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New York London

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

Based upon the concepts of Imago Relationship Therapy© and the couples workshops developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of the best-selling works Getting the Love You Want and Keeping the Love You Find.

Routledge Taylor & Francis Group 270 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016 © 2007 by Wade Luquet Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-415-95380-4 (Softcover) International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-415-95380-1 (Softcover)

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No part of this book may be reprinted, reproduced, transmitted, or utilized in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publishers. Trademark Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Luquet, Wade. Short-term couples therapy : the Imago model in action / Wade Luquet.--2nd. ed. p. ; cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-415-95380-4 (pb : alk. paper) 1. Marital psychotherapy. 2. Brief psychotherapy. 3. Communication in marriage. I. Title. [DNLM: 1. Marital Therapy--methods. 2. Couples Therapy--methods. 3. Interpersonal Relations. 4. Psychotherapy, Bried--methods. WM 430.5.M3 L966s 2007] RC488.5.L826 2007 616.89’1562--dc22 Visit the Taylor & Francis Web site at and the Routledge Web site at 2006009559

To Marianne, my friend for life. To Cory, Alex, and Aubree, may you always look at the world with awe.


Couples Dialogue.CONTENTS List of Homework/Handout Sheets for the Couple Foreword to the Second Edition Preface to the Second Edition Foreword to the First Edition Preface to the First Edition How to Use his Book 1 xxv 1 xiii xv xvii xxi xi Making Couples herapy Work: Start With the Basic Ingredients First. a Temperature Check 2 A Base of Respect and Trust 3 Basic Couples Skills 4 he Research of John Gottman 4 Emotional Intimacy as a Key to Attachment 5 Putting All the Ingredients Together 12 Introduction to Imago Relationship heory and herapy 15 Cupid and Psyche 16 Romantic Love 17 he Imago and the Brain 18 he Power Struggle 20 Commitment. and the Stretching Principle Reimaging Your Partner 32 he Container Process 33 Cupid and Psyche Revisited 34 Couples Dialogue: he Essential Skill Couples Dialogue 38 Case Study: Mike and Linda 41 he Gremlins Under the Behavior 43 What Does Couples Dialogue Do? 45 37 2 28 3 vii . Safety.

the Brain. and Mate Selection Starting the Session 80 About the Lecture 80 About the Guided Imagery 81 Dave and Diana: Session Two 89 Session Two 92 Session hree: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners Starting he Session 96 Filling Out the “My Imago” Form 96 Using the Imago Workup 97 About the Lecture 97 Parent–Child Dialogue 99 he Holding Position 101 Dave and Diana: Session hree 102 Session hree 107 Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship Starting the Session 112 About the Lecture 112 Caring Behaviors Exercise 114 Little Surprises Exercise 115 Belly Laughs Exercise 116 Mutual Relationship Vision Homework 117 Dave and Diana: Session Four 118 Session Four 122 Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations Starting the Session 126 About the Lecture 126 Behavior Change Request Process 129 Dave and Diana: Session Five 133 Session Five 139 Session Six: Resolving Rage An Option 144 Starting the Session 145 About the Lecture 146 he Container Process 147 143 125 111 95 55 5 79 6 7 8 9 . and Couples Dialogue Connection: An Important Goal of the First Session 56 About the Lecture 59 Couples Dialogue 63 Dave and Diana: A Case Study 68 Dave and Diana: Session One 70 Session One 75 Session Two: Development. Childhood Experiences.viii • Contents 4 Session One: he Cosmic Journey.

Contents • ix Follow-Up Plan 151 Dave and Diana: Session Six Outcome Measures 155 Ten Years Later: A Follow-Up Session Six 158 10 11 After the herapy 161 Follow-Up Plan 162 Being Creative With the Basic Format and Working With Special Populations 167 An Eight-session Format 168 A 10-Session Format 169 A 12-Session Format 170 Additional Exercises 171 Special Treatment Populations 174 What If the herapy Does Not Work? 12 Case Studies 183 Staging in Couples herapy 183 “Just Fix It!” 195 Early Wounded Couples 198 he Rigid-Difuse Couple 201 Conclusion 208 Appendix I: Appendix II: Resources 209 213 151 156 177 he Eicacy of Short-Term Imago herapy 219 Appendix III: Brief Report References 229 231 233 Acknowledgments from the First Edition Homework and Handout Sheets for Couples .


LIST OF HOMEWORK/ HANDOUT SHEETS FOR THE COUPLE SESSION ONE he hree Parts of the Brain Couples Dialogue Feelings List Homework Instructions for Session One SESSION TWO Couples Developmental Scale Instructions to the Couple for Finding Your Imago and Childhood Frustrations/Positive Memories of Childhood Sheets Finding Your Imago Childhood Frustrations/Positive Memories of Childhood Homework Instructions for Session Two SESSION THREE My Imago Parent–Child Dialogue Homework Instructions for Session hree xi .

xii • List of Homework/Handout Sheets for the Couple SESSION FOUR Caring Behaviors List Mutual Relationship Vision: My Dream Relationship Worksheet Mutual Relationship Vision: John and Jane Doe’s Dream Relationship Mutual Relationship Vision: Our Dream Relationship Worksheet Homework Instructions for Session Four SESSION FIVE Socialization and Mate Selection Behavior Change Request Forms: Frustration Ladder Sample: Restructuring Negative Behaviors Restructuring Negative Behaviors Sample: Restructuring Frustrations Restructuring Frustrations Homework Instructions for Session Five SESSION SIX he Container Process he Container Record Using the Container Homework Instructions for Session Six FOLLOW-UP PLAN .

thoughts. his students emphasized the social sources of the self and the relational variables of healing. mechanical system with an internal structure—id. invented by Sigmund Freud. In the meantime. While the inluence of psychodynamic and relational therapies continued to focus on unraveling the complexities of the past and the unconscious. and Stephen Mitchell. as preceding subjectivity and giving birth to the individual. called the “paradigm of the individual. and relational psychoanalysis by Robert Stolorow et. a relational model of the origins of the self and the indispensable variables of the relational context emerged in the interpersonal theory of Harry Stack Sullivan. much marital therapy focused on communication skills.” Early in his career. ego. D. the object relations theories of W. this shift heralded a Copernican change in psychotherapy. and behavior. Fairbairn and D. self-psychology by Heinz Kohut. R. At the same time. His model of the psyche was also a closed. which recommended 20–40 sessions. the ields of couples therapy and family therapy. Its appearance in a second edition after 10 years indicates its value and durability and the resilience of the Imago short-term approach to couples therapy. superego—that interacted with its context for its evolution and healing. Called the relational paradigm. giving birth to a new model of long-term therapy and to a variety of models of short-term psychotherapy. al. and problem xiii . which limited therapeutic access for clients to less than 10 sessions in contrast to the requirement of most short-term dynamic and relational models. Winnicott. conlict resolution. the attachment theory of John Bowlby. behavior modiication. and self-suiciency—a nonrelational construct. In the middle of the 20th century. he foundational reality was the autonomous individual and isolated mind. However. the method of therapy he invented was complex and long term and has been available mainly to persons with the time and resources to spend many days a week over several years on the couch exploring their subjectivity. W. All these theories posited relationship as foundational. places all of us in the ield of psychotherapy in the debt of this genius. He stands as a monument to uncovering the physics of the psyche. under the inluence of the emerging relational insights. he discipline of psychotherapy. especially the unconscious sources of emotion. began to focus on interpersonal variables of healing and on more eicient models of therapeutic change. independence. but its cure was autonomy.FOREWORD TO THE SECOND EDITION I celebrate the reissue of Short-Term Couples herapy: he Imago Model in Action. cultural shifts in the mental health ield led to the development of managed care.

In contrast to the skill-based marital therapies. Imago Relationship herapy. New Jersey . and the prognosis of this second edition seems obviously positive. identify the replication of the childhood rupture in their relational rupture. because it is a structured process with an active facilitator. Ph.xiv • Foreword to the Second Edition solving. Because this book has survived a decade of use by hundreds of therapists. Harville Hendrix. paralleled the emergence of relational therapy but with an exclusive emphasis on marriage and other forms of couplehood. Focusing on couples internalizing and practicing the Imago Dialogue. he has devised an eicient model that helps couples connect the dynamics of their relationship with their childhood. it lends itself to an eicient short-term couples therapy. he success rate was around 30%—a dismal showing for the profession. Imago included identifying the impact of childhood on marital choice and marital dynamics and the importance of acquiring relational skills. its value is intrinsic and apparent. Although the Imago process can take from a few months to a few years. his perception of the potential of Imago as a short-term couples therapy that could respond to the limiting parameters of managed care was the brainchild of Wade Luquet. Imago Dialogue became a powerful therapeutic intervention to help couples restore connection in their relationship and thereby repairing the rupture of connection in childhood. Given the Imago theses that all pathology is relational and that the source of all relational dificulty is a connectional rupture in childhood that is recreated in the adult intimate partnership. he central relational skill was the Imago Couples Dialogue. and the role of the therapist was radically altered from “expert” to “facilitator” of the dialogue process.D. birthed in the late 1970s. and the client as a consumer of that expertise. Tenaly. and mutually contribute to the healing of each other by restoring connection. he therapist continued his or her role as expert.

it has not gone away. he work tends to move faster. we have adjusted. and the client’s own emotional supports. as with other models. Its skills aford couples a clear means to connect. along with the appropriate communication and problem-solving skills. and. according to outcome studies described in this volume. it is better to work things out than to split up the relationship. Couples can learn the skills in 6 to 10 sessions and are able to ind hope and relieve symptoms. contributing 30% of the change. he biggest factor (which has little to do with the therapist or the model) is extratherapeutic resources. the mental health ield was in a state of change as a new kid on the block. Lambert estimates that 40% of any change is due to these support elements. including family support. herapists who create a supportive environment and connect with their clients have a higher probability of success than do those whose clients xv . is the relationship between the client and the therapist. And. managed care had made its way into therapy oices and shortened the number of sessions therapists were allowed to conduct with clients under their respective plans. the environment. therapists need to be aware that change in couples involves more than the model used to treat them. he ield shifted from long-term psychodynamic therapies to cognitive-based. And although it is true that the ield has changed. solution-focused modalities. and to heal from vulnerabilities developed in childhood. has little room for detailed histories. Imago Relationship herapy (IRT) ofers couples an easily understandable and adaptable philosophy of relationships. Its philosophy gives couples a reason for their love and their frustrations. and is geared toward solving a problem rather than changing a person’s life philosophy. and why. Research by Lambert (1992) shows that there are four important elements that contribute to change in psychotherapy. those therapists who are reimbursed by insurance have had to adjust to these shorter-term models. And yet. sometimes it is important to accomplish both. We panicked and made dire predictions of the end of the mental health ield as we knew it. Part of that adjustment can be attributed to the creative short-term therapies that emerged as a result of shortened time frames and the need to quantify results through outcome studies. Ten years ago. for the most part. While longer-term therapies are still available from what have been called boutique practices. to understand and respond to the frustrations. he second factor. whose clients mostly pay out of pocket. in most cases. we have survived.PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION It has been 10 years since the publication of the irst edition of Short-Term Couples herapy: he Imago Model in Action.

a good model provides a road map and lends the therapist conidence in the work.D. as always. Or you might want to keep this book handy so that you can choose a session or skill to be used with a client couple. Lansdale. he third factor. It is suggested that the irst-time user utilize the six sessions as written with a few couple clients as a way to learn what IRT is and how to conduct sessions as an IRT therapist. and utilizes. thanks to my wife. he city of my birth is devastated. During the writing of this second edition. hen. Finally. is the hope and/or expectancy efect. and immediately useful. his conidence. Dana Bliss. If couple therapists are able to provide couples with the skills and knowledge that will keep families together happily. logical. If clients believe that a therapist can be helpful and feel hopeful about the situation when they leave. Although most are resilient enough to recover. and sometimes it should happen. Others use only the skills and incorporate them with other skills they have learned from other models. he families. smart. my friends. as a therapist. I believe deeply in the stabilizing importance of marriage and long-term couple relationships. you can still hear its jazz beat. he city will come back because its people are strong and motivated. but it will take a lot of time and support from all of us. Your love and laughter make life sweet. and if you lick your lips. they tend to do better than those who leave with no hope or expectation. My parents lost their home and have relocated to a townhouse just outside the city. respectful. Cory. which contributes 15% to the change. my hometown of New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. And thanks to the folks at Routledge—George Zimmar. ind the model of interest. and my three great kids.xvi • Preface to the Second Edition are not able to connect with them. Divorce happens. his book provides the reader with both the skills and the theory necessary for any of these combinations. Suzi Tucker. this creates the perfect storm of therapy that allows signiicant change to take place. Still others are trained in other experiential skill models and use the philosophy of Imago as their theoretical base. And. then we have done society a great service. In any case. his second edition is dedicated to my family. Marianne. ofers clients hope that the therapy will work and allows them to connect to the therapist. you can still taste its spice. accessible. for her help with this second edition. model. you can ind out more about further training by contacting the International Institute for Imago Relationship herapy at the address listed in Appendix I. IRT is characterized by a host of admirable traits: practical. and the people of New Orleans. sufer emotionally in these situations. I do know what it means to miss New Orleans. Wade Luquet. clients’ strengths and resources along with the model and their relationship. Some therapists have chosen to use IRT as their sole. it is still a diicult time for all family members to endure. if you. It is always a pleasure to work with you. I hope that you ind this book and the skills it presents useful for your work with couples. the model that a person uses contributes just 15% to the therapeutic change (Lambert. And if the therapist becomes aware of. Ph. I want to thank my editor. And while 15% may not seem signiicant. 1992). and Aubree. or primary. in turn. Alex. but if you listen. and especially the children. As one of the many models of couples therapy available. But there are too many relationships that end without enough of an attempt to survive because the couple did not learn the purpose of their relationship or the skills to guide them through the inevitable couple conlicts. and Stephanie Pekarsky—for their support on this project. hanks also to Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt for their generosity in allowing their material to be included here. Pennsylvania .

he structure for short-term therapy is similar to that of long-term therapy. Outcome studies of long-term therapy tend to verify its efectiveness. Essentially. its structure. emotional. the short-term therapist actively xvii . he goal of this structure is to allow the patient to regress into his childhood memories and achieve such a powerful emotional insight into his early cognitions. irrational cognitions (such as rigid and erroneous beliefs). and comparative efectiveness. the symptoms may be rooted in childhood or may be consequences of stresses in the patient’s current life situation. he role of the therapist as expert is generally passive. a therapy dyad in which the therapist is an expert or treatment of the patient’s symptom in a group context. all of which. afects. duration. Some contemporary long-term therapists may be more active and employ speciic techniques such as breathing procedures or body exercises to evoke buried emotions or provoke insights. he duration of this process is usually deemed to be three to ive years to achieve permanent results. goals. Advocates of short-term therapy are more “result” than healing oriented. hey tend to deine therapy as treatment of speciic dysfunctional emotional reactions (such as phobias or depression). for the long-term therapist. experiences. listening that is interrupted only to provide timely and catalytic interpretations intended to provoke emotional sights. that is. Successful outcome includes characterological reorganization and restoration to his or her presumably normal state of emotional and behavioral freedom. and characterological disorders. but the etiology of the symptom is unimportant or secondary to its function for the patient in his current life. developmental and characterological disorders that have their roots in childhood and are activated by precipitating life situations or events. and nonjudgmental therapist–patient relationship. would be considered symptoms of deeper historical. sometimes empathic. Long-term therapy advocates deine therapy as a healing process that consists of the treatment of emotional.FOREWORD TO THE FIRST EDITION For decades proponents of long-term therapy and short-term therapy have been engaged in a debate about the deinition of therapy. emotionally complicated. although this evaluation is sometimes mitigated by the thesis that life itself changes over time as a result of sustained relection. or inappropriate behaviors (such as addictions or kleptomania). childhood is relived in a benign context which facilitates repair. and defensive behaviors that his repressions are undone. usually a therapeutic dyad or a group context. For the short-term therapist. he therapeutic structure for treating these disorders generally includes an intense. In contrast to the long-term therapist who tends to be passive except for the ofering of catalytic interpretations or special exercises.

information. both symptomatic and characterological. that in most cases have been generous. the symptom usually returns. the debate about the efectiveness of these methods is moot.and short-term therapy models. but not necessarily a long time in formal therapy sessions. behavioral prescriptions. herapy is a healing process that requires a long time. In addition. the managed care mental health insurance provider has made the debate practically moot by prescribed and generally non-negotiable short-term sessions and inancial limits. necessity. confrontations. from an otherwise intact system and its replacement by a functional feeling. For me. But. Outcome studies usually give short therapy high grades in the short haul but indicate that without long-term follow-up. and group therapies of all sorts. are in relationship. and the goal is a speciic result. Currently. all things. and they are what they are because of their relationship to each other. While the traditional insurance provider has inluenced the frequency and duration of therapy by policy limits. ranging from one session to about a year. he time frame for such treatment is usually short.xviii • Foreword to the First Edition intervenes in the patient’s symptoms with interpretations. In other words. we need to envision a mental health delivery system that is responsive to the contemporary situation created by managed care and capable of reconciling the issues between long. but they are halfway points on the journey to a new paradigm because they tend to use the dynamics of the individual as the model for the dyad. but because of the limited value of the systems themselves. Rather than healing the whole person. he method is both therapeutic and educational. Such a shift has been in the making for decades with the appearance of conjoint therapy for couples. there is no such thing as short-term therapy. What is needed is a new theoretical orientation at the level of a paradigm shift from the individual as the locus of being and individual pathology as the human problem to an ontology of relationality as constitutive of being and its rupture as the source of the human condition. family systems theory. and the winner. To stay within these two modalities is to be left with an either/or situation. not because of the current challenge of managed care. As I see it. then providers of mental health care are challenged to develop a therapy modality and delivery system for short term requirements that combines the best features of the long and short-term therapies. he needed new theoretical orientation must understand relationality or inherent connectedness as the structure of being and preserve the individual as points of connection. and efectiveness of short-term versus long-term therapy is being profoundly impacted by a non-therapeutic other. thus collapsing somewhat the distinction of long. hese innovations registered our awareness of the restriction of the individual paradigm and the need for a more inclusive vision of the human situation. as pathologies of the individual that need treatment whether viewed as cure or healing. by therapeutic and educational means.and short-term therapies. and the inluence of the latter on the former. such a system cannot be created out of traditional views of the human condition and its restitution because of a theoretical defect in the assumptions of both long-term and short-term therapy systems. and verbal and emotional support. Most mental health analysts see this as the almost certain future for mental health care. family. including persons. some of these therapies focused on the individual in context (conjoint therapy and group psychotherapy) while others lost the individual in the context (family systems therapies and group therapy). the short-term therapist’s aim is the excision of the symptom. thus restoring the patient to normal functioning by removing the symptomatic impediment. and their relationship . thought. If this is the case. will be the short-term model with its questionable long-term results. From my perspective. or behavior. the debate about the desirability. Such a theory will see the reciprocal efect of context on individual psychodynamics and intrapsychic functioning. and group. the managed care mental health provider. given the current climate in the mental health market. Both are based on an outdated medical model which sees mental health problems.

is to facilitate a therapeutic process that empowers the partners in the relationship to heal each other and grow toward wholeness. social. and to the cosmos—the experience of oneness which was lost in childhood. to one’s physical and social context. he basic thesis of Imago Relationship herapy is that each person is a creation and function of relationship and in turn is a creator of the relationship in which he or she functions. the therapist helps partners in a committed partnership make contact with each other and eventually achieve empathic connection through a process called dialogue. Relationship is seen as the essence of being at the personal and cosmic level.Foreword to the First Edition • xix to each other is a function of who they are individually. his results in separation from self-parts and alienation from others which create the problematic character of the social context in which we live—lawed mental health. Romantic love functions as a selection process which unconsciously creates a relationship with a person similar to one’s original caretaker with whom they anticipate the healing of their emotional wounds and the recovery of their wholeness. Childhood issues and the transference are catalyzed by the relationship. here is no distinction between characterological issues and symptoms. wounding childhood situation. resumption of developmental growth. he human problem results from a rupture of this essential connection. the focus is the same—his or her functioning in relationship. Marriage. the goal of therapy is to help couples co-create a conscious marriage. It is at this point that most couples visit a therapist. and this connection leads to healing of emotional wounds. on which this book is based. and spiritual evolution. he role of the Imago herapist. If the work is with an individual not in relationship. is a contemporary means by which persons unconsciously attempt to restore the lost connection. because the similarity of the selected partner to the original parents results in the recreation of the original. Since the dialogical process can be learned quickly. Its meta-theoretical assumptions were inspired by quantum physics and religious mysticism which evolved inally into a view of the human situation as essentially relational. He is whole and experiences a oneness with everything. validation. for the focus is not upon the intrapsychic functioning of the individuals but upon their relationship. In Imago Relationship herapy. he functions as a coach rather than as expert or source of healing. To help them become therapists for each other. he conscious and consistent use of the three phases of dialogue—mirroring. its original theses relected the individual model operating in the context of conjoint therapy. In Imago Relationship therapy the issues of long-term versus short-term therapy do not arise. and cosmic context. Imago Relationship herapy. however. he ultimate outcome of a dialogical relationship is the creation of a conscious relationship within which both partners experience the restoration of the original condition of connection to all parts of oneself. Essentially. he fundamental human yearning is to restore this original connection. Later it was modiied by systems theory and group therapies. is an example of such a paradigm. Couples therapy became the door through which a vision of cosmos emerged. the need for the therapist becomes optional after a few sessions and can be maintained for as long as the couple chooses. and social ills. he challenge and inspiration which led to its development were to create a couples therapy that was efective in helping partners understand and maintain their relationship. Relecting the course of my education. a rupture caused by unconscious parenting which does not support the maintenance of original connection. Each person begins life essentially connected to all aspects of himself and to his physical. he attempt at reconnection inevitably fails. resulting in the power struggle. interpersonal tension. and contained and resolved in the relationship. in contrast to that of both traditional long-term and short-term therapists who function as experts and the source of healing. and empathy— ultimately restores connection between partners. having evolved historically since the eighteenth century from a utilitarian social structure to a personal relationship serving personal needs. he .

New Mexico January 1996 . illustrations. the requirements of a managed care program to produce results as well as the desire by some persons for a longer term relationship can be met. any therapist can efectively utilize this model in any therapeutic context that presents itself.D. What Wade Luquet has done in this book is provide a condensed version of Imago Relationship herapy that can serve as a framework for relational healing for therapists and clients who are presented with short-term situations. and guidelines.xx • Foreword to the First Edition process of complete healing may take years. he model he has developed is creatively responsive to the issues of the short-term requirements of managed care. examples. He is to be congratulated for his courageous and brilliant work. Abiquiu. With his added insights. Consequently. Harville Hendrix. Ph. but the internalization of the process can be achieved in a few weeks.

