrontation Transcript: Disrupting Hidden Symbiosis

couples therapy confrontation transcript, disrupting hidden symbiosisTherapists who train with me know to look for symbiosis and understand how symbiosis impedes the tremendous growth potential that exists in any couples relationship. Sometimes symbiosis is obvious because a couple has been stuck there for a very long time. Other times it is more disguised. Below you will read a transcript from a session with a couple deciding whether or not to get married. In this couple, the female partner acts as if she is the more mature grounded partner. She is decisive where her boyfriend is anxious and conflicted. In this session I decided to confront her hidden “stuckness.” She had been dancing around his requests for several weeks.… Read more...

Confrontation Video: Challenging Hypocrisy

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couple in therapy confronting hypocrisyWith certain presenting problems, it’s obvious that some confrontation will be required. For example, the denial associated with drugs, alcohol or gambling addiction will inevitably require confrontation from either you or the spouse. Also, the major lies and deceptions that happen with infidelity are often obvious in calling for confrontation. However, there are some more subtle patterns, like symbiosis and regression, that also take skillful confrontation. Long ago I realized it would be impossible to do successful couples work without confronting the consequences of these behaviors. Without becoming skillful at disrupting symbiosis and recognizing and challenging regression, couples work will just skim the surface.… Read more...

Confrontation Transcript: Indecision After Infidelity

Unhappy couple in therapyMoving along in our series on confrontation, I wanted to share a series of confrontations  made by my husband, Peter Pearson, during a 90-minute session with a couple facing indecision after infidelity. Observe how his confrontations move from softer to more intense. Jeff and Julie came for their first session after being married for 40 years. Jeff was in the midst of an affair and Julie was very depressed. Jeff was severely conflicted. Should he stay married or go with Clara, his new love?  He was also “shopping” for therapists and had already been to several. Jeff was approaching his indecision from a passive, but painful position.… Read more...

Six Types of Confrontation and How the Cycle of Confrontation Unfolds

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couple in therapyConfrontation skills did not come naturally to me. When I was growing up, if I had issues with my sister or my mother, my father sent me to my room  saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” As a therapist, it took concerted effort for me to learn how to be nice and make effective confrontations at the same time. I had to learn how to make incisive confrontations or watch couples repeat the same negative patterns over and over. To be effective, you must be able to hold up a mirror so that partners can see (and recognize non-defensively) what they are doing and how they are getting in their own way.… Read more...

Are You Smarter Than a Fox?

killdeerHave you heard of the Killdeer? No, it’s not a mammal, but an amazing bird from the sandpiper family. The Killdeer do not build much of a nest. They lay their eggs in a nest on rocky ground areas. This makes them especially vulnerable to predators like foxes. So, the very smart killdeer developed special behavioral adaptations to protect the nest. What could this have to do with skillful confrontation in couples therapy?… Read more...

Confrontation Options: Financial Irresponsibility

couple with therapist who confronts financial irresponsibility“Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if done by nice people like ourselves.” ~Author Unknown. At the risk of starting this blog sounding sexist, there are two common areas of regression I’ve seen in men and women over many years working with couples. Women often dig in and want to be taken care of financially. Men often regress and want to be taken care of at home. They may resist participating in household chores or child rearing. Perhaps you’ve worked with a couple for a while and the husband says,  “She never sticks to our budget and she won’t participate in realistic financial decisions.” His wife typically responds by saying,  “No matter what I do, it’s never enough.… Read more...

The Self-Absorbed Partner

charts and graphs of salesA very big thanks to you if you filled out my survey on the Self-Absorbed Partner. I must have hit a nerve because nearly 200 readers answered the questions.… Read more...

A Disarming Confrontation in Couples Therapy

Choice Traffic SignA very distressed, acrimonious couple comes to see you for couples therapy. They’ve done significant damage to each other over the years. It seems they will fight about anything and you feel like you are getting nowhere. All your best efforts are thwarted. You say to them, “I’m sorry to give you some bad news. You are faced with two ugly choices. This is probably not what you want to hear. Yet, it is your current reality.”… Read more...

Hypocrisy, Immorality, Shame and Change

cofronting hypocrisy“It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” ― Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit Today I’d like to share a fascinating piece on hypocrisy from the University of Colorado’s Conflict Research Consortium.… Read more...

Confrontation: Is it Art or Science?

What do you think about when you think about confrontation in couples therapy? Is it something you do a lot? Or rarely?  Does thinking of a specific confrontation make you scared or anxious? Or, perhaps creating a well-crafted confrontation leaves you feeling enthusiastic and excited?… Read more...
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