Differentiation

Building Effective Collaboration with a Highly Anxious Client

couples in therapy sessionA common scenario that many of us see in our practices is the over-functioning wife with the anxious-avoidant husband. He is a highly anxious procrastinator  and is often not accountable for what he says he will do.… Read more...

Developmental Change, Focus on the Initiator, Part 3

Therapist Errors: Not Recognizing Protective Passivity This blog post continues to focus on the initiator. Last month we looked at  recognizing a “non-Initiation.”  Remember we are discussing couples who have done very little active differentiation. An important subtle issue that occurs in many initiations is passivity. Passivity happens as a self-protection when partners fear the vulnerability of self-exposure. They may have difficulty articulating what they desire or they may not even know.… Read more...

Kenya – A Journey In Negotiation

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Conflict Avoidance: Shifting Relationship Impasses, Part 3

Helping partners develop clearer separation between self and other This is the third part of a series in which I have shared sections of a session on shifting relationship impasses in a couple with conflict avoidance and encouraged comments and questions from readers. Thank you to those of you who have participated in our dialog on the blog. In this portion of the session, because the wife has taken more of a risk, I decide to stay with helping her express more while simultaneously seeing if her husband can get any separation from her.  … Read more...

Reflections on Attachment and Differentiation

At this year's Couples Conference in Boston, I participated in a panel discussion with Sue Johnson, one of the founders of Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT, on the role of attachment and differentiation-based interventions in couples therapy. This month I wanted to share with you some of my remarks and reflections on the outcome of that discussion. Opening: I wanted to do this panel with Sue because she has spent much of her career focusing on facilitating secure attachment in couples' relationships, and I have spent years teaching and describing differentiation. I believe that in humans a dialectic tension exists between the desire for connection/closeness and the push towards individual development and self fulfillment.… Read more...

Attachment and Differentiation in Directing Change

The beginning of each year is a time when I reflect on my own goals for the year and also stop and think about whether I have a clear direction with each of my clients. I frequently check in with each partner to see that we have agreement about their focus. Developing a strong direction with a high probability of success in couples therapy often involves supporting the couple's bond and simultaneously stressing the importance of self-directed differentiated change — change that is not connected to what the partner does. What does this actually look like? In early sessions, it is important to define what positive outcome each partner is trying to create.… Read more...

More on The Great Attachment Debate

We continue to review The Great Attachment Debate, a series of interviews published in Psychology Networker.  I wrote about the first three experts in last month’s blog post. This time I will summarize the contributions of Dr. David Schnarch, Sue Johnson, and Dr. Alan Schore and invite readers to share their views. The next interview was with Dr. David Schnarch, who strongly attacked attachment-based therapy. He reported having so much difficulty not with the theory of Attachment, but more how it has been used to create therapeutic interventions. He actively challenged the view that marital problems result from problems with attachment and that what partners need is secure attachment.… Read more...

Lorie Teagno’s response to “The Great Attachment Debate”

I really enjoyed and felt enlivened by David Schnarch's presentation and felt like a professional “prayer” was answered as I have struggled in the past decade with the direction couples therapy was going with the dominance of attachment, neurobiology and EFT focus as THE ANSWER, the ONE TRUE path to helping clients become whole, satisfied and intimate beings and partners. While the attachment research has been an asset to clinicians, where I find myself confused and perplexed is when the research on attachment is applied to clinical interpretations of what a resilient, loving adult relationship is and should be.… Read more...

Working to Build Attachment while Facilitating Differentiation

Last month I invited readers to list Attachment and Differentiation-based interventions in two different lists on the blog. A special thanks to those of you who shared your ideas. Developing a strong direction with a high probability of success in couples therapy often involves supporting the couple's bond and simultaneously stressing differentiation. What does this actually look like as you start out with a couple? In early sessions, it is important to define what positive outcome each partner is trying to create. Ask the partners, “What kind of relationship do you want to be in?”  Often couples come to therapy because they are stimulating negative, traumatic reactions in each other and can't extract themselves from these cycles without help from a third party.… Read more...

Integrating The Best of Attachment and Differentiation Theories

Another year has arrived. I will continue to write blogs and give you thoughts and transcripts. One of my aims for this year is to encourage more involvement on this blog from you, my readers. My online training groups have been using their blogs in stimulating discussions. I’d like you to jump in and do the same. For this first blog of 2011, I’ll make this kind of interaction easy. I'm going to ask you to list attachment based and differentiation based interventions that you frequently use with your couples. I focus a lot on integrating the best of these two theories.  Couples therapy is most effective when the therapist knows how to use both attachment and differentiation based interventions and conceptualizations.… Read more...
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