This is an example of Couples Integrative Counseling TM; a combination of the very best and newest information available for couples counseling, which allows the therapist to switch gears quickly in order to best serve the clients’ needs.
Mario and Laura (not their real names) came into my office anxiously — most couples do. When I obtained their history, several patterns emerged.
Developmentally, they were stuck in differing stages. Laura felt emotionally abandoned while Mario craved the freedom to get back to his life as it was before they met. She was stuck in the Symbiotic stage of development wanting the exclusive closeness couples share when they first fall in love. He was out catching up with his friends and his hobbies, and in the Practicing stage of development. They had both skipped a step in development call Differentiating. Laura needed to take a step forward to noticing differences between she and Mario and discussing them; and Mario needed to step back and plan more time for them to be together; so that they could do the work of individuation and define the relationship itself more clearly. They also needed an effective “fight-style” to express and resolve differences without undue injury.
By employing a Solution Focused approach I was able to help each party discover things they needed to do less of and things they needed to do more of, in order to improve their relationship. Laura discovered that by sharing every little feeling she experienced was hurtful for Mario. He discovered that by constantly declaring his feelings of ambivalence he too was causing harm. They were unwittingly damaging the quality of their attachment to each other.
After they took the Meyers-Brigs Personality Type Indicator they were able to see how their personalities were working for and against their relationship. Both were extroverts, intuitive and perceptive. However, Laura was a “feeler” and Mario was a “thinker.” They developed greater understanding and empathy for each other when they learned how to appreciate their differences.
NLP (Neuro Linquistic Programming) was helpful in several ways. They learned about their Meta-program differences (these are filters created by belief clusters that bias perception). Laura learned why it took Mario so long to say what he needed to say. He was very “procedural”, and needed to tell how he came to think a certain way. She communicated much quicker by listing her criteria – she was “options oriented." Also, they were able to discover that they had very different styles of processing information. She was an “auditory processor” and needed to “hear” more about his feelings for her rather than his thoughts (affirmations). He was a “visual processor” and needed to “see” her positive feelings in action (works of service).
This couple was helped dramatically by what they learned through Couples Integrative Counseling.
Vikki Hoobyar, M.S. is a happily married Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Sequoia Counseling Services in Redwood City. She holds a weekly therapy groups for women and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650.761.1657.