It has been designed to help you not only to teach couples about relationships. and it must teach skills. but also to give them the tools and the encouragement they need to continue the relationship and grow. hey rarely seemed willing to negotiate or compromise. and sometimes couples would leave far angrier than when they had irst come in.PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION If you think relationship problems can be “ixed” through negotiation or compromise. if only xxi . this book is a support system and a solution for those therapists who are presented with short-term situations. this book may surprise you. and governmental health policies are changing the face of psychotherapy. Based on the premise that relationships are vehicles for growth. companies are placing limits on both the number of sessions and the amounts they pay for these services. Or if you are one who contends that there really is a short-term cure for the frustrations experienced in every relationship. in those instances when they did. Sessions never seemed to go anywhere. therapists in private practice are being asked to do more in a shorter period of time. If short-term couples therapy provided by these professionals is to be successful. managed competition. In hindsight. “Why don’t they just have fun?” or “Why do they keep arguing about the same things all the time? Why don’t they just let it go?” he truth is that I was being a little self-righteous. I would think. It also needs to be organized in such a way that the information provided for the counselor is clearly presented. Today’s managed care. it needs to be speciic and powerful. this book may change your mind. I can now see that I didn’t really know what I was doing. I disliked working with couples. DEVELOPING A DIFFERENT APPROACH When I irst started my practice. and they need to be able to give the couple an experience of healthy communication. hey are relying heavily on their Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or on their preferred providers to provide quality service at a lower cost. Moreover. Although psychotherapy will continue to be covered. his book has been designed to fulill those needs. And this may be true for many of today’s professionals. the agreement would usually last only a few weeks. herapists need to know exactly what it is that they want a couple to learn about relationships. In my frustration.

and we saw immediate results. yet. “One day. Unfortunately. an otherwise ordinary afternoon was to mark the beginning of a major change for us. he consistently positive results of Imago herapy have made me a irm believer in this work. and we are frustrated. went on to become a workshop presenter for Imago Relationship herapy and now conduct the same 2-day workshops that I was so reluctant to attend at irst. Establishing and using a transference are things of the past if couples only have 10 to 20 sessions in which to work with you. Most of those programs teach us to apply individual or family skills to marriages—and that just doesn’t work! Several years ago. I listened and smiled and changed the subject.” We went from always wanting to be together to trying to ind ways to be apart. structured. many of us were trained in long-term models.” wherein regulations are mandating that we see clients in fewer sessions. In the process. there is very little we will be able to do about insurance policies that shorten our time with clients. Marianne and I began applying the skills we learned in the workshop to our marriage. In graduate school. or they may live in the same house and never talk. we are now witnessing the gradual transformation of our profession into an “industry. Hendrix. One day during our summer vacation at the New Jersey shore. hat experience changed the way I looked at relationships—forever! hrough Dr. To further compound this situation. With the increasing number of limitations being placed upon therapists by managed care and new government regulations. I’m going to study with that man!” Less than a year later—in spite of my resistance—I found myself with my wife and our struggling relationship in New York attending a 2-day couples workshop led by Dr. Hendrix really seemed to know what he was talking about. my wife Marianne and I began to experience some glitches in our own “perfect” relationship. we became Certiied Imago Relationship herapists. Ph.” and “you’ve changed. and easy for clients to do on their own—after the therapy is over. she commented on how wonderful the article was—how Dr. extract the essence. but we were never the same again. we do have to realize that our old long-term models will not it into this scenario. . our ability to be of real help to our clients is being greatly hampered. Marianne was sitting on the beach reading an article on relationships by Harville Hendrix. We’d exchange little remarks such as “you weren’t this way when I married you. Marianne’s prediction came true: We both went on to study with Dr. he most amazing development is that I. Only a small percentage of couples use their relationships for their intended purpose: growth and healing. However. Hendrix himself. they may ight. It’s like trying to squeeze Texas into Rhode Island: It doesn’t it.xxii • Preface to the First Edition because many graduate programs are weak in the area of couples therapy. Our problems were common enough: We weren’t meeting each other’s expectations. hey will have to be fast. we have been ofered little in the way of rethinking our long-term models. iguring he couldn’t know any more than I already knew. We cannot spend a month taking a history and getting to know the client. I didn’t realize how serious Marianne was until she announced. Dr. Sometimes we were more volatile than usual. I learned that all relationships go through a power-struggle stage: Couples may split up. As Marianne read on. Hendrix had written the book Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (1988) and was a contributing editor to the magazine. in Family Circle.D.. but all relationships struggle—and most of them remain at this stage. Hendrix’s program. and sometimes we experienced a shorter frustration time. the great skeptic. and package it so that therapists on the “front line” can use it in their daily work with clients? hese new models will have to educate and empower clients. his is a dilemma that will be shared by practitioners of all long-term models: How do we take what we have been doing. and I actually found that I started to enjoy working with couples! Moreover. We then began to use these skills in our practice.

It takes the best of a proven model and gives it to the therapist in a usable package that educates. the therapist should feel a sense of accomplishment. In doing so. empowers. that is. It was developed out of a need. upon the conclusion of this type of couples therapy. it will work for the couples who are ready to take in the information and use the techniques daily. it is simple and structured. Short-term Imago herapy is a model for the future. following my many discussions with employee assistance professionals and managed care therapists. no longer lamenting.” . his short-term intervention has been tested in an EAP setting.Preface to the First Edition • xxiii his book aims to give therapists the essence of Imago herapy. with clients reporting better than expected results. and gives couples skills they can use for the duration of their relationship. For the therapist. it makes couples less dependent on the therapist and more aware of their available support systems. If presented as described. Furthermore. themselves. “If only I had more time.


broadly encompassing communications skill. you will be providing information to the couples. spread out the work over the extra sessions. and you feel that they need more work. as well as teaching them an efective. you should be able to gather enough information to prepare an adequate history and report for your iles. I strongly recommend a minimum of six sessions in order to give couples ample opportunity to practice while you are present. suggested lecture. and deal with anger. or include a session speciically for the practice of skills. get your history from the work they are doing. following Session One. If you have more than six sessions available. you will be teaching the couple how to reromanticize their relationship. Typically. herefore. change behaviors. and homework. he idea is to help you stay on track in the therapy while still maintaining your energy and creativity. Certain principles and approaches are repeated at various times so you won’t have to lip back and forth in the book to ind the appropriate material.” which is followed by a chapter on “Imago Relationship heory and herapy. One of the things you will have to get used to is the pace of this work—it’s fast! You will be squeezing 12 weeks of work into 6 to 10 sessions. the couple coming to therapy is ready to do the work. take advantage of the couple’s eagerness. In addition. OVERVIEW his book opens with an introductory chapter on “Making Couples herapy Work. From their childhood work and what they do in the sessions.” he body of the book is composed of six chapters that correspond to the six-session course of treatment for couples. that is. rather than spending an entire session gathering information from them. I have assumed that you—the therapist—are limited to between 3 and 12 sessions to work with couples. Also.HOW TO USE THIS BOOK In preparing this information. have the couple perform and monitor some of the work at home. In the irst three sessions. To pull this of. you should take full advantage of the session format. each subsequent session xxv . In Sessions hree through Six. If this is not possible. So put them to the task of acquiring the skills presented in this book. and I have included six detailed sessions for you to use with them. see the suggested referral resources provided in Appendix I at the back of the book. he book is designed both to help you quickly familiarize yourself with Imago herapy and to allow you to proceed with the facilitation of the couples sessions smoothly. In each session. you will ind a similar structure: starting the session. exercises.

there is no evidence that weekly sessions are more beneicial than biweekly ones. be aware of problems that may be of an organic nature that may require medical attention (see Asaad. 1995). his amounts to 3 hours a month rather than 4 and allows the couple 2 weeks to practice the skills learned. your speed will improve. You will also notice that the lectures are set of from the regular text. Nonetheless. short-term therapy is not the client telling you his or her problems with you wrapping your theory around them. because therapy is traditionally about an hour. be aware that you cannot help every marriage and that your best intervention may be to help them end the relationship successfully. the therapist must use good judgment to determine whether or not the clients are in too much distress to continue with the sessions as presented. biweekly sessions may be preferred. We have found that the best way to handle couples in distress is to keep them in the dialogue process you will teach them in the irst session. However. you may ind that couples therapy takes longer than the traditional 50. the six sessions are presented here in a 1-hour time frame. Within Session One. Although this can sometimes create a scheduling nightmare for the therapist. Of course. with the therapist more of a teacher and consultant to the process. It seems that weekly hour-long sessions were created for therapist convenience during the era when dependence and transference were thought to be important to the therapeutic process. the more this built-in convenience will come in handy. it is the client wrapping his or her problems around your theory and techniques. it is possible to negotiate with case managers around the time issues—ask approval for six one-and-a-half-hour biweekly sessions rather than 10 onehour sessions.xxvi • How to Use This Book will start out with a review of the preceding 60-minute therapy hour. Also. If all you do is dialogue for the entire length of treatment. his gives the couple 12 weeks of contact and practice with the therapist rather than 10 weeks of rushed contact. you will see a page with a suggested time frame and a list of goals for the session. I suggest that you become familiar enough with the material to present it to clients without the book. . you may want to be creative with your session hour. you may not be able to complete the work within this time frame. To ind more time. I see couples for an hour and a half. Rather. In addition. For those working with managed care. and the rest will follow. it is not recommended that you read these lectures to the couple. A Note About Time At the beginning of each session. but as you become familiar with it. With Imago Relationship herapy’s emphasis on the couple’s relationship as the primary healing relationship. but I see them every other week. he more couples you are treating at any given time. his refers to the average amount of time it takes a therapist to present this portion of the material. Also. In my own practice. rather. Remember. the Basic Imago heory will be reviewed to get you on your way. I suggest that you go into the session knowing what your goals are and what you want to accomplish within the hour. hey are free to call me during the 2-week interval between sessions with any questions that may arise about the material. At irst. you will still be of great help to the couple.

.” is a new section in the second edition and includes some of the basic researched traits of happy stable couples that can serve as a base for working with couples in the Imago Relationship herapy method. he book is organized as follows. or sexual preference. (A list of therapists in your area is available from Imago Relationships International.. we will look at the importance of couples learning this skill to connect. You have permission to photocopy the handouts to give to the couple to complete their homework. and indings in mind when working with any couple. and you may contact them with your questions and referrals. heal developmental vulnerabilities. It is important that all couples in treatment leave with the qualities found in happy stable couples. Following a description of the dialogue. Ph. diferentiate. and the works of others in the couple and couple education ield. Stanley. all handouts are also reproduced in the back of the book. Hendrix has reined this work through his 35 years of couples work by applying the theory and skills in the hundreds of 2-day couples workshops he has conducted. Susan Johnson. Done right. making multiple copies for future couples. Each set of handouts includes instructions regarding their purpose and when to give the couple the handouts in the session. and Blumberg. and is explained in his books Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (1988) and Keeping the Love You Find: A Guide for Singles (1992). Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy Chapter 2 provides an introduction to Imago Relationship herapy. concepts. He has taught these skills to thousands of therapists around the world. “Making Couples herapy Work. For ease of photocopying.D.How to Use This Book • xxvii About the Homework At the end of each chapter that is devoted to a session are handouts to give to the couple for that session. the prep model of Markman. many of whom have since become Certiied Imago Relationship herapists. race. See Appendix I at the end of this book. Dr. the Couples Dialogue. no matter what model of therapy is used. his chapter summarizes the works of couple researchers John Gottman. Making Couples Therapy Work Chapter 1. the Imago model can utilize research indings and concepts derived from these other couples models to promote healthy couple skills. he therapist would do well to keep these skills. and William Doherty. which was developed by Harville Hendrix. and create gender understanding. You may want to consider copying all of the handouts together to produce a packet. Couples Dialogue: The Essential Skill Chapter 3 will be a detailed description of the basic skill of this work. Pepper Schwartz. religious beliefs.) You should ind that the Imago herapy sessions presented in this book will be applicable to most of the couples who come to you for therapy—regardless of age.

couples use their newfound empathy and begin the process of “reromanticizing” their relationship. Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship In chapter 7. In an important homework assignment. Childhood Experiences. After monitoring the couple in an actual practice of the Couples Dialogue. the Brain.xxviii • How to Use This Book Session One: The Cosmic Journey. furthermore. Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partner In chapter 6. and Mate Selection his session (chapter 5) deals with how couples meet and fall in love. you will present a lecture on “Development and Childhood Experiences. you will briely introduce the couple to Imago herapy. you will help the couple to develop empathy for each other by giving them work that will ask them to “reimage” each other. Session Two: Development. the couple will create a shared vision for their relationship. and the receiving partners will learn that their resistance is usually in an area in which they most need to grow in order to become whole.” You will also introduce the basic communications skill—Couples Dialogue.” here will also be a time for high-energy fun and belly laughs. and you will present a lecture. you will teach couples how to state their frustrations so that they can be heard. as well as reinstating “caring behaviors. Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations Couples usually present their frustrations in a way that infuriates their partners—and nothing gets done! In chapter 8. his session is very experiential and involves two powerful exercises. rather than as a source of pain. and Couples Dialogue In this session (chapter 4). they will begin to see each other as a source of healing. his session will also introduce the couple to Behavior Change Requests and to an important principle in Imago herapy called stretching.” You will end the session by doing a guided imagery. “he Cosmic Journey and the Brain. . hey will begin to see each other as compassionate allies rather than as enemies. and you will give the couple homework that has been designed to illustrate why they picked each other as partners.

However. I have also included a section in chapter 11 called “What If the herapy Does Not Work?” Last. you will teach the couple a seven-step process known as the Container. which—if done correctly—will help them to express their rage and do so in a safe atmosphere. you will ind an appendix containing resources for the therapist and couple. and case studies. it is safer and more productive than what couples have probably been using at home. because the Container is structured. you may want to consider getting some additional training or to see an actual Container Process. and a section with all the homework assignments for easy photocopying. . Because the Container Process is not always needed for every couple. you will be given the option to continue in problem solving using the Behavior Change Request. Although this is a tough way to end a therapy relationship. and prior to conducting this exercise on your own for the irst time. a bibliography. for many couples it is the answer that they have been looking for in their marriage—one that clearly illustrates how the therapy works. he remaining chapters (chapters 10–12) are devoted to posttherapy work for couples— optional sessions and ways to be creative with this book. he Container is very powerful. two appendices that report the indings of studies devoted to the eicacy of short-term Imago herapy.How to Use This Book • xxix Session Six: Resolving Rage In this session (chapter 9).

MAKING COUPLES THERAPY WORK Start With the Basic Ingredients
All happy families resemble each other; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

As this chapter is being written, I am also getting ready for the high school graduation celebration for my oldest son. I am a native of New Orleans. In keeping with my traditions, I am going to prepare a large pot of beans and rice, and an even larger pot of gumbo. I have lived in Pennsylvania for the past 20 years, and I regularly get phone calls from friends suggesting that I try the newest Cajun or Creole restaurant that has opened in the area. I am usually disappointed. It is not the fault of the chefs, who, I am sure, try to recreate the foods of my childhood. I have come to the conclusion that they do not know what they are supposed to taste like. his is not to say that every bowl of gumbo tastes the same—for those of us who like this food, that would be boring. But every gumbo tastes familiar to the native because it has certain qualities that make it a real gumbo—texture, fragrance, smell, and just the right bite. Every gumbo has a base: a roux—a slow cooking of lour and oil to a chocolate brown, carefully tended to for at least a half an hour; lots of onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and spices; and then the added chicken stock to inish. his is the foundation of every gumbo. What’s next? As we say in New Orleans, “Whatever you have in your refrigerator.” It could be chicken, duck, sausage, seafood, deer, possum, or any meat you have available. 1

2 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition I use this analogy to set up an idea: Every couple is diferent because they each bring their own style to the relationship. Yet, every “happy stable couple” (Gottman, 1997)—a term we will use throughout this chapter to talk about couples—has a base. As a couples therapist, it is important to know that base in order for the couple you are working with to remain or to become happy and stable. And yet, most who work with couples do not know this base—like the gumbo, they do not know what it is supposed to taste like. In his 2002 essay in the Psychotherapy Networker, Dr. William Doherty observes that most psychotherapists who work with couples have never had a course or supervision in couples therapy. “From a consumer’s point of view, going in for couples therapy is like having your broken leg set by [a] doctor who skipped orthopaedics in medical school” (Doherty, 2002). his chapter will not substitute for solid training or supervision in what makes a good couples relationship. What it will attempt to do is provide the ingredients list for healthy coupling based on the most up-to-date research available. It should be drawn on by therapists using this book as the base for the work they will be doing with the couple to make sure they have the basic ingredients for a happy stable relationship. It will consequently make the work of Imago therapy described in this book more satisfying, successful, and longlasting for the couple.

One of the irst, and the most diagnostic, pieces of information the couples therapist should request is “Tell me the story of how you met.” he response will tell you volumes about the status of the couple’s relationship. Research by Buehlman, Gottman, and Fainsilber (1992) suggests that couples who remember the story of how they met fondly and with details have a very high chance of staying together. In other words, after you ask the question, if the couple smile and then recall the details of their meeting, then you probably have a couple who are motivated and wanting to work toward a solution to their problems or, better yet, a deepening of their relationship. In my own interviews with happy stable couples married 40 years or longer, asking how they met yielded smiles and very descriptive details, including what they were wearing and what they were thinking when they met each other. Some did not fall in love right away, but they all remembered their irst meeting with great pleasure. On the other hand, couples who are not doing well will tend to tell their story haltingly and with little detail. Many have changed their story to it their dour mood about the marriage. A once-great story of meeting while swimming at a lake during a picnic on a glorious day may become “He stepped on my foot in the water without even apologizing. I should have drowned him when I had the chance.” Hopefully your couple will not be that bad, but careful attention to how they tell their story will alert you to how hard your work is going to be. One trick to try in the face of a bad story is to help the couple come up with a

Making Couples Therapy Work • 3 better one, or remember their old story as it once was: “How amazing that of all the feet he could have stepped on that day, he stepped on yours! And that you even looked up to see this great guy standing there and that you went on to spend all these years together and have these wonderful kids. All that from one clumsy misstep!” Although it may sound contrived, when the work is done, these couples will need a good story to tell.

When couples come for couples counseling, many will have an eroded base of respect and trust for each other. One reason for this is that they usually come as a last resort and they have built up enormous resentments by the time they get into therapy. A study conducted on wait time—the time a couple has waited to call a professional from the time they know they have a problem—shows that couples who come for counseling wait an average of 6 years to make the call. his is as opposed to those who wait 30 minutes to go to the hospital when they have chest pains and women who wait 30 days when they feel a lump in their breast (Gottman, 1997). As one can imagine, an enormous amount of resentment can build up in that time—and now the couple expects you to ix it. Building love and respect is diicult for couples, especially for those who have experienced afairs or other serious lies. hese issues may have to be dealt with irst in order to help the couple move forward in their relationship. he techniques used in Imago Relationship herapy will help the couple move toward regaining the trust and respect they may have once had in the relationship by allowing them to vent the frustration and be heard by the partner in an empathic manner. Two main ingredients for all healthy and stable couples are love and respect. Gottman found in his extensive research on happy and stable couples, “No matter what style of marriage they have adopted, their discussions, for the most part, are carried along by a strong undercurrent of two basic ingredients: love and respect” (Gottman, 1994, p. 61). Some resentment occurs because of normal family circumstances—the career or travel dreams one may have to give up because of child rearing or inancial diiculties. Couples who establish a plan for their relationship and have preventative measures to lower resentment and maintain respect typically have an easier time with maintaining trust. Barry and Emily McCarthy (2004) ofer four important measures couples can take to establish themselves as a couple and maintain their love and respect for each other: 1. Develop a communication pattern in which you empathically listen, make clear requests, and give supportive feedback. 2. Identify conlicts and diiculties, discuss alternatives, problem solve, and reach viable agreements. 3. Share emotional and sexual intimacy so your bond is nurtured and energized. 4. Enjoy each other, share activities and your lives. (p. 5)

4 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition

Couples should possess some basic skills in order to be happy and stable. Some couples do this naturally; others may need to be taught the skills. here are many useful workshop programs that couples can attend to obtain these skills including the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), the Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (PAIRS), or an Imago Relationship herapy weekend workshop. hese programs have accumulated research that supports the idea that the relationships skills they teach lead to longer and happier relationships (Durana, 1996; Markman, Renick, Floyd, Stanley, and Clements, 1993; Renick, Blumberg, and Markman, 1992). he program in Imago Relationship herapy you are about to teach couples is also a skills-based program that tends to go psychologically deeper than most skillsbased workshop programs. When doing Imago work with couples, it is helpful to teach them ways to use the skills in milder, everyday conversations as well as in deeper, more intense discovery sessions. It may also be useful to recommend that the couple attend a PREP, PAIRS, or Imago workshop—couples can never have too many basic skills.

One of the most respected couples researchers today is John Gottman of the University of Washington. Gottman’s research with thousands of couples has provided valuable insight into what works and what does not work for couples. He found that distressed couples on the verge of divorce have signs that he calls “he Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1994, p. 73). Although many marriages manifest these characteristics at one time or another, distressed marriages show these signs regularly in conlict situations. he Four Horsemen are as follows: 1. Criticism: his takes the form of “attacking someone’s personality or character—rather than a speciic behavior—usually with blame” (p. 73). 2. Contempt: his is usually done with words and body language with “the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner” (p. 79). 3. Defensiveness: his is the natural tendency to defend oneself from contempt and ward of a perceived attack. he impulse to defend actually increases the problem. Defensive maneuvers, according to Gottman (1994, pp. 85–89), include denying responsibility, making excuses, disagreeing with negative mind reading, cross-complaining, yes-butting, repeating oneself, whining, and defensive body language. 4. Stonewalling: “Stonewallers” remove themselves from the conversation, replacing conversation prompters like “uh-hum” with stony silence. Eightyive percent of stonewallers are men. In marriages where there is habitual stonewalling, marital failure is nearly always predictable.

Making Couples Therapy Work • 5 On the positive side, Gottman found two traits most prevalent in happy and stable couples (Gottman, 1997). he irst he calls “wife slow startup”; the second he describes as the male allowing his wife to inluence him in decision making. In a sense, the two are related. Gottman observed that marriages in which the couple, particularly the wife, began an interaction with a hardened startup (“You always come home late, and that pisses me of”) were signiicantly more likely to divorce than those marriages in which the couple used a softener startup—“I know you are working hard, and I appreciate that, but I feel really upset when you come home late” (Gottman, 1997). Men tend to respond to hardened statements with withdrawal, which does not allow the wife’s words to inluence him. He suggests that the male vasal response—the rapid heartbeat and state of readiness for ight or light in the face of danger, activated more easily in men than in women because of innate family protective mechanisms in males—is triggered by hardened startups. his mechanism seems to be bypassed in softened startups, allowing the male to be receptive to the female’s request. Couples in which husbands do not allow for inluence or suggestion from the wife are signiicantly more prone to divorce (Gottman, 1997). A statement of inluence might sound like “hat’s a good idea. Let’s try it,” or “I like my idea about this, but let’s give yours a try irst,” or even “I’ll keep your thoughts about this in mind while I make my decision.” Gottman (1997) also reports on the importance of caring behaviors in happy stable marriages. He found a constant ratio of ive positive interactions for every negative interaction in couples who report themselves as happy and stable. Unhappy stable marriages are lucky to have even a one-to-one ratio. In other words, in the happy stable marriage, partners lood each other with caring behaviors, behaviors each one needs in order to feel cared for. Gottman (1994) lists and elaborates on the qualities that bring out the positive aspects of marriage. His list includes showing interest, being afectionate, showing you care, being appreciative, showing your concern, being empathic, being accepting, joking around, and sharing your joy (Gottman, 1994, pp. 59–61).

