Communication problems are among the most prevalent reasons couples seek couples therapy in San Diego. Many of the issues we work with in couples counseling revolve around partners’ emotional reactions during disagreements and arguments.
Working with a couples therapist can help you find common ground, learn to tune in to each other’s feelings, and start rekindling your connection. Professionals at Couple Connection in San Diego specializing in EFT can provide you with critical skills to accomplish this.
What is EFT?
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is a short-term couples psychotherapy that typically lasts eight to twenty sessions and focuses on emotions, problematic communication patterns, and attachment styles in adult relationships.
- EFT is based on Bowlby’s attachment theory. Dr. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg created EFT in the 1980s based on decades of study.
- EFT’s usefulness has been proven scientifically. According to research, 90% of couples that undergo EFT for couples recover considerably, and 70–75 percent of couples quit suffering.
- In EFT couples therapy, the therapist and clients look for patterns in the relationship and develop ways to strengthen the bond and instill trust between partners.
How Can EFT Help You Build Your Dream Relationship?
EFT teaches us how to understand and restructure our emotional experiences by helping us understand that we are social beings that crave to be seen, heard, and understood.
For example, focusing solely on your partner’s behaviors or reactions will prevent you from fully understanding and connecting with them. An EFT-focused couples therapy session in San Diego can help you learn to feel one another’s emotions and demonstrate empathy, strengthening your relationship.
EFT-focused couples therapy may also help couples:
- Deal with distressing feelings such as fear or rage.
- Navigate infidelity and loss of trust.
- Work through past trauma and understand how it relates to present relationship issues.
- Cope with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Build resilience.
Four Steps to Building Your Dream Relationship
When we experience overwhelming emotions, our ability to think and act rationally becomes impaired. That is why taking a moment to slow down and collect oneself during conflicts is crucial. Moreover, taking the time to slow down can benefit both partners, as it allows them to pause and gain a better understanding of their interaction pattern.
Once you slow down, you will be able to understand your negative patterns (called “the cycle” in EFT), connect before you start correcting your patterns, and learn to appreciate each other.
Step One: Slow Down
Take a break during a fight if you feel too upset to talk. Your couples therapist can help you develop some valuable strategies to slow down, such as the following:
- Deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing helps us calm down and gather our thoughts when stressed, allowing us to think more clearly. You divert your attention away from troubling thoughts by concentrating on your breathing. In addition, deep breathing exercises will enable you to examine your thoughts as they arise without self-blame or judgment.
Writing out your thoughts on paper might help you overcome feeling emotionally flooded. Journaling can help you identify, organize, and address your thoughts, which can be therapeutic
Start counting up to 50 or 100 or naming things around you that you can see, touch, smell, or taste. Grounding yourself can help you feel better and reclaim control of your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Step Two: Identify Your Cycle
A negative cycle is a pattern of negative beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors detrimental to your relationship. According to Dr. Sue Johnson, detecting your negative cycle includes looking at the various layers behind your problems.
Conflicts generally follow a cycle:
- You and your spouse quarrel for a time.
- Everything returns to normal.
- The problem reappears, unresolved.
When you get caught up in a negative cycle, you do things that worsen the process, such as pulling away from your partner, criticizing, saying mean something, or becoming defensive.
In other words, a complete parallel dynamic is generally present during conflicts. Knowing this can help you understand the nature of your cycle and start feeling connected and comfortable with one another.
Step Three: Connect Before Correct
When distressed, we don’t look for guidance or logical explanations; we need to feel cared for, protected, and safe.
In couples therapy, learning how to connect with your spouse is crucial since this is the first step to repairing the connection, building your dream relationship, and maintaining that change. If you don’t connect first, you and your spouse will become aggressive or defensive and unable to open up to each other.
Experiential EFT exercises can teach you to be sensitive to each other’s needs and emotions, open up and be vulnerable with your spouse, and connect deeply after understanding the feelings and wounds underpinning certain behaviors.
Step Four: Appreciate Each Other
Regularly showing appreciation to one another is a fantastic way to improve communication and feel connected, seen, heard, and loved.
Dr. John Gottman from the Gottman Institute uses the metaphor of “the four horsemen of the apocalypse” to talk about patterns of communication that usually lead to breakdowns in communication. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are all hurtful communication styles.
According to Dr. Gottman’s research, the most significant indicator of whether a couple will divorce is whether they treat each other with contempt – by being cynical, sarcastic, and generally mean.
One of the most potent antidotes to contempt is demonstrating appreciation and respect for one another.
Begin Building Your Dream Relationship Today
Couples therapy in San Diego can provide a secure environment for you to begin practicing your appreciation exercise by regularly showing gratitude to each other.
Working with a skilled professional at Couple Connection in San Diego can help lay the groundwork for healthy, productive communication and start building your dream relationship.