Happy stable couples have a sense of attachment to each other and to the relationship they have developed. hrough this attachment, they have been able to be emotionally open and vulnerable to each other. hese couples are aware that they are social beings and understand that they are at their best when they feel attached to each other through their relationship. Susan Johnson (2004), whose work is informed by attachment theorist John Bowlby (1973), states that the ultimate goal of couple therapy is a “safe, accepting connection with the partner” (p. 43). Couples who feel safe with each other are able to be open to each other emotionally and are thus able to feel connected, feel empathic, and

he diference between happy and unhappy couples seems to lie in their style of conlict. and Markman (1999) have mapped a course for marriage where negative interpretation prevails. confusion. A consistently negative style of handling conlict will result in negative interpretations of the partner that will lead to a distrust of everything a partner says or does. Like all couples. “Change does not occur primarily through insight. or joy. he listener is able to maintain a sense of self while entering the other’s afective world. Corrales.6 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.” Happy and stable couples are able to feel into each other’s experience and have a visceral understanding of the other’s feelings. Without intervention or an efort by the couple to correct the negativity. Stanley. When partners are able to experience each other authentically through empathy. When couples are able to create safety and experience each other authentically. they argue and get frustrated with each other. and Wackman (1975) reports. but at the same time knows that those feelings are separate. Corrales and Miller also found that couples were more satisied with their marriages when both husbands and wives were high in accurately understanding their partner’s view. Blumberg. a deep attachment occurs. through some kind of catharsis. 281) or divorce. Stanley et al. Counselors working with couples who lack attachment and empathy skills will need to create a sense of safety from which empathy can be born. frustration. partners lose conidence with each other. In other words. the friendship dissolves. or through negotiation. . Research by Miller. Higher levels of marital satisfaction have been reported when both husbands and wives used communication styles involving high disclosure. hey also know that their visit to each other’s experience is temporary because empathy is a two-part process of “afective surrender” and “cognitive structure” (Jordan. p. negative interpretations. invalidation. whether of anger. 148) he key to attaining emotional connection seems to be empathy. 1991. Happy Stable Couples Fight Fairly Happy stable couples are not always friendly and happy in their relationship. 52). helping the listening partner listen fearlessly to a partner’s feelings. one is able to understand the other’s feelings clearly. 69). 2004 p. It occurs through new emotional experience and new interactional events” (Johnson. and the marriage dissolves into a “stable misery” (p. (p. he term empathy came to us from Germany from the rather recently created word einfuhlung. Empathic couples are able to experience genuine connection from a differentiated stance. the partner becomes associated with pain. and then validating the partner’s experience rather than trying to marginalize or replace it with his or her own version. which translates into English as “to feel into. (1999) list four types of conlictual behaviors that are corrosive to couples relationships: “escalation. Second Edition have a deeper knowing of the other. a change occurs within the relationship.

Making Couples Therapy Work • 7 and withdrawal” (p. And withdrawal is when one or both partners leave a conlict before feeling heard or inding a resolution. such as the Couples Dialogue of Imago. 284). and Imago ofer structured communications procedures that allow couples to hear each other and be heard. often based on past experiences. as the couple become proicient at learning these structures. and frustrations. have a respectful way of communicating that allows each partner to be heard and validated. the partners practice sellessness in regard to each other: “Loving means transcending narcissism and becoming a . Conlict is not so much about who is right. wants. they truly are friends. and share the loor) (p. 1999. Happy Stable Couples Are Friends Happy stable couples treat each other with love and respect. emotions. When couples are able to be fair in their conlicts. Escalation is a communication style that fans the lames of the conlict and brings about intense emotion. Markman. or ignores the experience expressed by a partner. he speaker-listener technique has rules for the speaker (speak for yourself. less resentment develops in the relationship. desires. PAIRS. p. Negative interpretation occurs when partners search for negative motives in their partner’s communication. is for these skills to become a natural part of the couple’s way of communicating. If couples are able to use positive ways of handling conlict. develop intense intimacy.. Invalidation occurs when a partner negates. and have respect for each other. even if things get loud. “he structure of simple rules brings a degree of safety to a conversation that allows for greater openness and less negative afect” (Stanley et al. 284). but about hearing what each has to say. Couples who learn structured communication techniques. 1999. they emerge with less fear and are able to go deeper into the relationship.. Couples programs such as PREP. deined as “agreed-upon ground rules for handling diferences and conlict” (p. hey try to remain mindful of the other’s needs. and those learning how to become so. and may even be self-centered at times. A protective factor used by these researchers in their clinical work is teaching a structured communication skill called the “speaker-listener” technique (Stanley et al. and Blumberg (2001) propose helping couples develop positive strategies and protective factors as a preventative means of dealing with conlicts that have the potential to erode a marriage. Stanley. or have a naturally structured way of communication are able to prevent these corrosive behaviors from occurring in their conlictual interactions. and rules for both (the speaker has the loor. he ultimate goal. and keep statements brief). Happy stable couples. 287). hey suggest that couples need communications structure. and don’t rebut). and using that information to come to some resolution. 284). mainly through a process of paraphrasing and validating the partner’s experience. Although each may have a well-deined sense of self. counters. p. hese couples use their empathic skills to connect with one another as friends. rules for the listener (paraphrase what you hear. 287).

accordingly. he ultimate goal is a relationship in which partners are able to use their irrational reactions as an interpersonal barometer. p. and lunch with friends are considered good for the individual partners as well as being a source of conversation to be shared in the relationship. and they are motivated to make necessary changes in their attitudes and behavior. 28). serve as an exit from the relationship. just as important. TV. walks. who may have to take care of children or spend time alone. Second Edition friend. these partners allow themselves to be inluenced by one another. hey monitor their relationship for signs of deterioration. or at least an “I’ll give up what I want this time” solution while hoping for. 2).8 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. they are willing to negotiate. In her 1994 book. the ability to negotiate diferences. especially those requiring a fair amount of time. and the ability to be private and separate (pp. reading the paper or a book. an instrument for measuring the present relationship atmosphere. Each spouse is capable of subordinating the self. there are times to nurture the other and times to nurture the relationship. 29–31). but not demanding. at best. 1981. a return of the favor in the future. he irritability. Individual time for such things as piano lessons. is to expose these underlying issues. shared worlds. sulking. 3) As is true of many couples. a collaboration of love and labor in order to produce profound intimacy and mutual respect” (1994. hese couples are aware of individual needs and encourage each other’s personal growth and reasonable leisure activities. hese couples understand that they have needs both as individuals and as a couple. there may be times when one partner is tempted to base his or her sense of self-esteem on career advancement. A work promotion may bring a partner high visibility and esteem but often at a high cost—extensive travel and long hours—thus placing added demands on the other partner. As friends. p. a “win-win” situation. listening to music. hese couples are willing to make changes for the good of their relationship. (Wile. Because each has a deep respect for the other. and romanticized longings of partners are often the only available indicators of an alienation and dissatisfaction from which both may be sufering. tennis. hey recognize that frustrations are a signal that they need to talk. Happy stable couples understand the implications of this. She outlines four principles of peer marriage: understanding with tolerance and respect. hey also are aware that these activities can be a sacriice for the nonparticipating partner. Peer partners are gracious in this aspect and are careful to not let their individual activities. At times of conlict. p. Pepper Schwartz deines what she calls “peer marriages” as “a marriage of equal companions. they are empathic to the other’s needs and respond in a way that is uplifting to the other. here are times to nurture the self. Partners think of each other’s needs and come through for one another as much as is humanly possible” (Schwartz. he appropriate therapeutic task. and they may choose to make the tough decision to deemphasize money and prestige for the good of . 1994.

hese are aspects of a person that have to be embraced as part of the package of both the partner and relationship. equally participatory team” (Schwartz. 61). the marriage develops and matures. It is diicult. 1994. to change how loudly a person laughs or the fact that he or she cries easily. After they marry. but the traits themselves probably are not changeable. generosity. including spending 15 minutes together discussing their day at the kitchen table. hese couples also recognize that they cannot change everything. Couples at this stage need to recognize the importance of taking care of their relationship irst so they have the energy to take care of their children and work responsibilities. “When couples are falling in love. Although love is a powerful impetus for husbands and wives to help and support each other. consideration. And that is exactly as it should be. Couple rituals can take many forms. he Intentional Family. a couple’s ideology. hese rituals can include going to religious services together. sensitivity. they are experts at creating rituals. for example. such characteristics are often so embedded in the partner’s personality that they are unchangeable. p. or going dancing. it does not in itself create the substance of the relationship—the personal qualities and skills that are crucial to sustain it and make it grow. 4) Happy Stable Couples Have Intentional Rituals In his book. hey have to be resilient. and peculiarities. (Beck. Happy stable couples have rituals that deine their relationship and give meaning to who they are together. they often lose their touch” (p.Making Couples Therapy Work • 9 the relationship. he form a couple ritual takes can be almost anything. With busy schedules consumed by the demands of caring for children. almost like an organization’s mission statement. Couple time is extremely diicult to ind during the childrearing years. equally empowered. Special personal qualities are crucial for a happy relationship: commitment. making time to discuss books or magazine articles. p. compromise. here may be some aspects of their partner that they will have to tolerate and to which they simply will have to adjust. Friday night dates. and to create a family. 64). and follow through with joint decisions. he expression of traits such as boldness. to make each other happy. hey participate in things that let them feel close as a couple. . helps remind them what their central goal is: the marital intimacy that comes from being part of a well-matched. Several factors often get in the way of couples participating in rituals. sociability. mistakes. As these ‘virtues’ are cultivated over a period of time. and forgiving. and attention to professional advancement. as long as it is repeated and enjoyed by both members of the couple. “When this begins to happen. Although frustrating at times. inding a moment to take for the relationship may seem self-indulgent. special birthday celebrations. accepting. hey need to be tolerant of each other’s laws. 1988. William Doherty (1997) states. or even going up to bed together. or cheerfulness may be somewhat modiiable.

However. this may be repetitious and boring. especially by men. is the wedding anniversary. Time could be spent suggesting a few alternatives. but for many families. having a special dinner. whereas men hope that their relationships can be maintenance-free. hey understand that how they celebrate these important moments deines who they are as a couple and a family—a good Christmas for this couple is when the celebration was as good as it was the year before. or a regular evening to snuggle on the couch watching a drama or comedy on TV will remind the couple of the reasons they married in the irst place. Only becoming intentional—doing things for a purpose—in the relationship will counter this natural tendency to become complacent. As many of us know. For some. women tend to fret and worry. Relationships do not maintain themselves and tend to fall quickly to the forces of entropy if not nurtured. such pleasant consistency is anticipated and is valued as a way of deining the family. In these days of high divorce rates. or watching the wedding video together. If the answer is ambivalent. and anniversaries is also important. According to Doherty (1997). helping the couple ind rituals that it their relationship personality. this is not the case. and encouraging them to institute some simple ones to begin to improve their relationship. the counselor should ask the couple what rituals they engage in as a couple. A few minutes of intimate conversation. Happy and stable couples have created deined and consistent rituals for important days. Second Edition Time for each other needs to become a priority. a quiet meal together. the counselor would do well to let the couple know how important it is to do things that deine them on a regular basis. But often. Over the course of therapy. whether by giving lowers. major holidays. another year married is something to celebrate.10 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Men and women need to recognize this and put in place regular rituals that maintain and refuel the relationship. hese rituals will become features in the couple’s marriage as they look back and tell others how they have maintained a successful relationship. In the counseling situation. to have rituals in place is very important preparation for the time when the children are launched and the couple are left alone with each other. It becomes a celebration of the marriage and of the relationship. . An event that often gets overlooked. this happens quicker than you think. And. How a couple celebrate birthdays. couples come to some agreement to minimize this event—a big mistake in my mind. Happy and stable couples recognize this as an important day that should be celebrated. maintaining relationship ties and rituals that promote closeness tends to be initiated more often by women than by men. the counselor should check to see if they have established any of the rituals in their day-to-day encounters and then anchor them through positive feedback. Although it is not always the case. a shower together. his would also be a good time for couples to relect on how far they have come and what they hope to accomplish over the next few years—a day to reestablish connection with each other.

yell. and rapid breathing. Positive thoughts open up the possibility of change and ofer hope for constructive resolution. For couples in distress. 159). Couples should be encouraged to think about some of the good things their partner has done for them (e. he notion of emotional intelligence (Goleman. Others. When these couples feel a rise in their heartbeat. Happy stable couples. During the 20-minute break. or they learn. sweating. either behavioral or emotional. however. He emphasizes that 20 minutes is the “actual physiological recovery time” (p. 1995) proposes that those who understand their own and others’ emotions and are able to respond. hit. especially the need for containment of negative feelings and the tolerance of anxiety. Goleman asserts that emotional intelligence is more important than logical intelligence when it comes to social relationships. to such emotions generally do best in the social world. Some couples are able to monitor this change and calm themselves down during the course of conversation. or those desiring to become so.g. he problem is not the occasional outburst.g. Goleman suggests that they take a 20-minute break from the discussion. adopt a diferent way of dealing with intense emotion—as a response rather than a reaction. and nondefensive listening and speaking (pp. When in emotional situations. “emotional intelligence” (Goleman. deep breathing.. rather.. In fact. Negative thoughts continue the pain and hurt cycle experienced by many couples and close them of from the healing qualities of optimism. hey may scream. he relationship then becomes a setting for trauma. these moments can cause intense responses that lood the couple’s emotional system to the point where they are overwhelmed by out-of-control feelings. . Couples are also guided by their automatic thoughts that are generated in their conversations. or say things they will later regret. 143–146). detoxifying self-talk. If a couple are guided by negative thoughts about each other (e. 1995).Making Couples Therapy Work • 11 Happy Stable Couples Are Able to Respond Rather Than React All relationships have stressful moments that call for some response. Goleman (1995) discusses three emotional intelligence strategies a couple can utilize to keep things at a level of response: calming down. “He does work hard for the family” or “She does work hard for the family”). hey are able to cope in this way because they have. 144) needed for the body to calm down enough so that it can respond rather than react. He extends this to the importance of emotional intelligence in happy and stable marriages. “He never listens to me” or “She’s always nagging”). the partners might be encouraged to do some exercise. or relaxation techniques. are easily caught by the changes. it is when the couple feel continuously looded. hese looding experiences have been described by Goleman (1995) as “a self-perpetuating emotional hijacking” (p. and cascade into the emotional looding. people’s bodies begin to physically react to the stress and can develop a rapid heartbeat. rather than react. then their conversations will typically end in the same negative place as always. Calm couples have responsive rather than reactive dialogues.

he skills and practice of Imago Relationship herapy ofer a way for couples to acquire these ingredients through the course of therapy. hese are the qualities of a good relationship. Either marriage can be acceptable and fulilling. It ofers ways to safely . At the end of their therapy. Like the roux of a gumbo. After that. he approach ofers the couple structured communication skills. feel understood. Second Edition Goleman (1995) also suggests that couples nondefensively listen to each other—a theme heard throughout this chapter from other couples researchers. hese couples need to build their friendship and learn. in a safe manner without fear of exposing their vulnerability to the other. he information in this chapter comes from researched and practiced sources on happy and stable marriages and how to make relationships last. a basic ability to approach each other softly and allow the other to inluence them. which includes empathy and validation. an experience in calming the body down so as not to become emotionally looded. and a good therapist would be wise to keep up with the latest indings. and ind solutions to problems and crises outside of the hyperemotional system that leads to relationship breakdown. When couples are able to maintain control of their physical responses by using their emotional intelligence. hese couples should have rituals that establish them as a couple and a family. the couple should end up with these happy and stable couple qualities as a part of their relationship. Some folks may be happy just to get along and be able to decide where to go to dinner on Friday night without getting into a ight. hey should be able to talk about most anything. making discoveries about their own human potential along the way. or relearn. In practice. PUTTING ALL THE INGREDIENTS TOGETHER I have attempted to put into these last pages the ingredients necessary for the foundation of a healthy relationship. and an opportunity to open to each other emotionally and develop trust. and in whatever direction the couple chooses to take their marriage.12 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. these attributes and skills are the ingredients that form the basis of a well-seasoned relationship recipe. it is up to the couple where and how far they want to take it. they are able to make deeper contact with each other. Goleman emphasizes that nondefensive listening. trust. here are certainly many more research studies that contribute to our knowledge of happy and stable relationships. Others may want to use their relationship for personal growth. Partners should experience a sense of equality in the relationship that allows both to feel powerful and connected. the couple should ind they have a structured communication skill. hey need to show their love for each other through a constant expression of caring behaviors. an ability to stay calm—or return to calm—during emotional conversations. and enjoy each other through laughter and intimacy. this means that whatever the model of therapy used. and that provide markers of their success as a couple and a family. is disarming and allows the body’s physiology to stay calm and in control. including emotions.

and appreciation. he pages that follow will give the reader the basic ideas and skills necessary to conduct Imago Relationship herapy sessions in a short-term model. this work ofers the couple the chance to become best friends who are able to become allies in the journey of marriage. . validation.Making Couples Therapy Work • 13 request behavior changes that are more likely to be acted upon than ignored. practice. if the couple can leave the therapy with the skills and attributes listed in this chapter. It is recommended that the reader interested in this model seek training through clinical instructors of this model at Imago Relationships International (www.imagorelationships. couples learn the value of and it gives couples the chance to create a vision for their relationship that will guide them toward their future. As mentioned in the beginning of this chapter. they will be better of than when they irst came to therapy. Happy and stable couple attributes make a good roux. rather than to remain stuck in the role of the foes they may have been in the past. reading is no substitute for good training. and no matter how inexperienced a clinician may be in that model. hrough Imago. Best of all. and supervision. And a good roux always leads to a good gumbo. And it is true that no matter what model a therapist chooses.


Actually.2 INTRODUCTION TO IMAGO RELATIONSHIP THEORY AND THERAPY Imago Relationship herapy was developed by Harville Hendrix. and that the exercises seem Gestalt-like or resemble psychodrama. who put the theory to the test in their own practices on a daily basis. In addition. Imago heory is based on a synthesis of established theories. as well as a growing understanding of our cosmological beginnings. and is explained in his books Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (1988) and Keeping the Love You Find: A Guide for Singles (1992). Ph. and encompasses recent biological discoveries and very old philosophical and mythological ideas. the approach is continually being reined by Imago Relationship herapists. hose who are familiar with Imago work often say that it seems analytical or Jungian.. 15 .D.

In the meantime. was now furious with the mortal woman for hurting Cupid.16 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. So Aphrodite decided to cast a spell on Psyche through her son Cupid (his better-known Roman name. Aphrodite was prone to its of jealousy. he would come to her side physically only in the dark of night. and to trust and believe in him. Despite her status as a Greek deity. So lovely was Psyche that she attracted the attention of Aphrodite. Cupid was an archer whose arrows would cause anyone struck by them to fall instantly in love. Although Psyche was well taken care of by Cupid. in reality. When she would tell him of her longing. holding a lamp over him while he slept. in turn. It seems that once there lived a beautiful mortal named Psyche. she longed to see her husband in person. Psyche’s sisters were growing suspicious. Aphrodite agreed that Psyche could have Cupid back. Cupid was so angry that Psyche had tried to learn his true identity that he stripped her of all the luxuries that he had given to her. . Second Edition CUPID AND PSYCHE he ancient Greeks learned early on that one of the most efective ways to get a message across to their people was to transform that message into a story. however: He did not want her to know that he was a god. But Aphrodite. He would then ask her to love him. he would explain that she might be afraid of his true form. whose name was the Greek word meaning soul or mind. she was so startled that she spilled a drop of oil from the lamp on him. Aphrodite thought it would be funny to have Cupid’s arrow strike Psyche. still jealous of Psyche. he would manifest only as a voice. he was known to the Greeks as Eros). Upon Cupid’s irst glimpse of Psyche. be a monster. he fell so madly in love with her that he took the lovely mortal as his wife. at their urging. would fall desperately in love with the irst being she came upon—such as a frog or an ogre. Aphrodite. to intervene on her behalf. In a wave of vindictiveness. but only upon the successful completion of certain tasks. Upon seeing that he was actually a god and not a monster. and he awoke. the god of love. Although their marriages were not based on romantic connections. he was so enchanted with her beauty that he accidentally cut himself on his own arrow. and she felt threatened by Psyche’s very existence. Indeed. who. Finally. hey convinced her to try to get a look at Cupid in case he might. and their tale of Cupid and Psyche sums this up rather well. the goddess of love and beauty. here was a catch. their mythology indicates that they had some understanding of the true meaning of love relationships. Aphrodite’s vengeful plan backired. he remorseful Psyche longed for her husband and inally came up with the idea that the way to get him back might be to ask his mother. Psyche approached Cupid in the night. so he never let her actually see him. During the day. condemning her to roam the land alone.

Hendrix likes to call romantic love “Nature’s Anesthesia. and would sacriice anything to be with the object of our desire. join in to aid in attachment and sexual desire.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 17 Of course. the brain seems to be able to tolerate PEA for a maximum of 2 years. Romantic love is supposed to happen—and it is supposed to end. With his help. a chemical called phenylethylamine. romantic love is a chemical reaction. One curious fact about PEA is that it is only found in the presence of the object of love. including vasopressin and oxytosin. hus. As a inal task. Also. Scientists are now telling us that when we fall in love. she returned safely. Cupid. helping her. It is a way of helping us recreate that scene of our childhood in which the vulnerability occurred so that we can at long last get what we really needed back then. PEA is a natural amphetamine and works to rev up the brain. 1992). As her husband had promised. ROMANTIC LOVE Like Cupid and Psyche. who despite his disappointment in his wife still loved her. But little did Aphrodite realize that her son. Other chemicals. We feel lightheaded and lost. or PEA. exhilaration.” because we are somehow numbed . Aphrodite decided to send Psyche to Hades (the Underworld) to bring back some beauty from the goddess Persephone. causing feelings of elation. But just what is it? Physiologically. he gods were so touched by the trials of Cupid and his mortal wife that they hosted a great feast at which they gave Psyche ambrosia and nectar. his Greek myth provides a good outline for Imago heory. and euphoria (Fisher. Psyche was so convinced that she would not be able to complete the task that she decided to kill herself. these were tasks that no mortal could ever carry out. Aphrodite knew this to be an impossible venture for poor Psyche. the tired and tattered Psyche was able to make the dreaded trip. As Psyche was about to jump to her death. who could no longer bear to be without her. is released in the brain. have been emotionally wounded and are vulnerable in the same way. we are usually taken in by romantic love. Cupid came to her as a soothing voice whispering assurances that he would keep her safe throughout the treacherous journey. Finally. because no mortal could travel to the Underworld and hope to return alive. his amphetamine pools in the emotional center of the brain and causes a natural high. during their individual development. Dr. would be there by Psyche’s side. Psyche herself became immortal and was able to remain with Cupid forever. as well as an illustration of how Imago herapy works. Romantic love gives us hope. implored the other gods to make Psyche a god as well. Imago heory sees romantic love as a way that nature has devised to get two people together who.

the old brain extends into the center of the brain and is composed of two segments: the “reptilian” brain and the “mammalian” brain (Maclean. 1964). if something or someone is safe. lee. Starting with the brain stem. live in groups. and mate. develop competence and skills. Animals and humans have these same two parts of the old brain. his third layer of brain matter is the cerebral cortex. And Nature does this in order to fulill its purpose: to give us the opportunity to heal the wounding experiences of our childhood through relationship and to provide us with what we need to inish our development—so we can grow! Humans are very complex creatures. Humans have evolved this part of the brain that contains speech. as I like to think of it. humans need to form an identity. unconscious as instinct. his image is held in the “unconscious” or. THE IMAGO AND THE BRAIN he word imago is Latin for image and refers to the idea that. inside our minds. he cerebral cortex is ive times larger than the old brain and completely surrounds it. and all logical processes. or submit. In addition to these activities. we have extensive developmental needs that must be met before we can consider ourselves “whole. sometimes known as the gray matter or “logical” brain. moreover.18 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and experience feelings. As babies. his part of the brain evolved with the mammals and inluenced the practice of animals living in groups. therefore. writing. and our tendency to live in groups. we are unable to survive away from the watchful eye and caretaking of an adult. and they are similar in function. we too are always concerned about safety. he mammalian part of the old brain is where we store our feelings. and live in groups. he reptilian brain is also concerned with safety. he unconscious is actually a very old part of the brain.” hide. digestion. freeze or “play dead. and in some form is found in all mammals. having the longest childhood of any animal. Second Edition to the faults of the person with whom we establish a love relationship. and breathing. It is also where our survival mechanisms are located. Because our brain evolved out of the reptile and mammal brain. For our purposes. the unconscious will be referred to as the old brain. we hold images of both the positive and negative aspects of our early childhood caretakers. take care of our young. nurture. and create friendships and intimacy. In contrast. and experiencing feelings. although we usually refer to an animal. that part of the brain that can hold memories but has no speech.” Other mammals only need to learn to hunt. feeding their young. What separates us from other animals is the third layer of brain matter. such as heartbeat. survive. It is when we do not get what we need developmentally that the Imago becomes important. animals play. reading. he reptilian brain is where control of our bodily functions is located—the things we don’t think about. humans work and are creative when they feel safe. our need for relationships. (he . which explains why—when danger strikes—we ight.

as well as her reactions when things did not necessarily go her way. we just instinctively take of. because it has no sense of time (that’s in the logical brain).) It is the cerebral cortex that is mainly responsible for the technological advances (and.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 19 only others for whom this is true are dolphins. . it has not been totally aware of itself. who have a smaller one. Bob and Barbara were able to access how this incident stirred up their early childhood experiences. the old brain will just do what it has been designed to do. It is unconscious and comes from that part of the brain that has instinct and memory but no speech. it appears to be the place where traumas. they are experiencing a sense of safety. his is where the intense reactions in relationships get their energy! Bob and Barbara had been married for 10 years. For example. When a couple meet and fall in love. Also. it dawned on Barbara. some might argue. his unconscious aspect is of signiicance to a couple. “Okay . By using Couples Dialogue (an Imago herapy tool). frustrations. who felt trapped. consciousness may not be the best word for this brain function. who have a larger cerebral cortex. Remember that speech is located in this logical brain part. the old brain often cannot distinguish between being frustrated in the present or being frustrated by someone from the past. Young lovers. can be observed playing with and nurturing each other. It is what may be described as “consciousness. Barbara was able to determine that her intense reaction stemmed from the sense of abandonment she experienced as a child. and apes. her brother was born. Another aspect of the old brain (where the Imago is formed and comes into play) is that although it has no speech. She called him every name in the book and told him that she expected to be called if he was going to be late. Some will stare through a partner (play dead) as a response to that partner’s complaints.” When the romantic love fades—and it always does—and things feel dangerous. others report a renewed interest in work and in being creative. . and childhood memories are stored. and her mother sufered a serious postpartum depression. Bob came home 20 minutes late without calling. that her intense desire to keep her own family together. You see. when it is dangerous.” However. He felt that this regularly kept him from doing things with “the guys. When they brought this up in their therapy. the ecological destruction) of humans. whatever you want to do! Just leave me alone!” Still others will try to hide by coming home late or by isolating themselves. When she was 2 years old. and Barbara was furious. when we see a vicious dog. his caused an equally intense reaction in Bob. hese are all aspects of what the old brain does when it is feeling “safe. we don’t hear the word run. for instance. who was often told about the “terrible” year her mother had experienced. for the most part. and so the old brain has an almost impossible time sending direct messages to it. were most likely . his is an old-brain function. Bob often felt trapped by Barbara’s desire to have the family together all the time. Others will submit and yell. deprivations. Some report intense sexual activity. couples will either ight or lee.” One day. hrough Couples Dialogue.

at the same time. Frustrations in relationships are very similar. Most of us know the cliché that begins “You know the honeymoon is over when . partners are not feeling safe with each other. he doesn’t understand how hard it is to raise a family. and they will demonstrate this by ighting. you will be concerned with two issues in Imago herapy: safety and growth. couples develop empathy for each other and begin to work together for their marriage and for their growth. she spends too much money. Most major highways have markers at every mile along the road to let you know where you are in case you need assistance. she’s too involved with activities. Some couples go from always wanting to be together to inding more and more ways to be apart. she works too much. and one of the ways to do this is to begin to normalize their frustrations.” When he was born. he works too much. . When they see how each touches the other’s vulnerable spots. they are able to see each other’s pain and. Some roads even have phones every mile so that you can call and have a tow truck sent to the speciic mile marker. there are growing pains that require partners to really hear each other in order to develop empathy and to reimage the other as “wounded” or vulnerable. or submitting. hey tell couples the exact spot . hiding. he plays too much softball. THE POWER STRUGGLE he power struggle is that stage of the relationship with which most couples are all too familiar. become in touch with their own.20 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. as one partner seeks to be closer.” But more important. At the start of therapy. And. consequently. And. to get what they need from the other. Sometimes partners use coercive methods. He has always felt under their thumb and. often feels the need for “space” in his current family. she doesn’t understand his feelings. he partners will come in pointing ingers as to who is the most “messed up. playing dead or freezing. on the other hand. Bob. Frustrations in relationships can be viewed as highway mile markers. had parents who ruled with an “iron ist. as in any growth process. Although some may balk at the idea that things that happen to us in our childhood afect our choices in relationships.” We know that they are equally “messed up. As the therapist. frustration sets in. the other is trying to create more distance. When partners do this. . Second Edition the result of having been “abandoned” as a child while her mother healed. and everyone expected him to “be good” all the time. his family lived with his grandmother. What they really need is for you to make it safe so they can work with each other. Often. regardless of the tactics used. both have what it takes to initiate the healing process for themselves and their partner. leeing. couples who undergo even a limited amount of Imago herapy begin to see this very clearly. such as screaming or whining.” he list that follows is a mile long: He stays out too late.

to do this. hen she decided that it was a phase. accused her of nagging. hey may then feel intense anger about the partner’s behavior or lack of responsiveness. hey did less and less for each other. hings began to change. Kathy began to notice that Joe stopped bringing her lowers. Although this older . Joe would soon revert to the previous behavior. or begin to ight a lot. However. in turn.” At irst. she became angry at the way he was treating her. and were always afectionate. his type of love only comes out of shared experience. hey will experience shock in response to the partner’s changes in behavior. He ofered the explanation “Flowers die. What they need to strive for is a love that is more permanent and true. It is at this point that a couple might split up. Defending Against the Loss of Romantic Love When couples irst begin to fall out of the romantic-love stage. Kathy regretfully gave up and concluded that she would have to have her needs met through work. because he used to bring them to her often. yet each still expected the other to do the same as before. until they break down again). Couples who have been together for a period of time must realize that the romantic love they experienced at the beginning of their relationship was temporary—it was drug induced. hese stages are not unlike other stages that people go through when they experience other types of loss. time spent together through ups and downs of life. In turn. they were ready to get married and settle down. friends. they might then use denial. hen. He. frustrations generally alert us to three main areas in need of repair: I. hey would give each other gifts and surprises. couples go into a period of sadness or despair because the relationship is not giving them what they wanted or hoped for. When that doesn’t work. they had to work long hours and sometimes take work home. chalking up changes to mood or some other simple explanation.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 21 where they have broken down so they can get the help they need in order to move on a little further down the road together (that is. By the time they graduated. of course. Partners often use coercive means in an attempt to get their partners to return to previous behaviors. or—as a last resort—an afair. but it did not pass. Although her anger often got her what she wanted in the moment. Joe and Kathy met in school and for 3 years did everything together. begin to live parallel lives. But what is it that couples need to repair? According to Imago heory. About a year into the marriage. After about a year of trying to get things back on track. she couldn’t believe this change in behavior. hey were so in love that they gave up some of their friends to spend time only with each other. both were working for large corporations and moving up the ladder. the individuals themselves go through stages.

to 10-year process that repeats itself several times over the life span. embracing conscious love is even more so. the child needs to be mirrored and validated by a primary caretaker to accomplish each stage without experiencing wounding or developing a negative childhood experience that requires a behavioral adaptation. or cartoon characters. In other words. II. 1975) takes place over a 4-year period and results in what she calls the psychological birth of the infant.22 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Healing the Wounds Created in the Developmental Process Developmental theories vary when it comes to the length of time that is deemed necessary to complete the developmental process. he parents need to allow exploration. Parents need to ofer praise. and although grieving the loss of romantic love is important. 2. Power and competence (4–6 years). cats. 1959) takes place over a lifetime and involves the completion of social tasks. 4. heir developmental needs are to make friends. airmation. Children need to be able to explore (usually just as far as the next room or four steps ahead at the mall) and need to be able to come back to tell their parents about their explorations and adventures. and Bergman. Second Edition love may not produce the highs of early romantic love. and initiative. Children are beginning to explore diferent parts of their personality.” because a change is taking place at each stage. parents need to be available and warm. 3. Pine. Attachment (birth–2 years). they will pretend to be dogs. Erikson considers each stage a “crisis. Children at this age are beginning to do things outside of the home. Erik Erikson’s developmental theory (Erikson. Exploration (2–3 years). hey are developing a sense of competence. or try on Mother’s makeup or Father’s shoes. A basic—and important—diference. Imago identiies ive distinct stages: 1. and mirroring. Children need to attach to a caretaker. including the development of trust. Children are now outside of the house and with friends. however. For example. and have an intense need (and usually a frustrating lack of skill) to be helpful around the house. Parents need to mirror (“You’re a puppy dog!”) so the child gets a sense that others see them as they are pretending to be. whereas Imago sees developmental stages as occurring in connection with the caretaker. 5. Imago borrows from both of these theories and sees development as a 7. it is more satisfying in the long run. autonomy. ind a best friend. and they need to be there to mirror the child’s excitement about exploring when he or she returns to them. is that Mahler and Erikson see their stages as necessitating separation and diference. such as in preschool. . Margaret Mahler’s separation–individuation developmental theory (Mahler. Concern (6–9 years). Identity (3–4 years).

In the exploration stage. these individuals are often seen as schizoid personality types. so now I’ll do anything I want and I’m going to be the best at it—and no one is going to stop me!”). In relationships. when that doesn’t work. they are able to become intimate friends and give freely to each other. these people might be termed as having borderline or narcissistic personality disorders. that type would be either a Clinger (“I didn’t get held. when I ind someone. they will form an identity as a couple and as competent individuals. if the child was not held enough. and the peer group will form an identity. they will form an intimate relationship with one of the members of the peer group. and our old brain—which has no sense of time—still wants and needs what it did not get! herefore. he Clinger often seeks therapy for human contact. hey then begin to explore each other. Imago herapy’s developmental model is a cyclical process that starts up all over again in adolescence. respectively. Adolescents develop a sense of power in their peer groups. these people seek availability and warmth (even though the avoiders say they don’t want it). I want to assure you that it is Earth. life rarely gets to play itself out in such a tidy scenario. He or she will become either a Fuser (“No one got excited about me or about what I liked. so I’m going to ind someone and make them respond!”) or an Isolator (“I couldn’t do anything when I was a kid. . the adolescent will attach to a peer group. both in their personal lives and in their work. Once they do this. we try to get these needs met during the second part of the cycle with our peers. Diagnostically. developing a supportive friend network. if all goes well. Of course. or there is no one to return to (parent leaves the room or is not enthusiastic about what the child inds). And once they are able to accomplish that. I’m going to hold on and never let go!”) or an Avoider (“I didn’t get held. they are able to develop their power and competence. and. we try on the third part of the cycle with our partners. and. Parents need to promote friendships and serve as good role models in terms of their own friendships. First. he adolescent will then explore with his or her peers. But what are we trying to accomplish? hat depends on what we missed—in what ways do we feel unfulilled? In the attachment phase. they could not give us everything that we needed. he Avoider most often stays alone. if a child cannot explore (“You must not leave this room and must always stay next to me”) or is shamed upon his or her return. his process repeats itself yet again in young adult relationships wherein partners will attach to each other. Diagnostically. or if the parent was not available. Eventually. so. if you are wondering what planet I am from. and they develop competency skills. In this stage. At this point. the child will develop a personality “type” as an adaptation to what wasn’t received from the caretakers. in either adolescence or adulthood.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 23 and learn the intricacies and jealousies of having and maintaining friendships. and the reason for this is that many of us did not get our needs met in childhood—and we cannot seem to get past it! As hard as many of our parents tried. so now I don’t trust anyone to hold me!”). the child again develops a personality type.

that everything she does is for him and to make him feel special. In the concern stage. if the child is unable to make friends or has received poor modeling with regard to making friends. his lab to his home. if the child received no mirroring (was ignored) or poor mirroring (“You’re not a puppy—you’re a girl!” or “Boys don’t wear makeup. such as anxiety or mild depression. People fall in love with others who were wounded at the same place developmentally. he person who needs to have feelings heard inds someone who has diiculty listening to feelings. and lowers are not green—they are purple and red”) or shaming (“You can’t do anything right!”). and we do things my way” or “here is only one right way to do things”).24 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and typically they are socially isolated. and that he never notices. he Clinger is always screaming at him that she wants closeness. they have taken on opposite adaptations: he person who needs to be held inds the person who needs space. He responds to her screaming by not noticing. I think I want to be a doctor. so I’ll just stay here on my computer”) or a Caretaker (“I’ll take care of these people so they will like me”). so why even try? I’ve never been able to do anything right! You have to do this for me. and the Competitive person always falls for the Passive/Manipulator. Fuser/Isolator he Fuser might be a lamboyant type. these couples are severely impaired. but you are all out of the lines. it usually means that he sleeps on the couch. if the child received partial mirroring (“You colored that okay. so they can get what they did not get in childhood. he or she will become either a Loner (“I can’t ind friends. or maybe a hairdresser”) or Rigid (“I make the rules around here. he Rigid personality always falls for the Difuse. always calling attention to himself through dress. Because of the early nature of their wounding. only girls wear makeup!”). hrough their vulnerabilities. demands. According to Imago heory. he Isolator might be a successful “self-made” person. In the power and competence stage. I feel so dumb”). whom others might admire but soon realize they cannot . he Isolator always falls for the Fuser. When they inally decide to separate. And here’s the kicker: hese folks turn out to be the least likely to be able to give them what they need. a funny thing happens to these various personality types when they become adults: “Opposites” fall in love with each other! he Clinger always falls in love with the Avoidant person. Sample Couplings According to Personality Type Clinger/Avoider he Avoider might be a scientist who prefers computers to people. Last. Second Edition In the identity stage. the Loner always inds the Caretaker. for this stage as well as for the remaining stages. he or she will develop a personality that is Competitive (“I’m the best! Can’t you see that?”) or Passive/Manipulator (“I can’t do that. the personality will be either Difuse (“I don’t know what I want to do. clinicians might be more apt to see neurotic disorders. or a lawyer. or loud outbursts. Diagnostically.

Restoring Functions of the Self That Were Lost in the Socialization Process Astronomers and physicists are now contending that the universe had its beginning in a big bang that occurred 15 billion years ago. . acting. he Passive partner has diiculty with giving praise to the Competitive partner. and life is neither happy nor sad to them. And we express this energy in four ways: through our thinking. Isolators are actually the more self-centered ones. At the same time. Caretakers cannot get Loners to love them in the way they want to be loved. he Passive/Manipulator partner is one who does not want to be seen for fear of failure or humiliation. although Fusers may appear self-centered (because these types try to attract attention to themselves). which adds to the frustration of both. and it is her way. and sensing. no matter how hard they try. he Caretaker learns that the best way to get someone to like her is to take care of that person. In this couple. he Caretaker is attracted to the Loner because of the latter’s high-maintenance needs. which also adds to their struggle. because their work is the center of their concentration and their means of not feeling trapped. So it goes that if we are a part of the explosion. Fusers respond by screaming and by causing very emotional scenes in an attempt to get Isolators to notice their accomplishments or discoveries. according to them. Moreover. his partner is the one who tries to ind ways of making more money and commonly participates in sports or other activities with high visibility. Caretaker/Loner In general. In this pairing. Loners keep to themselves. this couple might be quiet and keep to themselves. feeling. III.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 25 get close to. the Competitive partner typically chooses a life’s work in which he can be seen and praised. whereas the other is having a hard time getting his feet of the ground on the job. Rigid/Diffuse he Rigid partner in this couple is irm and stubborn in what she believes: here is only one right way. Isolators can be very successful in business. his description can also it some alcoholic/codependent couples. then we are energy. Competitive/Passive Manipulator his pairing might be the dual-career couple in which one partner is doing fabulously well and moving up the career ladder. hey work hard. he Difuse partner has diiculty in making decisions and has few opinions other than the ones dictated by the Rigid partner. we are an actual part of that explosion. the Competitive partner doles out advice to the Passive/Manipulator partner. because they cannot see past their own actions. however.

Although this is not true across the board. “Don’t do!” hey hear.” Some people live in families in which they are told. What happens in the process of our socialization. others were told. “hat doesn’t hurt!” “Don’t trust your instincts!” “Use your head. he or she has the feeling that somehow it is wrong. “You can’t do anything right!” “Don’t do that!” “Everything you do. his dichotomy is most likely the result of environmental inluences as opposed to natural abilities. and our biggest clue to this is the person with whom we fall in love: We fall in love with those who . In our society. “Don’t think!” hey heard. Second Edition If we were “whole. “Don’t trust your body!” hey heard. According to Imago heory. When this person does something. you mess up!” “Girls don’t work!” or even “I’ll do that!” And they hear this all too often. Because of this continual pressure during their growth. he adaptation to this environment is that the person feels that he or she can’t do anything right. whereas women lose their thinking and acting expressions. Our environment brings about our adaptation. “You’re so stupid!” “hat’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!” “I’ll do the thinking around here!” or “Girls don’t think as well as boys!” he adaptation to this environment is to cut of “thinking” as an expression. when we come into this world we have the potential to be “whole”—to be able to think. Finally. All of us would think clearly. except when the body expresses symptoms such as in physical illness. On the coast of California. they are not whole. and in the process we lose two means of energy expression. they’ve been exposed to an almost constant wind of the ocean. “Don’t feel!” We heard. We would all know how we feel every moment. men tend to be thinker/doers and women tend to be feeler/sensers. is that we are usually cut of from two ways of expressing our energy. hese people are generally unsure of their thoughts. however. act. feel. In contrast. we adapted by losing the “ feeling” part of our energy expression or our “selves.26 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. We would also have an awareness of our bodies and trust our intuitive natures. many trees have branches on one side but not on the side where the wind hits them. Because they do not have branches on both sides. men tend to lose their feeling and sensing expressions. it doesn’t matter how you feel!” or “You’re not sick!” hese people cut of their “senses” as an energy expression.” we would have full access to these four areas of energy expression. and we’d have ready access to how we felt in the past. many even have learning diiculties. “Boys don’t cry!” “Keep your feelings to yourself!” or “You don’t feel that way!” When this happened. the trees on the clifs above the beach have adapted in an interesting way. Humans are similar to these trees in that we also adapt to our environment. others were told. but they have adapted in order to survive. All of their lives. Yet wholeness seems to be our number one quest. and we would be able to act on our thoughts to accomplish things. and sense. and so this person loses his or her ability to “act” as a means of energy expression. hey tend to know themselves from the neck up and are stif and unaware of the body’s messages. Many of us lived in families in which we were told.

it’s because the part of our partner that he or she uses as the main way of expression begins to “tickle” those parts that socialization told us to turn of. however. feeling. and our socialization message “Don’t feel!” becomes activated—and we have to turn it of ! We may begin to scream. for a period of time.” hat is. we tell everyone that we have found the greatest person in the world: “He’s so smart!” “She’s so sensual!” “She’s such a go-getter!” “I’ve never known a man who feels so deeply. at least they can take comfort in realizing that their frustrations do serve a purpose. when we ind them. If you can teach the couple about these struggles.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 27 possess our “lost self. We begin to resent or become frustrated by those parts of our partners that irst attracted us. something odd begins to happen. hey may have been turned of by our socialization. the old brain becomes stimulated by those parts our partners have that socialization taught us to turn of. or sensing—are still there. Couples are also expected to go through power struggles. We’ve found the part of ourselves that socialization told us to turn of. the whole process of struggling will not seem so unsafe. thinker/doers fall in love with feeler/sensers. most couples have no idea how to identify their power struggles and frustrations. in turn. For example.” And. light. our own feelings are stimulated. couples get stuck in their power struggles or end the relationship before the struggles can bring about growth. is supposed to end.” his is not because we now hate those parts. According to Imago heory. or submit! hose parts of ourselves that we do not primarily use—whether thinking. Just remember what our old brains do when they sense something is unsafe: Fight. let alone understand that they serve a purpose. hide. but they’ve been stimulated by our partners—and rightly so! We need those other parts of ourselves to become whole. we are like the trees on the California coast: surviving and adapting. Otherwise. Or we may escape the highly emotional situation. Actually. his stimulation is interpreted by the old brain as danger because we are involved in something our caretakers told us to avoid. Eventually. we feel whole. “He’s so smart!” becomes “He thinks too much and never pays attention to my feelings!” “I’ve never known a man who feels so deeply!” becomes “He’s always so depressed and never does anything about it!” “She’s such a go-getter!” becomes “She’s always on the run and never has time for the family. but this. Although their relationship may still be conlictual. Moreover. but excluding a part of ourselves. “Quit feeling!” in an efort to turn of this stimulation. play dead/freeze. acting. and thinker/sensers fall in love with feeler/doers. and it is supposed to end. Too often. their relationship will seem more normal to them. too. when our partner is feeling. thinker/feelers fall in love with doer/sensers. . Romantic love is supposed to happen. rather.

It’s how we are wired. It is important to use their commitment to your advantage. COUPLES DIALOGUE. Second Edition COMMITMENT. the couple needs to understand their vulnerabilities and the partners must be committed to restoring both personal wholeness and each other’s wholeness. Confrontational therapies may manage to coerce people into changing their behavior. “Nature is not concerned with your comfort. there must be a commitment to the process of therapy. and it keeps us from being eaten by our partners now. and stretching. even on those days when they’re considering ending the relationship. Imago herapy strongly contends that nothing changes if it is not safe. You see. SAFETY. and—rather than cooperating with the purpose of the relationship—we end up reinjuring our partners in an efort to defend ourselves. Couples who come to your oice most likely want the relationship to work—otherwise they’d be seeing a lawyer. It is only concerned with your growth. AND THE STRETCHING PRINCIPLE According to Imago heory. Hendrix likes to say. Couples also need to make a commitment to their own growth and to the process of the therapy. Imago herapy employs three principles in restoring wholeness: safety. he process of becoming whole is often painful. Imago herapy is more than a “couples therapy. but we can learn to work with it. Our old brain kept us from being eaten by tigers in the wild. we irst have to make it safe. Not surprisingly. To do this. to do so. And. and we have found that most couples who present to us are indeed committed to each other. but many times this is only a temporary ix. One caveat: If there is an active alcoholic or drug abuser in the relationship.” Because the path to wholeness is sometimes paved with pain. . Commitment he irst step toward accomplishing wholeness is commitment. Unless there is a history of abuse or the partners deinitely do not like each other. I believe the relationship is worth saving. we cannot change our brain. his is because when a situation is dangerous. that problem must be addressed before the therapy can work. Healing our relationships will require that we grasp the concept that our unconscious is using relationships to help us regain our sense of wholeness. the bottom line is this: Nature has put together two totally incompatible people—injured at the same place developmentally and missing opposite parts of themselves—in an efort to get their developmental needs met and to regain lost parts of themselves. most of us don’t know this secret.28 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Certainly. Dr. our old brain goes into its defense mode. a couple must be committed to the relationship in order to do this type of therapy. he trick is for us to cooperate. couples dialogue.” It is cooperating with the unconscious drive to restore individual wholeness.

the therapist. People who live in the wild have to be on the lookout for animals and other threats. he problem in contemporary society. the tribesman has to be ready to ight or run. early on in the therapy. hese two simple ideas. we can learn to use our logical brain to create images of safety. some say it is better to play dead and—in some cases—even better to submit or to hide. and I am feeling danger. We also tell couples that “frustrations in relationships are a little bit about now and a lot about the house we grew up in. Make it a point to acquire these tools for yourself and use them to help maintain . and empathizing as the main communication processes you will be teaching couples. If you ind this to be a challenge. when my wife and I are doing this work. One way is within ourselves. We are very much that way ourselves. I suggest the following: Find a safe place within yourself from which you can work.” his does not ignore the fact that partners frustrate each other and have to make changes. by means of evoking mental images that we are safe. I will mentally transport myself to my grandmother’s kitchen. Another way to create safety within is to always remember to “stay with the process. you are not alone! We are certainly not immune to feeling danger. Typically. at the same time. yet. you will learn about mirroring. Now. which is probably a relex left over from having once lived in the wild. If a dog senses you are afraid of him. to help a couple learn to stay out of their old-brain responses. In a similar vein. his is why you will need to acknowledge or validate to yourself the fact that helping the couple to change their responses is a diicult undertaking for you or for any therapist. Still. At the slightest hint of danger. I will usually tell them that mine is my Italian grandmother’s kitchen. begin to soothe the old brain so that fewer impulsive responses take place. In other words. we tell couples to ind a place in their minds—real or imagined—where they can go to feel safe. where there were always a lot of people and children were especially treasured. we must be careful to stay out of their—and our own—old-brain responses. the therapist. therefore. as you create safety and guide couples through the process. I am fully with my wife and listening to what she has to say. to create a safe environment for you. remember that the conlict and frustration in the session have very little to do with you but more to do with what has been going on for some time in the couple’s relationship. after all.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 29 Safety We can create safety in two ways. is that nature forgot to turn of the relex mechanism. old habits die hard. validating. where we are seldom confronted with this kind of danger. imaging a safe place and realizing that frustrations have roots in earlier times. A big part of establishing safety will lie with you. Our old brains are very trigger-happy. especially if we feel we have lost control of the session. You should be prepared for couples to slip back into old-brain responses many times. especially if conlict upsets you. if you ever come face-to-face with a bear.” In this book. Also. it is quite common for that dog to become frightened and bite you. but it lets them know that the intensity of the frustration may have its roots in an earlier time in their lives.

Couples Dialogue teaches couples that their thoughts and beliefs do not have to be symbiotic to be valid. couples can do the work they have come to do. It also adds the dimension of fully understanding that the other person has a valid point or feeling: that the other person’s reality is real to him or her and does not have to be blended with that of the listener or compromised. “Together. It is. Couples Dialogue helps to fulill this requirement. Couples Dialogue is the key to understanding. To many. If a couple leaves your oice learning nothing else. they will grasp the idea behind the process all the more quickly. understanding. For instance. dialogue is primordial. And this is possible through a principle called stretching. In other words. prolonged association between two or more organisms of diferent species that may. he work not only improves the relationship but also cooperates with the unconscious purpose of the relationship.” hat stopped being funny to me when I realized that this outlook was the underlying source for problems in marriages. Second Edition control of the sessions and to create safety with the couples. he American Heritage Electronic Dictionary (1992) deines symbiosis as “[a] close. healing. you say. thus avoiding danger. and passion in a way that beneits the other. in a sense. it is becoming what you think you are not. they should learn the process of Couples Dialogue. at long last. “I don’t feel. We need to know that we make sense. becoming what you are not. The Stretching Principle Once you have created safety and taught couples dialogue. mirror. Stretching is one of the most diicult aspects of Imago herapy. Couples Dialogue will sound like other communication tools they have learned—active listening or parroting.” I used to joke about some couples. Most couples live in a symbiotic state. Better yet. if a couple should confront you. Humans have a basic need to know that they are heard and understood. are acknowledged as having feelings—that we exist. validate. Couples Dialogue is more than fully listening. because what you are “stretching” into are the lost parts of yourself or those parts that were turned of in your childhood. and empathize with their concerns. they make one good person. We have lived under the theory that the two shall become one. helping each partner complete childhood development and. and creating interdependent relationships. the belief that promotes growth is that the two shall remain two and get together often to talk in dialogue in order to create closeness. he diference between this and other tools is the paradigm in which the therapist will package it. become whole. Stretching goes against the messages you received way back then. However.” . If you use the tools you have given them. Couples Dialogue In Imago herapy.30 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. but does not necessarily beneit the other. If. for example.

In a Behavior Change Request.” Unfortunately. To create safety. I need you to listen and to validate that I have had a hard day and to take a guess at how I might be feeling. Bill immediately responded to her by saying. thinking. the most dreaded of places: our partners! Our partners have been screaming at us from the place in which we need to grow. who did not want to hear that.” he Behavior Change Request tells one partner what it is that the other partner needs in order to feel fully heard and understood. Linda told Bill about all the ights. however. there is a problem: We haven’t been listening. such as how the kids have been driving me crazy. or behavior. As we say in this work. Behavior Change Requests form what is called a blueprint for growth. but it is phrased in a manner that the receiving partner can hear and respond to. Here is a common question: If the part is “lost. however. “When I am talking about things that are important to me. Grouped together. and the way to reclaim this part is through stretching. hey’ve been expressing it as a frustration: “Don’t you have any feelings?” “Are you stupid or something?” “You can’t do anything right!” And although such statements actually reinjure us. “Your partner has the blueprint for your growth. what the sending partner is in need of is always the thing that is most diicult for the other to give: hat need is requesting something of the receiving partner’s “lost” part. “Why don’t you just put them in their room and make them clean up their own mess?” Linda. Using the example above. because you have a whole part of your brain—the mammalian brain—that is dedicated to feelings. and they’ve been saying it in a way that we cannot even hear. spills. You may not be connected to these feelings because of the way you were socialized. “What do you think I am—stupid? You stay with these kids all day and see what it’s . his blueprint is the way for one partner to tell the other exactly how to reclaim those parts that were turned of either in childhood or because of societal expectations. a typical scene might look like this: Bill came home after a long day at work to ind Linda overwhelmed by the children. at the same time. Behavior Change Requests A Behavior Change Request is one partner’s (the sender’s) detailed request for a change in the other’s (the receiver’s) behavior. but the capacity is there. know the area in which they have to grow in order to become whole. which then becomes a very speciic Behavior Change Request: for example. he request for change is based on the sender’s frustrations in the relationship. a frustration (“Don’t you have any feelings?”) becomes a desire (“I need your feelings”).Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 31 that’s not a true statement. couples need a better way to state their frustrations so their partners can hear their needs and. and arguments of the day. they also tell us precisely where we need to grow—feelings. many would say. yelled. Imago herapy uses Behavior Change Requests to accomplish this.” how do you know where to ind it—or even know what you are looking for? he answer is found in the most unlikely and.

. “he partner has the blueprint for growth. and to take a guess at what I may be feeling. and he has a hard time with feelings. because he is committed to the process of Imago herapy and understands its importance to his partner as well as the necessity of reclaiming his own lost parts. Nevertheless. and ask. He would rather take action. to validate that I am having the feelings I describe. give me a hug.” “She . Although Bill was able to hear this. “I can see that you have been having a very diicult day. hus. .” REIMAGING YOUR PARTNER How can someone possibly follow this blueprint for change if he or she is angry at a partner? Imago ofers two ways of dealing with this dilemma. He considers himself a “take-charge” kind of guy. Remember. and empathizing was the irst step in Bill’s process of reclaiming his feelings. they would befriend them. I would like you to do this for 15 minutes. Couples are quite often guilty of “slaughtering” each other.” From this point on. they had to learn to visualize those people as nonhumans. . hey irst dehumanize each other with pronouns: “You always . What they came up with gave birth to one of their words for love: agape. In the therapy. we go back to the Greeks for the basics of reimaging. Again.” Linda mapped out the stretch for Bill in the Behavior Change Request. their shouting match accelerated.32 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. It was diicult for Bill. . he combination of listening. he stated how diicult it was going to be for him. and that’s just what Linda needed—his feeling. I would like you to come to me. and it becomes easier for us to kill them. We’ve seen this in everyday life with the rampant use of derogatory terms and negative stereotyping. His lost part was his feeling. “I was just ofering you some advice. hey found that in order for people to be able to slaughter other people.” “He never . hey were tired of ighting and wanted to forge a permanent peace. for example. she made that known to him in her Behavior Change Request: When you come home from the oice. Instead of killing those who entered their land. When we group together a race or nation or religion using a derogatory phrase. he Greeks decided to change this way of thinking. validating. the irst of which is reimaging. he decides to make the “stretch. but Linda had given him the way. the word agape was coined. we dehumanize them.” Agape was a transformative love that made an enemy an ally. meaning.” I would like you to do this three times a week. “When you are in my territory. Second Edition like!” Bill then retorted. and then I want you to say to me. I will make you safe. he great Greek thinkers wanted to ind a way to end wars. Bill was an action person. “How was your day?” I would like you to mirror what I say.

and it does so through the Container Process. hey need to begin to see each other as allies in growth rather than as enemies in a relationship. after all. and those who do express anger tend to have a partner who responds by freezing. Again. you wouldn’t go and kick the injured person. is a survival mechanism or a ight response from the reptilian brain. you would provide help and “feel” the hurt. rather than to view their relationship as a mistake. he Container. When partners really see each other’s pain. and no one will get killed as they explore what the tension is all about. they have to be like the Greeks and reimage each other. In relationships. hey need to see that they have been brought together for a purpose. Rage may best be described as stored or unheard anger. Whether the anger goes unexpressed or is expressed through yelling. it was a resource when we needed it.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 33 is . . intense anger is usually either expressed loudly or not expressed at all. Anger is not something that we can lose or take away from people. those who do not express anger have a partner who expresses frustration about that very lack of expression—that the partner does not tell what he or she feels. After all. and understood. hese are explained at length later in this book. but their basic purpose is to help couples see what we stated earlier: that frustrations in marriage are a little bit about now and a lot about the house they grew up in. which is described in detail in chapter 9 (Session Six). It is also a feeling from the mammalian brain. partners do not hear each other. and this pent-up anger turns to rage. . is basically a structured way to express anger and rage in a relationship. on the other hand. hese tools also enable partners to view the hurt that underlies each other’s behavior and allow them to develop empathy for each other. it is so structured that one partner must ask the other for an appointment in order to use the Container—and thus express rage. Imago herapy employs two very speciic tools to help partners reimage each other: the Holding Exercise and the Parent–Child Dialogue. In fact. he expression of anger usually calls up the reptilian-brain response. Anger. Quite commonly. validated. In order to interrupt this pattern. the best way to deal with anger and rage is to learn to cooperate with it. his does not mean they won’t feel tension—after all. the “kill” becomes easier. THE CONTAINER PROCESS he second way to deal with anger is with the Container Process. But it does mean that they will be safe.” By dehumanizing each other. . or submitting. if you saw a car hit somebody. they can never view each other in the same way again. Imago herapy makes anger and rage safe so that the angry partner can be heard. Ask for an appointment? Shouldn’t angry feelings be spontaneous? he answer is “No!” Spontaneous expressions of anger or criticism elicit immediate responses of defensiveness from the old brain. the Greeks certainly must have tensed up when others entered their territory. hiding.

we emerge stronger and closer to wholeness. When couples are able to get to the pain that underlies their frustration. Like Psyche’s trying journey. Psyche was able to do it with the support of her partner. and push through the hurt. that person is ready for the range of possible responses and so will be pleased if you spare some change but won’t pester you if don’t. his woman appeared to be approaching me in the same way others had in the past. CUPID AND PSYCHE REVISITED We started this chapter on Basic Imago heory and herapy with the Greek mythology story of Cupid and Psyche. But what about love? If we are saying that romantic love is a no-growth kind of love that is supposed to end. however. she screamed at the top of her lungs. his is precisely what we ask of couples when they wish to express anger: to give adequate warning to enable their partners to irst ind their safe place. feel heard. As farfetched as this may sound. he Container Process gives couples a structured seven-step process to create safety. and I wasn’t alarmed.34 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. As a result. a sense of despair sets in. he Greeks have at . they seem to be able to cover more ground. and the interactions become more productive. express rage. I came upon a homeless woman. In many cases. referring to it as a basic outline for Imago heory. When we inally do. the journey to wholeness (looking at our wounds and stretching into our lost selves) is diicult and painful. and we are left looking for the love we once had. this process fosters passion. because we have not really seen him or her. Cupid. When we cannot get romantic love back. Imago herapy gives couples the tools they need to help each other make that journey and return safely. “Pleeeeeease!” his startled me so greatly that my reaction was to run away from her. romantic love always begins a relationship. had that woman come to me and said. “I need to scream. When partners are able to do this for each other. we do not know who our real lover is. they can usually get through the anger and reach the hurt underneath. and we either give up or struggle constantly. Second Edition Have you ever been startled by a scream? One day. what kind of love can we hope for? Our English language has limited us to only one word for it. When we are able to make the journey into our “underworld” and do so with our lover’s help. Now I’d walked those streets often enough to know that if a homeless person is asking for money. Her spontaneous scream brought out my light response. One hope is to go with Nature and take on the task of becoming whole through our partner. as I was walking down a street in New York. who was working alongside her to help make her journey safe. But suddenly. As was the case with our mythical couple. but I may have been able to calm myself enough to know that I was safe and actually have agreed to listen to her. they allow their partners to fully hear the anger that they wish and need to express. Could you possibly give me a moment to scream?” I would have thought her weird. our magic kingdom seems to suddenly disappear.

We now know from couples who have made the journey through to the end that this third type of love. empathetic communication. agape. Following their demanding journey to be together at last. nondefensive relating. is better and even more intense than romantic love. or brotherly love.Introduction to Imago Relationship Theory and Therapy • 35 least three: eros. Philia is the payof for toughing out the treacherous journey—and it’s well worth the trip! he Greeks knew this. hey report a sense of desireless valuing. and joy. . philia. and the highest form of love. a transformative love. hey named her Pleasure. philia. too. and they feel fully alive. Psyche and Cupid gave birth to a daughter. making an enemy an ally. the initial romantic love.


many people living in private dungeons today. “Does anybody hear me? Is there somebody there? Can anyone hear me?” And inally one day he hears some faint tapping that spells out “Yes. 224) 37 . Freedom to Learn (1969. Carl Rogers. somebody heard me. It is as though he were saying.” By that simple response he is released from his loneliness.” In such a moment I have had the fantasy of a prisoner in a dungeon tapping out day after day a Morse code message.3 COUPLES DIALOGUE The Essential Skill One thing I have come to look upon as almost universal is that when a person realizes he has been deeply heard. here are many. I think in some real sense he is weeping for joy. Somebody knows what it is like to be me. p. where you have to listen very sharply to hear the faint message from the dungeon. “hank God. he has become a human being again. there is a moistness in his eyes. people who give no evidence of it whatever on the outside.

Together. he second moniker is more descriptive of what we ask couples to do. Outcome depends modestly on what technique or model a therapist uses but relies heavily on the warmth. COUPLES DIALOGUE To make this journey. they can do this within the relationship. we call this process the Couples Dialogue or Intentional Dialogue. and I got held up there for 2 hours. nonjudgmental attitude. being heard and understood truly sets us free from our own world. and lets us know that the thoughts and feelings we are having on the inside can make sense to others and can be validated by someone on the outside. he or she feels both connected and diferentiated. Alan: Yeah. A diatribe occurs when partners trying to communicate are observed to be thinking of how they will respond in order to defend themselves or their stance. hese steps will be taken with the person whom they have chosen to make the journey with them: their life partner. this is far diferent from what commonly occurs in couples who usually communicate in what is called a diatribe. did you hear what I said? Lisa: You never listen to me. and you don’t care! . However. I had a school meeting this morning. and empathy of the therapist. What you will be doing over the course of this therapy is teaching couples what therapists have known all along and what makes the therapeutic relationship so important: If you truly hear a person. And this time. so I missed my lunch with Mom. hen I had to drive over to that client and drop of the proposal. although being validated by someone puts us in connection with that person.38 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. the couple irst needs a dialogue process. In Imago herapy. the relationship will not be with someone found in a phone book or who was referred by a friend or who was assigned by a case manager. Paradoxically. I’m really tired. the couple begins a process of collaborative self-development. Like the therapeutic relationship. change behaviors. Most important. because they will intentionally and consciously listen to their partners.” hese partners will be more inclined to take chances. Did you see that bill for the lawn service? Lisa: Did you hear what I said? Alan: Yes. Research conducted on the therapeutic process by Lambert (1992) indicates that the therapeutic relationship contributes 30% to the outcome in psychotherapy. Such action immediately invalidates what their partners said just before their response and creates unsafe communication. trustworthiness. I hate hectic days like this. pursue goals. at the same time it sets us apart. A typical diatribe might go like this: Lisa: What a day! I’m so tired. It puts us in relationship with another. and Lila is not doing so well in her reading. and develop a sense of self. couples who take the time to understand one another can help each other to step out of the “dungeon. Second Edition Carl Rogers’s words still resonate. it diferentiates us.

When a person feels understood. Some may even complain that it seems fake when they do it. his is a literal exchange that also prevents the receiver from responding with an immediate defensive answer. It is perfectly appropriate for the receiver to ask the sender to repeat the statement. too. Only after a period of awkward practice does walking become integrated. It allows for two realities. I’ve got a lot to do. so it is essential that it be done accurately. Mirroring is an important part of establishing contact between sender and receiver. Lisa and Alan are not listening to each other.Couples Dialogue • 39 Alan: I’m tired. I’m near exhaustion. his part of the process establishes contact and lets the sending partner know that he or she was heard. or they may do things without asking for help because they fear the response. the payof for the awkward period of dialogue is a couple who understand and appreciate each other. through the dialogue process. too. Couples in a power struggle look for ways to defend their position and typically feel frustrated and distant afterwards. and you’ll ind that it’s really more of a controlled fall. has the receiving partner repeating back to the sending partner what was said—not what he or she thought was said or what he or she wanted to be said. When the couple irst learns it. But this will pass. At the same time. Alan: I do a lot around here. But in order to tread into these uncharted territories. Watch a one-year-old child walk. albeit diicult. Likewise. and this sets up a power struggle. his occurs through a complete. mirroring. understanding by one partner of the needs of the other. his may look like diferentiation because they are handling things on their own. and the dialogue will become more natural and luid. and empathizing. When. Couples Dialogue allows the receiver of the statement to hear it without feeling as if he or she has to agree or become symbiotic with the other. the idea is to get the message across. because he or she has to concentrate and listen intentionally to fully hear what is being said. hey may become discouraged and begin to keep their feelings to themselves. and all you’re concerned about is the bill for the lawn service. couples are able to understand that there are two realities. Couples Dialogue is a three-part process consisting of mirroring. I can’t stop what I’m doing to talk about that. Lisa: And I’ve done a lot. Mirroring he irst step of the dialogue process. he or she can redirect the energy used to hold onto his or her position to move toward the more useful purpose of developing a sense of self. . but what the sender actually said. couples need the safety of the Couples Dialogue process. it is very structured and may seem rote. partners are able to facilitate each other’s growth. validating. Couples Dialogue allows the sender of a statement to feel fully heard and understood. but it is really distance.

validation sets the receiver apart in having to integrate the anxiety both partners experience as a result of the sending partner not feeling. Validation can be momentary. hen it will be the receiving partner’s turn to be the sender in the dialogue process.40 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. three. lonely. after all. a guess and an attempt at connection through empathy. you will show how the receiving partner intentionally mirrors. he or she can usually understand that the partner will have feelings about what was said. Second Edition Validating Once the receiver has accurately mirrored the partner. Some may describe it as a small “aha!” experience. validation breaks the symbiotic thought and creates a healthy diferentiation through relationship. In other words. For the receiving partner to empathize. thinking. to understand that the other has a valid point. Validation is a way of saying. Quite often a person is able to have two.or herself into the thoughts of the other and understand the sense of the partner’s point of view. “Your ideas make sense from your point of view. without defending oneself. saying what each has to say by sentence or paragraph. he or she can start over by mirroring the correction the partner gives and can attempt to understand these feelings through the dialogue process. It is listening long enough. there are no wrong moves. and scared. If the receiver is able to stay in the process.” In other words. Empathizing If the receiver can validate the partner. Rather than teaching the partners to take turns. If partners can endure their anxieties. and empathizes with the sending partner until the sending partner feels fully heard. neither of which is wrong. “If I could look at things through your eyes. but he or she is asked to hold these thoughts and anxieties until the sending partner feels fully heard and understood. things will crop up during this process that the receiver will want to defend. I could see how you would see it that way. he or she merely needs to guess what the sending partner may be feeling. he personhood of each individual in the relationship is relected in his or her unique view.” Validation is a very important part of the dialogue process. At the same time. validates. or believing the same things. it is not losing one’s “self’’ to the other. Even contradictory feelings are noticed. validation means. If the receiver missed the feelings of the partner. Validation is not the same as agreement. Of course. he receiving partner may say something like “I can imagine that might make you feel sad. which I cannot. but if I could.” he receiving partner may have guessed incorrectly. he or she then validates what the partner said.” It asks the receiver to momentarily place him. At the same time. and it is the component that makes the process diferent from “active listening. although agreement may occur. or more feelings at the same time. Validation allows for two points of view. Dialogue occurs in blocks. but this was. over time they will reach a new level of understanding of and empathy for the . his brings us to the third part of the dialogue process: empathizing.

here were constant misunderstandings and hurt feelings. . hey found they had little time for each other as they took care of their young children and built their business. he became more engaged as he saw that their communication was improving and that the processes were helping him become more responsive to Linda. anxious. he receivers will also ind that the anxiety of the process becomes tolerable. hurtful ways of communicating. Invariably they come back to Couples Dialogue when they realize that diatribe and unsafe communication get them nowhere. and worried that something happened. whereas Couples Dialogue moves them along. Initially. which caused them to seek ways to avoid each other. I was feeling really angry. and this promotes growth. ages 8 and 6. Couples Dialogue promotes this growth. you will be introduced to couples who are just learning the process of Couples Dialogue. To give you an idea of the end result. Prior to the therapy. If a couple falls out of the dialogue process when they are discussing diicult issues. Mike and Linda were frustrated with the way their marriage was going. To consciously and intentionally participate in the dialogue process is to strive for understanding the other. it becomes easier and more luid. hey were tired most days and had little time for afection. their dialogues sound like this: Mike: I need to talk to you. Mike: It’s 11:30 and I thought you were going to be back at 11:00.Couples Dialogue • 41 signiicant other. if practiced regularly. Frustration is growth trying to happen. and again produces less anxiety. Okay. and a 3-year-old daughter. However. hey made a commitment to learn the processes and to practice as often as they could—despite their busy schedules. give me one minute. In the four years since their therapy sessions. Staying in the process is everything in this work. they’ve often reverted to talking in diatribes. Can you get safe? Linda: Yeah. . . I can hear you now. Dialogue is an evolving process for the couple. . they will revert to old. Now. I would like to start with a case excerpt from a couple who have been using the process for several years. CASE STUDY: MIKE AND LINDA hroughout this book. hey entered therapy four years ago and spent 10 sessions learning the dialogue process and the other processes that will be described herein. which will allow them to listen to their partner for longer periods of time in the future. Mike and Linda have been married for 12 years and have two sons. hey decided to enter therapy out of concern for what this atmosphere was doing to their children. the work was diicult for them because of their time pressures and because of Mike’s skepticism about the processes—especially when it came to how his childhood played into his present marriage.

You were mad that I didn’t call you and you said that feels disrespectful. and that felt disrespectful. It felt disrespectful to me. worried. It was really scary. Second Edition Linda: (mirroring) If I got that right. hey didn’t understand how upset you were. that makes sense to me. if I’m getting this. And they didn’t understand why I felt so upset. Linda: (mirroring) So. because it reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents would go out and leave me in charge of my sisters. Did I get that? . your world would come to an end. if I’m getting this right. It seems like if something happened to me.42 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. If I let myself think about and feel this. it really scares you when I’m late and don’t call. I felt really mad that you didn’t call me to let me know that you’d be late. It was really unfair and disrespectful that they wouldn’t call me when they were late. You needed to know that they were alright. Linda: (validating and empathizing) Well. it feels really scary. and that’s why this is so scary to me. Linda: Is there more? Mike: I know I get angrier than most would about this. Did I get that? Mike: Yes. Mike: Yeah. Did I get that? Mike: Yes. worried. Linda: (mirroring) So if I’m getting this. you thought that I was going to be back at 11:00 and it is now 11:30. and I used to scream like a nut when you were late. and scared. Did I get that? Mike: Yes. it feels like my world would end if something were to happen to you. because I was late and you were wondering what happened. really anxious and scared. I need to know that you are alright. you are remembering how scared you were when your parents came home late and didn’t call. and anxious that something happened. you said that you’ve been pacing and feeling angry for the past 30 minutes. When I don’t call when I’m going to be late. Linda: (mirroring) So. You felt like something might have happened to them and that you would be put permanently in charge and that scared you. I can imagine that you would feel angry. It’s just like I felt when I didn’t know if my parents were coming back. because it reminds you of when you were a kid and your parents would put you in charge and they’d be late and not call. I can understand how you would wonder why I didn’t call you and that it felt disrespectful. You were feeling angry. and I’d get worried that something had happened to them and that I would be in charge forever. but what I really want you to get is how scary it is for me when you are late. anxious. hey’d always come back late and never call me. Linda: Is there more? Mike: I found myself pacing and being really angry at you for the past 30 minutes.

I have a Behavior Change Request if you’re able to listen to it. you have to recognize the underlying causes of frustrations. I would like for you to do this 60 percent of the time you are late. Mike: Okay. Mike and Linda did not come to this calm way of listening to each other over night. Frustrations are not necessarily fueled by problems or behaviors. negative. Linda: I can hear that now. hey experienced many volatile times in their marriage. Mike: Yes. Linda was able to listen to Mike and hold her anxiety until they could create a safe place and time for her to be mirrored and validated. Linda undoubtedly needs to talk about how Mike’s need to know her whereabouts taps into her memories of her parents planning her days and telling her with whom she could be friends. or frustrated—I’d like to be able to talk about it briely on the phone using Couples Dialogue. thanks. you’d like for me to call you at least 10 minutes before my scheduled time home. I can imagine this would make you feel angry. they are able to create a safe space to hear each other. hanks. If you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late. you would like to take a minute and have me use dialogue to understand that feeling. Linda: (validating and empathizing) It really makes sense to me that you’d be scared when I am late. Linda’s own legacy from childhood would have immediately been ignited because Mike’s urging her to call when she’s late would trigger her feeling of being smothered. disrespected. if Mike felt safe. Prior to learning Couples Dialogue. THE GREMLINS UNDER THE BEHAVIOR To understand why Couples Dialogue works. and yet they didn’t show you respect when they were late or acknowledge that you had feelings about the responsibility you had. you did. but by developmental lags and adaptations that make the . or in a couple of days when they could schedule another dialogue session. a conversation like this would have erupted into a major ight. I would like you to call me 10 minutes before your expected time home. Did I get that? Mike: Yes. and resentful that they did not take you seriously. If you are having a feeling about my being late. Linda: (mirroring) So if I am getting this. because you felt so scared when your parents did this to you when you were a kid. hat time could be now. 60 percent of the time that I know I’m going to be more than 15 minutes late. hrough their practice and failures in learning the dialogue process.Couples Dialogue • 43 Mike: You did. If I’m having a feeling about it—angry. But for now. hey depended on you at a young age. which stems from having grown up with intrusive parents and siblings.

the child is unable to form an identity. although they may occur. and much of this support occurs through the dialogue process between parent and child. Self-absorption is what we typically do when we are in pain. Pine. they deal with both the problem and the underlying fear. Caretaker behavior toward the child at these touchpoints will determine how successful the child’s emergence into that stage will be. they can diferentiate and form an identity. most people are not raised by aware. but the fear still remains. provided they receive praise. Once children pass through these two stages. hey can become competent in the fourth stage. and Bergman (1975). hese adaptations. good parenting skills—supports these developmental impulses. but suddenly you cut your foot on a sharp rock. the vista or your painful foot? For most people. he view is overwhelming. Berry Brazelton (1992) likes to call them “touchpoints. when children are unable to get past their natural developmental impulse. children need support to explore and to diferentiate. the painful foot becomes most relevant and the views (and other people) become secondary. However. Experience tells us that most parents probably did not receive what they needed somewhere in their own childhood and are unaware of the efect their upbringing has on their parenting skills. he vulnerability creates self-absorption. You become self-absorbed. and yet they still desire to have this . inluenced by Erikson (1959) and Mahler. Parental awareness of self as well as child—indeed. the work you are doing with the couple. Even with the beautiful view. If attachments are disrupted and exploration/diferentiation issues are not supported. For others. he speciic problem may be resolved. Developmental stages are built-in impulses of the psyche. is about developmental growth. his will allow them to form intimate relationships as adolescents. Couples Dialogue is not just about problem solving or insight. whereas in the second stage. parents. When couples are able to grow developmentally. they develop a lag. feel competent. a developmental vulnerability occurs that results in the child getting stuck in a symbiotic stage of development. though necessary for survival. In the irst stage. Not getting what you need at a developmental stage calls for an adaptation to compensate. attachment. you hope that they’ll become symbiotic with your needs. For some couples we know that a partner’s chronic lateness is sometimes annoying but not grounds for a ight. exploration. Imagine yourself on a tall mountain peak with a beautiful vista. or express concern for others in a full way. Pediatrician T. in the third stage if they receive mirroring.” hese impulses or touchpoints are the times in a developing child’s life when the child will enter into the next level of development. And who can blame you? According to Imago heory. Finally. it is a very big issue that often results in disillusionment. usually keep parents from later giving their own children what they need to fully develop—encouraging the developmental impulses. or conscious. which includes Couples Dialogue. All you want is for others to see that you need help. children can develop concern for others in the ifth stage if they receive support from friends and family. or self. infants need someone to attach to. Second Edition behaviors very important.44 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and feelings of abandonment. anger. What becomes the focus of your thoughts.

Subconsciously. two hungry dogs.” as you only think about your needs. It is when a person can transcend his or her “self” and personal pain enough to listen to the thoughts and feelings . herefore. isolated. conformists. Although the research shows that this approach does work. Validation is a way of creating equality. but they share one common theme: heir developmental needs could not be fully met. Of course. Couples therapy has traditionally dealt with this through negotiation or behavior change—having both partners give in a little or having one partner give up his or her goal of being the one. In more traditional therapy—for example. As my wife likes to say about us. dizzy. Rather than fully appreciating the wonders of the world.” When this happens. it does not address the underlying issue of the unmet developmental needs that cause symbiosis and self-absorption. In essence. hey are children of all sizes. Most will not be thought of as odd or diferent or in need of any help. WHAT DOES COUPLES DIALOGUE DO? Basically. they will not necessarily stand out in the crowd. and empathy is a means of being able to transcend the self momentarily and become involved in the other. it is almost impossible to fully meet the needs of any child. and thus the power struggle begins. controlling. they begin to pay attention to their own pain of not being able to complete their development. “One bone. they will marry others who are equally self-absorbed because their vulnerabilities and adaptations will match. the three-part dialogue process contributes to connection and diferentiation. you lose the awareness of the “otherness of the other. adults. the transmission has been stopped. hoping that others will see things through their eyes. these are children who will grow up to be us. In other words. while the developmental engine is still running. caretakers. and colors. heir motto for marriage becomes “You and I are one—and I am the one.” he biggest problem with this motto is that both partners are saying. or unsure. competitive. a cognitive type—they might be told that their thinking is lawed and they need to change the way they think about their problems.Couples Dialogue • 45 impulse satisied. and other signiicant people in their lives as clingy. And when these children grow up. Couples Dialogue is able to get to these deeper issues and allow the couple to be emotionally open to each other in a safer and healthier way.” and this is where conlicts and impasses occur. Mirroring is a way of making contact. Dealing with a power struggle marked by self-absorption is the state that most couples present in therapy. When these children grow up. they will hope their partner will meet the needs that their parents were unable to. hey begin to adapt and to make up their own way of living. hey may be described by parents. or as loners. hey will both want you to see their point. or rebels. “I am the one. at least for a short period of time. such children have a diicult time moving forward—learning the skills necessary for developing a complete self. shapes.

the husband will tell you that his wife does not understand him or his point of view. He might tell you that she spends a lot of time on the phone or is more concerned about the children than about what he has to say. hat’s what I do. And although you will come across some couples who do not talk. he other side of the line is felt as distant—a lack of connection permeates this interaction. Judy: I’m really upset about losing that contract at work. you are really upset about losing that contract at work. Jef: I really need to know because there is a softball game scheduled on that Saturday. I’m sure you will get over it. Is there more? . Judy: I’m really upset about losing that contract at work. the act becomes healing. well. Have you thought about what we are going to do about the trip next week? Judy: I should have been prepared. One side of the line is felt as too close—a smothering feeling permeates the interaction. Judy: I’m really upset about losing that contract at work. and it really makes the letdown easier. Couples Dialogue Fosters “Connection” he most common complaint that a couples therapist working with a new couple is likely to hear is “We just don’t communicate. Jef: Yeah. you are just as likely to meet partners who talk endlessly. You should have been prepared for it. What might be a more accurate phrase for many couples is “We just don’t connect. Second Edition of the other that he or she can fully connect with that person. When the other person reciprocates. but it is diferent when you inally hear it. And she will tell you that he watches too much TV or reads the newspaper and does not listen to her.” Connecting with another person is a ine line. You should try it. each defending a particular point of view and struggling to be heard. Couples Dialogue seems to straddle the line—connection and interest in the other permeate these interactions.” For example. so you don’t get so freaked out. Judy: Yeah. but it really is diferent when you hear it.46 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Jef: I don’t know why. Jef: You knew that would probably happen. he following discussion considers the four areas in which Couples Dialogue works simultaneously. Jef: So if I am hearing you correctly.

Jef: So you are saying you should expect this news and prepare yourself because that is the nature of your business. You are also aware that the news of the inal disposition of the contract always brings about some intense feelings for you. hat’s your problem. he partner who speaks and listens with ample emotion and little logic will have the opposite way of listening: “Oh. but basically they feel cut of or separated from the other. I can see you feel that way. he or she is essentially saying. it’s not me. “I can understand you feel that way [afective surrender]. Jordan (1990) states that empathy is a two-part process that consists of afective surrender and cognitive structure. when the receiving partner is expressing empathy. at least briely. in a diatribe partners are so tuned into their own feelings that they miss the fact that the other person even has feelings. they probably understand that the sender is feeling something about what was said. I can understand that. but I can see you feel that way [afective surrender]. hose who are logically minded in their communication will essentially be saying. hey become connected through an understanding by the other.Couples Dialogue • 47 Judy: I should prepare myself for these letdowns because there is always a chance that you can lose these things. you will notice that they are using only half of the formula.” hey have lots of cognitive structure and little afective surrender. shocked. that’s terrible. It lets them know that what was heard by the receiver was what was actually said. I imagine you feel sad. It makes sense that bad news brings out bad feelings. they create a sense of instability in the sending partner. Validation lets the senders know that they make at least some sense to the receiver and that they are not “crazy. and tired from all the work you put into this project and then inding out you were turned down. At the same time. the other person becomes a part of his or her world. It’s not me [cognitive structure].” When receiving partners cut of the sending partners or don’t take the time to make sense of the partner’s message. Senders may feel crazy.” When couples are having diiculty hearing each other. In other words. I can really see you feel that way. When a person is told that he or she makes sense. Judy: Yes. Typically. Validation allows the sending partner to feel connected through the act of making sense to the other. I’m not having that problem. It lets them know that there were no distractions or distortions in their words and that their partner at least heard the message. Dialogue assures connection at the right distance. he act of guessing what the sender may be feeling is another way of promoting connection. It just seems worse when you hear the inal news. “It’s not me. When receivers validate. Now . it keeps the receiving partner from going into a defensive mode and from attempting to invalidate what the sender said in an attempt to win an argument or prevent diferentiation. he process of mirroring lets the sending partners know that they were heard by the receiving partners because they hear back their own words. you got it. his is certainly understandable given how most couples talk and listen to each other.

be able to return to their selves through the continuation of the structured process of Couples Dialogue. It is being able to love beyond what one partner can do for the other.” here is little cognitive structure to help them diferentiate themselves from the other. Couples who live parallel lives and who have their own friends and activities are diferentiated. It fosters diferentiation with integrity. they have to experience and understand the feelings of the other.48 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Validation is a cognitive and afective process that tells senders that they make sense. It is an evolved diferentiation that occurs on a spiritual level. while the receiving partner remains who he is. hese partners realize that it is the unrealistic mental picture of the signiicant other that they’ve been carrying around all these years that has been causing a lot of trouble. In order for receivers to step out of the feelings momentarily. his is a level of love that simply asks. But none of these couples are in a relationship with each other. An even bolder deinition of diferentiation with integrity is an ability to stay in the relationship even though the prints don’t match. he therapist should strive for this way of connecting in Couples Dialogue. “What can I do for you to make your journey safe and productive?” . it is having the guts to provide a safe place for the partners to reveal to each other who they really are. Mirroring down slows the process so the couple can fully hear each other—a mostly cognitive process that sets up the ability to empathize. Couples who stamp their feet and say that they are going to pursue an activity or a growth experience because they have the right to are diferentiated. “I’m tired of you not following through on your promises. yet. For a person to step out of his or her own feelings momentarily and to experience and understand the feelings of the other is the true state of empathy—it consists of both afective surrender and cognitive structure. With its structured means of communication. hey may be considered diferentiated on a physical level—a type of diferentiation wherein partners have little consideration for each other. Finally. his is being able to love one another beyond mere physical attraction. Couples Dialogue Fosters Differentiation With Integrity here are many ways of being diferentiated as a couple. Diferentiation with integrity is diferent. Its goal is a relationship in which the individuals fully understand each other and at the same time maintain a sense of self. And empathy is a mostly afective surrender process to allow receivers to momentarily understand what the other is feeling and. Couples Dialogue changes the typical communication style to include both cognitive structure and afective surrender. It allows the sending partner to be who she is. To guess what the other may be feeling is a way of transcending the self to understand the other. Partners who inally get frustrated enough to say. Second Edition I’m feeling that way. I am going to start doing these things for myself”—and do just that––are diferentiated.

Couples Dialogue allows the . both my grandmother and grandfather weighed more than 300 pounds for most of their lives. For example. I have heard therapists say that they are happy if couples just talk rationally about paying bills—that understanding the other’s wounds is beyond the scope of their couples work. Because of the many hours they spent talking. It is an integral aspect of growth and healing. they would not be considered attractive by most beauty standards. they continue to experience it in “connection. When partners learn to appreciate that there are two realities in the relationship. To get to this spiritual. they were able to see how special each other’s heart was. they would also run a shower for each other. skills. they experience a diferentiation from each other. Appreciating the special quality of a person’s physical attributes. they were both over 200 pounds. couples need to be given the opportunity to experience each other as spiritual beings whose progress is being hampered by patterns created by unmet needs in their development. heirs was by no means a perfect marriage. but they were not looking at outward appearances (though I am quite certain that the sight of the other sent their hearts alutter).” Diferentiation with integrity occurs when partners see and appreciate the uniqueness of each other. hrough their connection. we’d be amused to hear one grandparent say how beautiful the other was. But appreciating the uniqueness of the partner’s feelings. thus. diferentiated self. She and my grandfather had been married 58 years. Each day. Now.Couples Dialogue • 49 During the writing of this book. And just getting along is ine for many couples. cannot experience diferentiation with integrity. they knew about each other’s developmental wounds—his strict upbringing and the loss of her parents when she was 2 years old. When my siblings and I were children. and they would take turns sitting in their recliners and helping each other to put on their shoes. their physical conditions prevented them from reaching down to their feet. I had the sad experience of losing my grandmother. and. interpretations of a situation. When they irst met.” It is easy to say that most couples cannot truly experience this type of transcended self and. In the therapy sessions. Working side by side in their New Orleans restaurant. scrubbing each other’s backs and washing each other’s feet. people have to get past the adaptations that hold them in place. they gained an understanding of each other that many couples only dream about. so it was no surprise when my grandfather passed away 6 months later. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview them about their life together only several months before her death. if they do it in Couples Dialogue. and goals is part of the story. but they never seemed to mind because it was reciprocal. and such diferentiation allows that uniqueness to take root and lourish. In plain truth. Although they were not beautiful people by today’s standards. they began their marriage loving each other on a level beyond mere physical attraction. and past or present circumstances is also central. hey were very dependent on one another. his awareness made each more special in the other’s eyes. I believe that this mutual understanding created “diferentiation with integrity. but it was one that depended on the two of them working together everyday. transcended. But the heart of Imago herapy is helping couples to experience this deep way of relating.

this will be a diicult process for receiving . Receiving partners can then take advantage of the energy they have been using to defend themselves by encouraging their signiicant other toward developmental growth. partners can form the empathy necessary to healing developmental vulnerabilities. It was hampered at childhood when the necessary encouragement to move on to the next level of development was not provided by early caretakers. or become intimate with friends. For example. children move through developmental touchpoints by means of a supportive dialogue process with caretakers.50 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. of course. Because the developmental growth for the child happens in a connection with the parent. he energy to move on is then brought into the love relationship with the hopes that the partner will give the support and validation needed to proceed on to the next stage. an individual’s unmet developmental needs can be compared to a car with a running engine and a broken transmission. he process of Couples Dialogue is the perfect way to have that occur in connection. practiced. or become competent apart from the parent. the energy they have used for years in trying to get their partners to understand them can now be channeled into action. When they are inally understood. Imago Relationship heory sees marriage as a way of giving individuals a second chance to have their developmental impulses noticed. the senders are inally understood. but the ability to go forward is hampered. Couples Dialogue Heals Developmental Vulnerabilities and Unmet Needs To reach the spiritual level attainable in marriage. As mentioned earlier in this chapter. Couples Dialogue ixes the transmission and allows both partners to move on in their development. and mastered. When receiving partners hear the pain around senders’ needs. Second Edition couple to hold each other in connection while diferentiating so that they can appreciate the uniqueness of the other. Like a piece of art. a couple has to get through the developmental stages they are each stuck in from their childhoods. ind a strong identity. a conscious parent will encourage a child’s diferentiation at about age 2 by saying things like “Look at how big you are getting that you can turn on the TV!” or “Look at how smart you are that you can igure out that puzzle! You look so happy about that!” At age 4. And. hey can take chances to diferentiate. As previously noted in reference to Brazelton’s (1992) work. the conscious parent will instill competence in the child with statements like “Look at how you planted those lowers in the garden! You must feel very proud!” If the child feels that it is okay to diferentiate. he or she will spend some time acquiring that skill and then move on to the next developmental step. it is others’ appreciation of our uniqueness that makes us priceless. develop competence. By mastering the communication skill of Couples Dialogue. hey can step out of the box and out of the limitations they have lived with for so long. form an identity. the child will experience diferentiation without losing contact. he energy to move on is there.

Couples Dialogue • 51 partners to go through because it will require them to stretch. developing a language of inclusion around their play. they begin a partnership to work toward healing their partner’s unmet developmental needs. But because empathy has now entered into the relationship. It has been observed that girls will give up some of their intellectual advantage in an efort to it in with their crowd and not appear smarter than the boys (Miller. where they develop diferent cultures. the Couples Dialogue process provides a core safety and communication tool. At the same time. Hierarchies evolve as everyone begins to take his or her place in the intimate relationships that are about to begin within the structure that our present patriarchal society allows. Gender diferences in communication now become entrenched and seem to be “just the way things are. he work of Deborah Tannen (1990) and other sociolinguists reveals that men’s communication typically revolves around reporting facts. long after the patterns are entrenched.” “You can’t understand women!” he battle of the sexes begins. in which Gray ofers advice about why men and women cannot communicate. hen perhaps .” “Men are pigs!” “If women would just think!” “Men wouldn’t know a feeling if it hit them in the nose. Couples Dialogue Bridges the Gender-Communications Gap It’s no secret that men and women have a diicult time communicating with each other. Although this period is often described as challenging by couples. It is as if we speak two diferent dialects of the same language—things don’t translate. somewhere around 13 years of age. diferent interests. Boys and girls are very diferent. and diferent ways of expressing themselves. hen. Couples enter into a diicult period as they begin to change behaviors in an efort to heal their own developmental vulnerabilities. hese diferences in childhood cause them to play at opposite ends of the playground. a couple will irst experience shock that their partner can’t understand them. which may make it easier to change. they can make it through any tough situation—usually with a new understanding of the partner and his or her needs. Even those who are not so verbal about the diferences often feel them. they are now able to understand the purpose for changing their behavior toward their partner. it is socialized in them via their family. Similar to what one goes through in the stages of loss. they decide to get back together and fall in love. Millions have purchased the best-selling book. Boys learn at an early age to pass on facts about the game and stats on the players. just as important. I have found that if a couple can stay in the dialogue process. and. his language diference appears to be learned in the culture in which people are raised. 1976). Men Are From Mars. whereas women’s communication is typically around forming community and seeking commonality. it is reinforced on the playground. Girls learn nurturing and noncompetitive games. Boys can become very competitive or rebellious. Women Are From Venus (1992) by John Gray.

But how do we teach children a healthy communication style? hrough their parents. one would hope that these children will become adults who will listen to each other and parent their own children in a way that will let them develop with fewer unmet needs. children who observe and are spoken to in a dialogue process seem to have less of a gender-communications diference. but they shall be cut in two. and if they are able to understand each other. four arms. typically a stretch for men. He proclaimed. Mirroring allows the couple to grasp the facts of what is being communicated. and two sets of genitals. We have seen and heard from couples who have used Couples Dialogue regularly that it has not only improved their relationship but also changed their children. diferentiating. Second Edition they’ll go into denial in response to the lack of understanding of their ideas. helps couples learn that feelings are a part of communication. heir children appear to develop empathy for others and a deeper respect for nature. human beings were a composite of both men and women. long ago. Plato even wrote an allegory to address just that in the Symposium (Plato. and I believe Couples Dialogue is a key to bridging the gap between the sexes. and certainly the best place to start is when children are young. worse. four legs. become more accepted and a part of our culture. and again—like at the playground— the sexes separate and spend most of their time with their own gender. In the future. disillusionment sets in. “Men shall continue to exist. and healing diferences? he Greeks understood this idea. Zeus thought deeply about this and inally came up with a solution. that they became a threat to the gods. In this state. hen . healing wounds. Couples Dialogue provides us a common language. But is this diference between the sexes necessary just because it seems natural? And is it enough simply to understand that the other gender is diferent and then learn to live with it? I don’t think so. but on its own it actually allows the diferences to continue and. two hearts. Understanding gender-communications diferences is helpful. the genders play with each other with more understanding and less conlict. Understanding may relieve symptoms. It seems that. here was some talk among the gods about destroying human beings. If couples are able to communicate with each other in a way that models what they truly hear. Couples Dialogue is a language that respects the best aspects of each gender’s style. Amazingly. Validation allows both genders to know that they make sense to the other. And empathy. hey had one head with two faces. his will be followed by a period of anger as the partners complain to each other that they are not taking the time to understand things from their point of view.” But what is so great about connecting. 1948). but understanding is clearly not a goal in itself. but then the gods wondered who would be left to worship them. Although awkward at irst. his is especially true when they use the dialogue process with their children. their children will learn this new pattern. in fact. hey were so powerful. they were very powerful and strong because they were complete. Finally.52 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. In other words. we Imago therapists have found that it is a language that both men and women can master and feel included by. they will be “better ish in the stream. hey report that the children seem calmer and more respectful. Gender-communication diferences need to be healed.

wholeness. and a deep spiritual life. When we can heal our wounds. When we are whole. our diferences are outweighed by our similarities. we can accomplish things with support. When we are connected to another. Relationships are a path to healing. he two halves were then sent in diferent directions to spend the rest of their lives searching for their other half to restore their wholeness. he vehicle to move us along the path is Couples Dialogue.Couples Dialogue • 53 they will be diminished in strength. we can be less self-absorbed and look out at the possibilities. we are stronger. . When we are differentiated with integrity. When we can communicate with the other gender.” Zeus began the process of splitting the humans in two and asked Apollo to make the wound invisible. we have companionship and understanding in our endeavors. so we need not fear them.


4 SESSION ONE The Cosmic Journey. and Couples Dialogue SUGGESTED TIME FRAME Connecting with the couple “he Cosmic Journey and the Brain” lecture Having a typical disagreement Teaching Couples Dialogue Assigning homework 10 minutes 15 minutes 5 minutes 25 minutes 5 minutes 55 . the Brain.

1992). 2. If this sounds overwhelming. not only will you be connecting with them and giving a short lecture. 3. “I just met the nicest person!” Most of us have this capacity to “connect” if we create a safe and relaxed environment. According to this unconventional artist. famous politicians (including ive presidents). if you were friendly. the couple may not return. The Art of Connecting Not long ago.56 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. To teach the partners Couples Dialogue and emphasize that this communications tool can transform their marriage if they use it in all conlict situations. the easy part is doing the mask. but you will also be teaching them the most important skill they are to learn in the 6 weeks: Couples Dialogue.” She has created masks of movie stars. CONNECTION: AN IMPORTANT GOAL OF THE FIRST SESSION he main goal of the irst session is to establish a strong connection with the couple. your new acquaintance was able to tell others. To teach the couple the brain’s function in their typical frustrations and arguments. in a short-term model. What’s more. I read a book by Willa Shalit (Shalit. think back to the last party you attended when you met someone new. his leaves you with about 15 minutes to make small talk. you do not have the luxury of spending several weeks getting to know your clients. and to emphasize the importance of safety in a relationship by letting them experience both a nonproductive and productive transaction. during which time you’ll be learning about their marriage and assuring them that—with their commitment to the therapy—you can be of help to them. If the connection is weak. the hardest part . people of prominence often commissioned masks to be done of themselves immediately upon their death to serve as a permanent record of their facial features. you probably found out volumes about that person in just a few minutes. To create a safe environment so the couple can follow your instructions for the next 6 or more weeks. in the irst session. and Olympic athletes. Second Edition GOALS 1. and you will have been of little help to them. If you were relaxed at the time. most of us were trained to be observers in the therapy session rather than to be active participants in our client’s growth and learning. As you know. So. I’ll next discuss the art of connecting. Moreover. Willa creates her masks of famous people while they are alive to capture their “essence. Willa creates a unique form of art that she calls “Life Mask. an artist and daughter of movie critic Gene Shalit.” Centuries ago. Unfortunately.

” If we could see that three-dimensional mask. judgmental. and Couples Dialogue • 57 is getting her subjects in a mood that will capture their essence and beliefs for the 7 minutes it takes to make the mold. in which we learned about symptoms and diagnoses. because they have not lived up to the “happily ever after” myth that permeates our society. Just as Willa Shalit needs time to capture the right mood for her masks. the Brain. with your client-couples. however. or businesslike? How we appear does make a diference. because the couples’ reptilian brains will be ever on the alert with you. most of us were trained in the disease-medical model. to enable you to approach a couple with your “essence” rather than with your “mask. We then went into our practicums and diagnosed everyone we came across. if one partner is a substance abuser. hey may enter your oice loudly. you will be teaching couples about their brains and about the need to create safety in their relationships. rather. hey need you to act as a nonjudgmental. hey already feel defeated. We tried to ind out what was “wrong” with them. I’d like you to put your weapon down. Although we have tried to work with substance abusers as a couple—before recovery begins—with the idea that the relationship may actually be precipitating the abuse.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. Most will envision you as their last glimmer of hope. I would recommend a medical opinion. In our graduate programs. he only thing that was wrong. he most popular class in my graduate program was Introduction to Psychopathology. because our face is our password into the minds and hearts of others. For these 6 weeks. We put on our “professional face”—possibly with a furrowed brow—as we search for that ever-elusive diagnosis of our “patient. In this session. here are two exceptions. how would it look? Friendly? Safe? Nurturing? Or would it look serious. If one partner appears psychotic. the couple should deal with the drug or alcohol problem irst. was that we had turned a tool into a weapon. it will be important for you to both look safe and be safe if you are to make a positive impact. I need a few minutes to get you in the right mood. and then return for the couples work. his is not to say that you should take them home for a hot meal. Even those who decide to split up are appreciative of the new information and skills they have learned. unconditionally understanding coach. this therapy simply does not work in the .” When couples come to us for therapy. and they need your skills and empathy—not your diagnosis. I clearly remember the day when my classmates and I sat around after class and tried to diagnose ourselves (which I understand to be a very common practice among graduate students). Likewise. You will be explaining and discussing the “reptilian” brain and its concern with survival and safety. And. hey are usually looking for some guidance as well as relief from the pain they are experiencing. it means that you should see yourself as a guide. What they are thinking and feeling during that time makes a diference in how the mask turns out! Imagine how our mask would turn out if it were done during a irst session with a client. he material in this book will work to some degree for everyone who comes through your door. We already know what’s wrong: Two people are unhappy with each other. they are not looking to be judged. hoping you will see right of the bat that the partner is “crazy”. but what most will tell you is that they want things to be diferent and less painful.

you should be thinking of yourself as a nonjudgmental facilitator of health. . By now. his therapy is very efective. the pain became an increasing nuisance. you get the idea. but their pathways are blocked. help the body to help itself. however. the therapist helps the couple to help themselves. he creation of safety in couples work cannot be overemphasized and will continue to be a major topic throughout this work. and then he very gently “cracked” my neck. and his reply has since provided me with an analogy for what I see as the therapist’s role in these six sessions. Coppola explained that the nerves coming out of our spinal cord are like hoses that deliver the messages from our brain. she spends money while he “breaks his back” at work. he irst means of tapping your essence is to become nonjudgmental and to envision yourself as working with people—not “patients. my headache was gone—and without medication! I asked him about this.58 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. among those attending the workshop were three chiropractors. Michael Coppola—if he could take care of the headache. Coppola described his role as that of an adjuster who makes sure that the pathways are clear and that the “hoses” are not being squeezed. As I tried to continue with my talk despite my discomfort. . you see. With these drugs already inside of us. where he pressed on my back and neck. Squeezing the nerves prevents vital information from getting to where it needs to get to keep the body healthy. I asked one of them—Dr.” If. hinking I’d try something new. all that our bodies really require are clear pathways to deliver this internal medicine. or Al-Anon). Couples can heal themselves. however. how should you view yourself? What is your role in this therapy? Helper and Healer During one of my workshop presentations. it only seems to cause more pain to the nonabusing partner—and that’s the last thing he or she needs. hat essence can be summed up in one word: safety. Narcotics Anonymous. In minutes. It is. I came down with a terrible headache. his not coming home on time has become a “pain in her neck”. the relationship has everything in it to keep the healing going. Dr. and major headaches are occurring: for example. Second Edition short term with substance-abusing clients. his couple needs an adjustment! Your job is to give them the information and skills that will change how they see each other and will open their communication pathways.” Well. equipped with everything. he or she is “a pain in the. Fortunately for me. when conducted in conjunction with a longterm recovery program that includes regular participation in recovery support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous. it squeezes the hose—just as you might do with your water hose to stop the low. he human body comes ready. you are unable to see yourself not working in a disease model. “hat’s what I do!” I thought to myself. If you can do this. to stay healthy. When our spine is out of place. Chiropractors. . . Rather. Like the chiropractor who helps the body. including every drug it needs. Dr. the essence you’ll need to do this work will come through. Messages aren’t getting through. If you are able to let this concept become your mantra. We went to a separate room.

” Although some therapists may question the appropriateness of giving a physics and biology lecture in a couples session. a lecture on brain functioning often draws them into the work to be done. and. referred to as the reptilian brain. Later in this irst session. we have labeled this resistance and placed the blame on the client.” Dragees are the ones who think they can igure out problems on their own—that they don’t need therapy. Clients might begin to cancel appointments in an efort to avoid or hide from you. our brains prompt us to play. freeze. . here will be plenty to pull the couple into the work as you progress with the sessions. and they will work with you. We know this to be true. and be creative. run. what we usually don’t see is that—in some way—we’ve made it unsafe for them. When our clients are being resistant with us. mate. and Couples Dialogue • 59 after all.” and the other is the “dragee. or they may not follow our instructions. one is the “dragger. maybe we should take a closer look at our own methods. however. People are scared when they come to see us. work. As for the other partner. because the other part of survival in the reptilian brain relates to a “safe” situation. they may freeze in the session and stare right through us as we ofer them advice. work. as a result. or submit. When a situation is safe. Typically when a couple comes to therapy. If you can draw in the dragee. It is also what allows others to trust you enough to reveal themselves to you and to believe what you are saying is true. Sounds like a good relationship to me! ABOUT THE LECTURE After spending about 15 minutes getting to know the couple. nurture. or they may leave therapy. and his or her possible lack of interest. the primary function of the reptilian brain is to keep you alive by warning you of dangerous situations. chances are the couple will go home and do what we all do when it is safe: play. mate. the reptilian brain will tell you to ight. you will usually be able to make headway. hide. Traditionally. he lecture on the brain often appeals to them because they are often using their intellect to igure things out. don’t worry. you will be giving a lecture about the brain in which you will discuss the oldest part of the brain. and you will present a lecture: “he Cosmic Journey and the Brain. and their brains are doing exactly what they have been designed to do when a situation is dangerous. When it is dangerous. you are going to take another 20 minutes going over what the next 6 weeks will entail. Make it safe. At times. and be creative. the Brain. As previously discussed. there are several reasons for presenting this lecture—one of which is that it grabs the couple’s attention. hey may ight us and tell us that we don’t know what we’re talking about. what made you likable at your last party.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. If you can set this tone of safety in the sessions. nurture. Or maybe they’ll inally give in to you if you confront them or “rag” them enough.

Emphasize the importance of the homework. and review it with them prior to ending the session. we can attend a lecture on the basics of golf and afterwards have a symbolic understanding of golf. take a few swings. hen we can go to a golf course. Each session. A big advantage that we humans have over other animals is our ability to “symbolize” what we experience. but will take a commitment on their part. it is perfectly appropriate to leave it out.) It is also useful to emphasize the need for safety in the relationship. And this brings me to the third reason for the brain lecture as well as all of the work for the next 5 weeks: Couples need to experience what you say. Each session will conclude with the assignment of homework. Give the couple a copy of the homework sheet. I use a plastic model of a brain that I purchased at a science store. I know they are sensing danger. he irst session’s symbol is the brain. Again. In this chapter. I will begin with the brain lecture. they can immediately picture that part of the brain that is defending itself. this work cannot be done in an hour a week. When a couple becomes defensive in sessions. hey can experience what I am saying and use that information to calm themselves down. and all the processes you teach will be those emphasizing safety and empathy. (In my oice. they should bring their completed sheet back with them for the next session. I’ve included a picture of the brain (see Figure 4. Second Edition A second reason for this lecture is to show the couple that there is an actual place in the brain that is responsible for both their defensiveness and their responses to frustrations. and have an experience of what we learned symbolically. In cases where I suspect the couple may be uncomfortable with that section because of their religious beliefs.” Because they have seen the brain model. If you suspect that the couple might be uncomfortable with the “Cosmic Journey” part of this lecture. At that point. Lecture One: The Cosmic Journey and the Brain Note. so that our brain will not become defensive and “protect” us. Be sure to let them know that because you intend to check the homework.1) and labeled its parts so that you can show couples exactly where these brain functions are located. and I will say things to them such as “Get safe” or “Your old brain is responding. I will usually start it with something like this: . therefore.60 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. emotional safety is the real priority in this work. and the couple will experience what you have presented in the lecture by performing the exercise. we may be ready to hear about the best ways to get out of a sand trap. or if you feel uncomfortable with it yourself. Although a paradigm shift to a relational view is hoped for in work with couples using Imago herapy. and I’ve colored the three parts of the brain so couples can see them in 3-D. and then we can go back to the golf course and work in a sand trap to experience what we had been taught. You should ind that most couples will cooperate with you. contains a lecture or symbol and an exercise or experience of the symbol. For instance. it is not important that we change everyone’s worldview or ofend their values. his process is designed to help them retain the information long after the session is over.

that form solar systems composed of planets—with at least one that has developed life. is teeming with the energy from these billions and billions of spinning electrons. And that is. We can only see them based on what they do—which has launched the whole ield of quantum physics. if you explode a irecracker. they blew out as particles—and there you have us.” diagram shown on page 77 and located in the Homework/Handouts. Despite all we know about atoms. the paper from the irecracker expands out and. in our most basic form! We are debris and shrapnel from this original explosion. And it existed in a gigantic void. and the rest of the atom would be made up of nothing but space. we would need to make the model 14 stories high—just to be able to see the nucleus! To put this in perspective. Furthermore. if we took all of the space out of our bodies. no one has ever seen one. A bomb exploding would spew out hot metal. If we were able to develop a model to enable us to see an atom in scale. the Brain. and that what we basically are is energy—energy from this original explosion. what we would have left would be a million times smaller than a grain of sand! So why have I started out this discussion with a physics lesson? Because I want you to get the picture that things aren’t always what they seem. they circle a billion times every billionth of a second! And everything you see. including your own body.99 percent space! Our bodies are made up of billions of atoms. hey are too small. the electrons would be the size of gnats lying in the upper decks of the stadium. What a miracle! How can everything in the universe come out of a dot? Modern physics has given us the answer that relates to our basic composition: We are 99. that gather to form galaxies. what we really are is energy. and Couples Dialogue • 61 I want to start by telling you something that when I irst heard it. but three very distinct and separate brains! his brief introduction to the brain lecture usually draws the couple into what you will say. everything as we know it existed in a dot of matter about the size of the period at the end of a sentence. Every atom in our body was once in that tiny dot. inside your head you have not one. we have to understand where we came from. which means that we all have a common source. hese electrons are minute and encircle the nucleus at great speeds. As a matter of fact. is pulled down by gravity. the gravity expands out rather than down. and they become very attentive for the 15 minutes it takes for you to explain the brain functions to them. and we have no instruments capable of enlarging them enough to make them visible.Session One: The Cosmic Journey.” When things blew up. and every atom in our body was once a part of that original explosion and has traveled the 15 billion years to where it is today. I also suggest that you give them “he hree Parts of the Brain. so the debris from the big bang keeps on spreading. this dot of matter inlated to about the size of a grapefruit and then exploded in a giant “big bang. the nucleus would be the size of a baseball sitting in center ield. One day (give or take a few hundred years). Scientists are now telling us that about 15 billion years ago. In a void. To explain further. To understand where we are going. at the same time. A dot exploding in a void would spew out particles that gather to form stars. all composed of a nucleus (a neutron and a proton) and encircled by electrons. I was shocked. So. And that makes us a combination of three things: . if we are shrapnel from this original explosion. if we enlarged an atom to the size of Yankee Stadium.

just stop the nagging!”). because everything had to be just right for life to form. we will nurture. hey are located in the oldest part of the brain and are shared with all animals. freeze/play dead (the deer that freezes. play dead (stare through their partners). nurtured each other. here had to be the right temperature and combination of elements.62 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. he atmosphere had to have the right combinations to sustain life. inside your head. We are a node of energy. somehow. One of the best places to look at how this evolutionary process occurred in animals is to look at our own brains. stars. with the diference being similar to the diference between a sparkplug in a VW and one in a Mercedes: same function. What has happened to the energy from this original explosion is really quite miraculous. and explosions. lee (leave a situation). we will work. his is really quite impressive. As animals evolved. if you’ve ever said to yourself. we’ve looked at brains as “left and right. including alligators and lizards. submit (“Okay. or hide (go to another room). solar systems. We share this part of the brain with all animals. Second Edition 1. particle collection. you have three brains! I’d better explain. we have the reptilian brain. On the other hand. Interconnected neutral pulsating energy.” but we should also be looking at them from back to front. but only until one gives up and exposes its neck). and we are connected to other nodes of energy. We are as old as the universe. 2. So. he reptilian brain takes care of those things we don’t usually think about: heartbeat. and Energy from the original explosion. It’s also the place in the brain where feelings are stored. Neutral. if it is safe. but bigger spark in the Mercedes. I say this because. And. Remember when you irst met your partner? Remember how you played. and breathing. It also is concerned with survival. 3. Neutral pulsating energy. and galaxies formed. hoping the hunter will pass it by). For years. or we will be creative. there are also ive things we will do: We will play. and—if you were like most—had sex a whole lot more? Some people also say that they worked harder or felt more creative in their work or play. Earth did it! Life began to form. because we are neither good nor bad. we can only get through if we are connected to other nodes of energy. None of us can get through life alone. and eventually—millions of years later—along came man and woman. or hide (animals that run into holes). irst as plants. Every atom in our bodies existed at least 15 billion years ago. In the base of the brain. “I . Over the 15 billion years of expansion. we see these as the basic survival skills of couples. he fact that all mammals experience some feelings and live in groups is because of this very part of the brain. digestion. Couples will ight. then as one-celled animals. pulsating. we will mate. and we use them in our relationships. and—if it’s dangerous—it will help us to respond in one of ive basic ways: ight (dogs growling or biting). his part developed when animals began living in groups and began to take care of and feed their young through an early developmental period. And our solar system formed a planet that could sustain life: the Earth. light (packs of zebras running from the lion). whatever you want. a second part of the brain developed known as the mammalian brain. submit (wolves never ight to the death. Because we also have a reptilian part of the brain. in that our life-sustaining energy expresses itself as a pulse. We all have these survival mechanisms in us.

and logical thought. because there is a whole part of the brain that is dedicated to feelings. And we’ve found that. We now know that all three parts work together simultaneously. although this can change. the Brain.” and the reptilian brain says. . monkeys to a lesser extent. Several million years ago. hiding) or exploding (ighting. submitting. and the dog is drooling. math. “Run!” or “Freeze!” But. a third part of the brain developed called the cerebral cortex or the logical part of the brain. How this relates to couples is that the constrictor and the exploder always marry each other. Couples Dialogue begins to teach the idea of emotional safety and the technique of fully hearing each other.1)—a shortened “map” version outlining the steps. hide. “Let’s play!” So these parts of the brain all work together. If you open a door and see a Doberman pinscher baring its teeth.” that’s simply not true. writing. the logical brain says. When we tell our spouse to “quit screaming” or to “quit running away. and we’ll pick it up here next week. play dead/freeze. “I feel good when she is around. for the most part. but also refer to the Exercise Map (Exhibit 4. lee. people typically favor either constricting behaviors or exploding behaviors. we will ight. they are concerned with survival. with the other two parts serving as a sort of appendix—with little functional use. when it is dangerous. I am going to stop this story. “hat’s Aunt Betty”. It’s just how we work. his is the tool that will help the couple learn how to fully hear one another. What I would like to do now is to show you an exercise that will make what I just told you come alive and make more sense to you. “hat’s a Doberman. and. and has its ears back. and Couples Dialogue • 63 do not feel. In humans the cerebral cortex is ive times bigger than the other two parts combined. You should begin this exercise only after you have given the lecture on the brain and have fully explained how. At this point. but you are quite capable of feeling.” we are asking that person to stop an adaptation to danger. or submit. leeing). Another way we react to danger is by either constricting (freezing. “I feel scared. and dolphins to an even greater extent than humans. growling. It also clearly illustrates the brain’s function in communication and how the brain will defend itself when it is feeling threatened. She makes me happy”. COUPLES DIALOGUE You are about to teach the couple the most important tool any couple can learn: the Couples Dialogue. if you open the door and see your favorite Aunt Betty standing there with a big apple pie. and this is where all logical processes take place: speech. Even if the couple should leave and never come back to therapy. your logical brain says. It is important to know that we are structured to work this way.” he mammalian brain says. Humans have this part of the brain. Because this part of the brain is so much larger than the other two. and your reptilian brain says. You may be cut of from this part. their marriage will improve if they use this tool. your mammalian brain says. I will cover Couples Dialogue in detail here.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. many once thought it to be the most important part of the brain.

“Did I get that?” hen.” Pick three feelings your partner may be feeling (this is only a guess). Find out if the Sender felt heard. . or did it stay the same? Compare the process to pedals on a bike: “You have to wait until your partner’s pedal is all the way down before you can start to push your pedal down.1 Sender Session One Exercise Map Receiver Respond as usual for 3 minutes. Have the couple talk about what they just did and how it feels diferent. . Mirror back until you have heard the sender’s message. Validate the sender’s statement: “I can understand that” or “What makes sense about that to me is . . Receiver Find a “safe place” in your mind.” hen have the couple switch the process so the other partner can have the experience of doing the dialogue process and of feeling fully heard. Acknowledge that partner heard it correctly. Did the energy go up. and then asks the following: Is this typical? Did you ight? Flee? Play dead or freeze? Hide? Submit? Did you feel heard? Could you feel your old brain defending itself? (Both sender and receiver respond to these questions. . and state what receiver may have missed. .” and “If I got it right. the receiver says to the sender. .) Now let the couple know that you are going to show them a new way to communicate using Couples Dialogue. Repeat the mirroring one or two more times on the same subject.” After mirroring. herapist watches this process.” Empathize with your partner: “I imagine that makes you feel .64 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Mirror what you heard: “I heard you say. Sender Send frustration in two to three sentences. “Is there more?” Mirror back what you may have missed. . Ask the Receiver if he or she learned anything diferent about his or her partner. Express a usual frustration or argument for 3 minutes. . you said. Second Edition EXHIBIT 4. .

but keep it safe. What you are giving the couple is the idea that there are patterns to arguments. they are not hearing each other: Partner 1: You know. Partner 1: he last time they came over. Partner 1: I am not exaggerating! It was not a misunderstanding—your mother told me a lie. let the couple know that you now want them to learn a new way to communicate. It was only 3 days. every time your parents come over they cause trouble. Once you have gone over the argument they’ve just demonstrated. and they will produce a 3-minute exchange. and it’s all straightened out now. and it was just a misunderstanding. hide. or submit. Who minimized the problem? Let them know that this is typical and that all couples have someone who minimizes and someone who maximizes an argument. “Yes. Typically. Ask them who seems to have maximized the problem. After the exchange. you want to make the couple very aware of how their old brain was at work during their frustration. and assure them that you will stop it in 3 minutes. Each will seem to want to win or keep the other one quiet. the Brain. “What do you think just happened?” and keep them focused on process. play dead/freeze. Now ask them. Most couples will say. “No. When this exchange occurs in a back-and-forth manner. Partner 2: But I talked to her. it will go away”) and someone who maximizes the problem (“You are the most awful person in the world!” or “You always do this to me!”). but at home it is louder”—which is understandable because. you will see that what they are doing falls into one of the ive categories: ight. How about light? Did they play dead or freeze? Submit? Hide? Even in short exchanges. light. If you listen and watch closely. at this point.” At this point. Ask them about their argument. not content. You are trying to ind out if they felt heard and understood by each other. ask the question. All couples are comprised of someone who minimizes the problem (“It’s not that bad” or “If you will just stop that. You are also giving them the experience of your earlier brain lecture so they too are subject to the natural responses to a dangerous interaction.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. three of these defenses are typically used. and ask them if they used ight. they’ve only known you for about 30 minutes. hey’re just excited to see us. You will also see an energy exchange we call minimizing and maximizing. At irst this will be uncomfortable for them. “Is this typical?” he couple will usually tell you. and the Old Brain Begin by asking the couple to have a typical 3-minute argument. wait it out. what you will hear is two people trying to get their points across. Hand . and we wind up not talking to each other for weeks! Partner 2: It’s not that bad. we didn’t talk for a week! Partner 2: You’re exaggerating. Maximizers. and Couples Dialogue • 65 Minimizers.

Tell them to think of a “safe place” in their minds where they can mentally place themselves so that the old brain is not triggered. Occasionally. so it is important that they follow through with the work you will be giving them after the session.” . If they do not. and that’s usually because what is being said is not safe and the brain wants to respond defensively. the question discourages additional dialogu. Likewise. he sender will be the inal judge of this.” It is important that receivers mirror back what they heard and an interpretation. “It’s more important to hear than to win. you need to remind receivers to breathe or to center themselves so they can hear clearly.” or “If I’m hearing you correctly. alert receivers as to how their “old brain” is responding to the message when they are not able to “get it” correctly. and let them know that you are going to teach them a three-step communication process. his is the basic tool in Imago herapy. the couple can then begin the process. “Is there more?” Many couples want to ask that question as “Is there any more?” However. Mirroring Let the couple decide who will be the “sender” and who will be the “receiver” of the frustration.66 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Should they be set of by something said and try to respond. you need to be patient and continue to encourage them to try again and mirror back as they heard it. .e and so it should be restated as “Is there more?” Quite often. After the senders state the frustration in three sentences. “I cannot hear this because I happen to have something to say about it. . hey should inish each mirroring with the question “Did I get that?” If the sender says yes. As the coach in the session. it is important that you watch receivers to make sure they are staying in their safe place. he receiver should start the sentence with something like “I heard you say . Let receivers know that they have to make it safe for the senders—and for themselves. Usually they will tell you. their relationship will stay the same. Second Edition out the Couples Dialogue sheet and Feelings List. you have to do some work with the receiver. you said . the receivers— instead of responding as usual—are asked to “mirror” what they heard. the receiver should ask. . . . Explain to the couple. their relationship will change. you said . it will take receivers several tries before they get the mirror accurately. when posed this way. senders may have to send the same message several times before they feel the message was fully heard. As a way of anchoring the brain lecture that you’ve just presented.” Encourage them to get back into their safe places so that they can fully hear. and if the couple uses it. Because you are going to be asking the sender to send the same frustration in about two to three sentences. .” or “If I got it right. Mirroring is the process that has the receiver repeating to the sender what the sender said as it was said—not as the receiver wanted to hear it. As the therapist. Once the receiver is feeling somewhat safe. the Couples Dialogue could erupt into an argument as the sense of safety disappears.

scared. and abandoned]. . “You make sense to me. Again. he receiver should only be hearing and validating the sender. for example: “I can see how when I come home late you would get worried. “So I imagine you might feel [alone. rather. Ask them if they felt heard and if they felt they understood their partner diferently. you can move into validation. he senders should send two to three “rounds” of sentences they would like to have mirrored back to them. because sometimes things happen to people that make them come home late—or worse. Empathy he third step is to develop empathy between the couple. he or she needs to understand the feelings behind what the sender has said. although agreement might occur.” he receiver can also expand on the validation. “I’m cold!” and is told. Once the message is fully heard and mirrored.” I usually have receivers pick three feelings to impart the idea that we can have several feelings at the same time.” At this stage.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. and the defensive processes begin.” Validation is not the same as agreement. the Brain. “You can’t be cold—it’s warm in here. When one partner responds too quickly.” or. “I can see that. Help them experience the diference through their use of Couples Dialogue. there should be no explanations or apologies. he importance of validation is that most of us have had many invalidating experiences in our lifetime. you want the couple to experience what they learned and to process the experience. Find out how each felt about what the other was saying. it is the acknowledgment that the other possesses a particular thought or experience. they can recognize what it is they need to control in order to fully hear their partner. If they can feel their defenses going up. “I can see that you can see it that way. Validation Validation is a way of saying.” invalidation can be confusing. As perplexing as it is for the little child who says. He or she might say. and Couples Dialogue • 67 You want them to fully understand the lecture on the brain by having them actually experience its principles through this demonstration. he receiving partner might simply say. he receivers mirror back as they heard them. Ask them if this experience was diferent from what they usually do when they discuss their frustrations. the other partner may feel invalidated. Ask the receiver to guess how the sender might be feeling. Once the receiver has heard and has validated the sender.

under instruction—awaited their turn. in the long run. for 15 years. you should stress to them the importance of completing the homework you are about to give them. I usually explain the process like this: “First of all. Couples Dialogue is actually more eicient. pedal. Make sure they understand that you not only expect them to do the homework but also will be checking it! DAVE AND DIANA: A CASE STUDY he case of Dave and Diana will be used throughout the book to illustrate the session-to-session progress of a cooperative couple who complete the homework assignments. because it’s both diferent and diicult. Assure them that. and Diana said she felt secure with an older man taking care of her. pedal [I make a pedaling motion with my hands and demonstrate one pedal going down] until the pedal gets to the bottom. She said. Dave and Diana’s story is taken from an actual couple seen in the six-session format. 40. he senders send their message or ‘pedal. because they will feel heard and understood more quickly. he homework irst helps them learn the process. which means they don’t have to return to the same argument as often! Once you have shown the couple the process and given them the experience of using the dialogue. Keep in mind that couples may start to complain that this new process takes too long. Make the analogy that it’s like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand: At irst it feels awkward and clumsy. he receivers have patiently—or.” At this point in the session. but after a while you get it. and empathized with—the receiver then gets a chance to pedal until he or she is fully heard. or said what he or she needed to say—and the receiver has mirrored. And the way to think about this is to think of pedals on a bike. validated. It is important to hear and to be heard. Make it safe and nurture them through it. of course. Second Edition Taking Turns Now. . but that seems to be buried deep right now. hey met at a local bar.’ hey pedal. at least. there is the other side of the frustration. and it becomes as natural as the old way of brushing.” hey married soon after they met and gave birth to a son who is 12 now. and that their old way seemed quicker. and empathized with by the partner. “Our relationship was based on mutuality. the partners should switch roles so that each has the experience of using the Couples Dialogue. you have to always keep in mind that it is not important to win.68 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Dave is a 49-year-old engineer and has been married to Diana. When the sender has fully pedaled. then it gives them at least 5 days of using the dialogue in daily situations. All identifying information has been changed to protect their conidentiality. pedal. validated. Dave and Diana said that their early marriage was illed with fun activities. where Diana said she became interested in him because he was older and was in a secure profession.

as both scored in the severe range.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. hey also said that underneath it all. and T-Scores above 65 indicate severe levels of distress. he relationship began to afect their work. Dave and Diana’s scores are listed in Table 4. Diana began to attend a recovery program for overeaters 9 years ago. and uses these scores to arrive at an overall Mental Health Index. and they often found themselves daydreaming. Outcome tests are used in managed care as a baseline for client distress and as a way of directing treatment to the particular problem. Although Dave and Diana were very bitter. Lueger. hey passed mean remarks between them and avoided each other as much as they could. being late. the Brain. Dave and Diana were given outcome-tracking assessments to chart their progress in the therapy. and both decided that their alcohol consumption had become a problem and began recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 6 years ago. and Couples Dialogue • 69 Problems began to arise several years into the marriage. Dave and Diana grew distant from each other. and O’Mahoney. most recently. Generally speaking. he stresses they are experiencing are especially problematic in the area of their everyday life functioning. hese scores indicate that Dave and Diana are experiencing considerable individual distress and are in need of treatment. they were still friends. COMPASS is a valid and reliable self-report inventory used by many large companies to track client progress and need for treatment. Although their habits improved. Symptoms. and. hey had utilized all the resources they knew of and decided to seek professional help. he tests were given before Session One and will be repeated after the sixth session. their jobs. Both Dave and Diana were drinking heavily. Initial Outcome Measures As is the case with many managed-care clients. Brill. missing work days. hey took pride in being “civil” about their ights.1. and Life Functioning. heir time in AA also allowed them to be open to looking inward and admitting their responsibility to the marriage. Dave and Diana were especially high . and the problems they were experiencing. a valid and reliable 280-question self-report inventory that proiles 11 areas commonly reported by couples in marital distress. they wanted to stay together to raise their son. Both of their employers noticed and made mention of the changes in private meetings. his information was validated by the Marital Satisfaction Inventory. their marriage had not followed suit. hey are also being used to make sure clients are making progress in the treatment. usually not raising their voices so they would not upset their son. It measures Wellbeing. he measures used were COMPASS (Howard. 1981) to chart improvement in the marriage. Since then. 1992) to chart their individual progress and the Marital Satisfaction Inventory (Snyder. they have remained sober and regularly attend AA meetings. T-Scores of 50 to 65 are indications of moderate to severe levels of distress. and she began to binge eat.

which seems evident in the following excerpt of their conversation: Dave: Yesterday when we were talking and you said to me. hey were both interested and immediately recalled times where they used the mechanisms of ight.70 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. DAVE AND DIANA: SESSION ONE Both Dave and Diana were pleasant and contemplative in the irst session. I was there. light. playing dead or freezing. Disagreement About Finances (T = 67 and 68. then take it back. As instructed. It angered me more to know you knew me. Diana: But it really hurts me when you ofer me one thing. Because of their time in AA. Diana also scored high in the area of Efective Communication. Second Edition TABLE 4. over the years they have talked about personal growth. and Sexual Dissatisfaction (T = 64 and 66. And I meant that. “I’m losing compassion here and the energy has changed and I’m feeling the anger. You hit below the belt when you told me that I had not changed at all when I’ve been working so hard on myself.1 COMPASS Scores of Diana and Dave Diana Well-being (Normal range: above 83) (Severe range: below 17) Symptoms (Normal range: below 17) (Severe range: above 83) Life Functioning (Normal range: above 83) (Severe range: below 17) Mental Health Index (Normal range: above 83) (Severe range: below 17) 43 27 13 41 Dave 46 68 10 25 in Global Distress (T = 64 and 71. with a T-Score of 68. I felt very fearful. respectively). I did not want to answer because you were right. Diana: It’s scary for me when you do that. respectively). But then a switch turned. or submitting. hiding. respectively). Dave: But I started in the right vein. After a 10-minute greeting. they were presented with an overview of the therapy and the brain lecture. It .” I did not want to be there. they were able to engage in a 3-minute frustration diatribe that proved illustrative of their communication style and defensive posture. and I did not want to be there. hat much I meant. meaning how well she feels understood in the marriage.

Dave and Diana were then guided in the Couples Dialogue. and her voice softened.” Blah! I want to kick you. “My father was always telling me what . . I feel so betrayed. What is interesting is that although Dave and Diana are very insightful. so I just say that I don’t want to risk telling you what I see anymore. It feels very scary and it’s not okay. I don’t know what turns that switch for me. But when you do it. I tell you and you yell at me. She was able. you are getting better. Dave: I’m trying to own my own stuf. who never told him he was smart. But at irst. which appeared to get sadder as he talked. Diana: And I keep pointing it out to you when I see it. and you tell me. I’m glad you pointed it out to me. but rather a diatribe. I’m getting better at it. which may not be right. and she seemed more inviting and less defensive. get angry. By listening. hon.” after I get in all this trouble saying things to you. I don’t want to have to be the one to say something to you. When Diana was able to get herself safe and make her body and mind willing to listen. It makes me want to just leave and go away because when I risk being honest with you. you either put me down or go away. I just know the switch was turned. Dave revealed to her that he felt intimidated by her because she was able to igure things out faster than he could. He said. Her face softened. or leave me. I don’t want to be your friend.or herself. So I don’t even want to tell you. After I have time to think about it. She was now leaning in toward Dave. “I’m so glad you said something. hey are not having what would be called a dialogue. his is a typical argument heard in marriages with one partner aware of problems in the marriage and the other unaware until it is pointed out. “Oh. I can’t. Dave: (interrupting) But . Before I could not even come back and say anything. and it is not fair. . she was able to learn things about Dave that she had not understood before. Diana: hat’s true.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. he missing ingredients are safety and a dialogue process. his is very typical in couples as one is speaking and the other is beginning to think about what to say to defend him. but it is how I feel. I just get mad. To tell me you are going to be there and then you hit below the belt. I’m totally unaware of when things change until you tell me and then I get angry because you have to point it out to me. Diana: You need to own some of your own stuf. He felt that she was smarter than he was about things and that made him feel inadequate. and Couples Dialogue • 71 makes me angry. I can come back and talk about it. So I say it and I get so mad when you say. Dave: It seems as though we need that. her features changed. I feel like I am never going to get what I want unless I ask for it. Dave was able to tell Diana that her ability to do that reminded him of growing up with his father. the Brain. to mirror back Dave’s words and match his afect. with some assistance from the therapist. go ahead. who then becomes angry when it is pointed out. they are not listening to each other.

when I really want to get mad at my father. when you really want to get mad at your father. Dave: I want to run because it is easier. . Dave: It feels so scary inside. he can’t understand. if I’m hearing you correctly. He would not be there. Diana: (mirroring) (softly) And you don’t like that because you are a good person. . . Dave became tearful and Diana was able to mirror back his words and his afect. and it’s hard to deal with it at 49. . herapist: Stay safe. Diana: (mirroring) You want to run because it is easier. . Diana. herapist: Can you validate that? Diana: (validation and empathy) I can understand that. if I am getting that right. and I’m going to get mad at you for bringing them up . Is there more? Dave: (crying) And I don’t like that because I am a good person. I can imagine how angry you feel toward your dad and how hurt you feel toward your dad. Diana: (mirroring) It’s hard to deal with these feelings from childhood at 49. you won’t go away. he things your father did were not very nice. Diana: (mirroring) So. you know I won’t go away. It’s hard to accept. I did not deal with it then. scared. Diana: (mirroring) So.72 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.” At that point. (sobbing) He won’t understand. I can understand that I am a safe place for you. the Couples Dialogue went to a deeper level: Dave: I start to feel the inadequacies. And I feel in our relationship. In our relationship. Is there more? Dave: He would shut down. and I wish he would not have done . you are afraid to put out your anger on your father because he won’t try to understand. and hurt. Second Edition was wrong and never that I did a good job. It’s hard to reconcile between the man and the child. you said that when you feel the inadequacies. Is there more? Dave: I’m afraid to put that anger out on my father. Diana: (mirroring) It’s hard to accept. herapist: Stay with what he says. you get mad at me for bringing them up. herapist: And that’s what you did as a child. I understand that your dad would go away. Dave: It’s very hard. Diana: (mirroring) And you feel your father would shut down and could not be there for you. She was also able to validate that she understood his logic on this and to guess that he might feel inadequate. At this point.

Now. She began by saying how sad she feels about now being heard by Dave. His pattern of shutting down. It feels scary and hopeless.Session One: The Cosmic Journey. rather than acting out his wounds. At this point in the session. Diana: I feel afraid because if I don’t say it right. but at the same time you did want to be noticed. he has to gain more control of his behavior. It’s too scary to want too much attention. Diana was able to understand that much of Dave’s present behavior patterns may have had their roots in early childhood wounding by his father. It makes sense to me. Diana had some things that she wanted to say. It’s not safe to be seen or paid too much attention to. I imagine it feels scary out there. It is scary for me to actually have you hear and see me right now. She is now able to listen with empathy when she knows that she is safe and the attack is not totally directed at her. he has to take responsibility to dialogue the wounds with Diana. Dave: (mirroring. Dave is instructed that as he becomes more conscious of the source of his pain. I just got away and did not learn to deal with things. with Dave getting safe and being the receiver to listen to Diana. You want me to understand how scary it is for me to notice you or not notice you. Diana: I feel scared. . herapist: Can you validate that? Diana: (validation and empathy) I sure can. and empathy) It reminds you of when you were a kid and your father would say you have a lazy tongue. Dave: (mirroring) So you are saying that as a kid. hey were instructed to switch roles. I did that as a kid when I did not want others to see me. I can see that it is scary for you to have me see and hear you at the same time. validation. Dave was able to begin the process of understanding how his present patterns with Diana may have had their roots in his childhood. At the same time. as a child. the Brain. his insight allowed her to feel less like he was doing this behavior to hurt her and more like there was a deeper source. running away. too. the sender. Did I get that? Diana: (tearfully) Yes. I need you to know how scary it is for you to notice me or not notice me. when (sobbing) my father would say what a lazy tongue I have. and Couples Dialogue • 73 Dave: Oh yeah! I just ran outside. and getting angry may have started in his relationship with his father. Diana: (mirroring) So if I am getting this. and it feels like you want to go away. and I imagine you feel scared. you did not want to be noticed because it was not safe. you would run from the conlict and you did not learn to deal with things. you won’t get it. But then I wanted someone to notice me. and I want to go away. Just because Diana understands his behavior does not mean that he has the right to subject her to it as he has been doing. hat reminds me of when I was a kid. It feels like I want to go away right now. You did not want to be noticed.

Dave and Diana were now seeing the pain each other had from their childhoods. that they can use to hear each other. and they’ve also had the experience of using the skill in the session. hey now possess a tool. . To reinforce this. At the end of the irst session. I can imagine you are scared and sad. Couples Dialogue. Second Edition Dave: (validation and empathy) I can see how scary it is for you. Dave and Diana were assigned homework (an illustration of the homework is shown on page 77) so they could practice this new skill and reinstate caring behaviors with each other. his tool and their experience of safety allowed them a few moments of empathy for each other and allowed them to reach past their anger and see their partner’s pain.74 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.

Feelings List Hand this list to the couple with the Couples Dialogue sheet. each partner will leave with four pages of handouts. It is best to allow them to take a copy of this sheet home so they can ind time to discuss the lecture further.HANDOUT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE THERAPIST SESSION ONE In Session One. his will make the lecture seem more realistic to them and easier to follow rather than having to visualize it as you are talking. If this is the case. his list. It is especially useful to the partner who is not familiar with feeling words. In other cases. You may ind that he or she will search the list for just the right words. 3. I have found that some partners will need the sheet while they are practicing the dialogue: It is such a new way of communicating for them that they have dificulty following the steps. and the sheet will serve as a reminder of the parts to use for their homework. you will be able to lead couples in a spontaneous dialogue. although useful. 2. 1. Couples Dialogue his page can be given to the couple while you are teaching them the Couples Dialogue process or at the end of the session after they have learned it. and that is perfectly appropriate until the feeling words become a part of his or her vocabulary. you may ind that the couple’s irst experience at dialogue may sound rote and will continue to sound this way until the three parts of the dialogue process become integrated. should not be considered complete as there are numerous other words that express feelings. The Three Parts of the Brain Show this page to the couple while you are presenting the brain lecture. 75 .

Between Sessions One and Two. his homework assignment will ease the couple into adding caring behaviors into their relationship. or airmations) for every negative behavior (in the form of criticisms. . even if this is tentative at irst. Emphasizing caring behaviors is also important: Negative behaviors the couple have exhibited toward each other have to be replaced by positive behaviors. In order to keep track of how often the couple practiced. have them check the days in which they completed the assigned task in the boxes at the bottom of the page. Homework Instructions for Session One his page should be handed out at the end of the session and explained to the couple. Second Edition 4.76 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. ignoring. or nonsupportive behavior). practicing the dialogue is of utmost importance. It is essential for couples to place importance on positive behaviors. gifts. Research by Gottman (1979) shows that stable marriages exhibit ive positive behaviors (in the form of compliments. his homework is designed to help the couple get over the awkward stage of learning the dialogue process so they can move forward into more serious issues.

and Couples Dialogue • 77 236 SESSION ONE SESSION ONE 237 238 SESSION ONE SESSION ONE 239 . the Brain.Session One: The Cosmic Journey.


5 SESSION TWO Development. Childhood Experiences. and Mate Selection SUGGESTED TIME FRAME Checking homework Watching couple practice Couples Dialogue “Development and Childhood Experiences” lecture Guided imagery Assigning homework 5 minutes 10 minutes 20 minutes 20 minutes 5 minutes 79 .

STARTING THE SESSION Last week. ask the couple to discuss a frustration they’ve experienced while using Couples Dialogue. 2. In doing so. To begin the dialogue process. because Imago work cannot be successful if limited to merely an hour a week in your oice. you will reinforce the message that you do check homework. presented a lecture on the brain. he homework you assigned was designed to help the couple learn the process and become familiar with the three parts of Couples Dialogue. Because couples commonly feel awkward during their initial attempts at practicing Couples Dialogue on their own. and have the listening partner talk until he or she feels fully heard and understood. his part of the session should take about 15 to 20 minutes and is completed when you feel each partner has absorbed the process and has had an experience of feeling heard and understood. Second Edition GOALS 1. To check on the homework assignment. you met and connected with the couple. remember to have one of them get into his or her “safe place” and have the other send a frustration in two to three sentences. and he or she . ABOUT THE LECTURE his week’s lecture. in this session you irst need to make sure that they understand the process. he sending partner should continue this process until he or she feels fully heard and understood. If a child’s needs are not met. 4. “Development and Childhood Experiences.80 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. It will be important for you to keep this lecture simple. give them a sense of self-esteem and well-being. or what some may call a “wound”). You will also stress the importance of doing the homework. To help the couple begin to gather memories from their childhood to begin the process of consciously understanding the purpose of their relationship. 3. because you will be taking the mystery out of psychological development. a longing occurs (a vulnerability. when fulilled. hen lip the process. To get the couple accustomed to the idea that you check the homework each week. and introduced them to the most used and useful tool in Imago work: the Couples Dialogue.” will introduce the couple to the idea that their childhood played an important part in the selection of their mate. Babies and young children have needs that. To check that the couple are hearing each other fully. using the Couples Dialogue. To educate the couple on how their early childhood afects their choice of whom they pick as a partner.

Session Two: Development, Childhood Experiences, and Mate Selection • 81 develops an adaptation. We’ve seen similar adaptations in the plant world: If a plant is not receiving an ample supply of water, it will lose its bottom leaves in order to supply what little water there is to the top leaves. In other words, we do what it takes to survive. his isn’t good enough for Nature, however. here seems to be an innate drive to work things out, to become whole and put our past hurts behind us. To help us accomplish this, we are placed with people who have similar vulnerabilities so that we can heal together. But why do we end up with mates who have similar experiences? Wouldn’t it make more sense if we placed ourselves with those who could give us exactly what we need, so we could inally get what we’ve been longing for since childhood? If we need to be held, why don’t we ind someone who is afectionate rather than a withholder? If we need praise, why don’t we end up with a mate who can give praise unconditionally? Instead, we seem to be drawn to mates who seem least likely to be able to give us what we need—mates who have had wounding experiences in childhood at precisely the same place in which we did! Nature, rather than handing us a seemingly logical or sensible solution, opts for a “two-for-one” solution in healing human developmental vulnerabilities. By learning how to give our partners what they need, we heal ourselves and them in the process. If they need to be held, chances are that we need to learn to hold. By helping our partners, we are inally able to grow and reclaim the lost part of ourselves. his is what we see happening in Imago herapy: growth through relationship. his lecture is designed to help the couple ind out where they are. It will help them see that they are developmentally arrested in the same place; moreover, it will help them to realize that they need to see each other as allies rather than as enemies in the process of healing. he lecture will also help the couple realize that they are equally vulnerable, and it will encourage them to aid each other in their healing. Whereas the irst session gave the couple a tool for communicating, the second session begins the process of the couple working together. hey will see that their relationship has a purpose. On a inal note, the stories in the childhood and development lecture come from my own personal experience. You are welcome to use them, change them to it your needs, or—better yet—add your own. Stories and examples always heighten and enliven the presentations, because they give the listener an experience of what you are telling them.

he third part of this session is a 20-minute guided imagery exercise. he idea of the guided imagery is to help the couple quiet themselves and begin to recall memories of their childhoods. If you have absolutely run out of time in this session or are totally uncomfortable with imagery, you can give the couple the related paperwork, and ask them to complete it at home—preferably in a quiet place. Assigning the paperwork as homework will be efective, but I’ve found that doing the corresponding imagery during the session evokes deeper

82 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition memories. It also gives the couple a sense that they did this work together. Some couples ind a guided imagery to be painful; others enjoy the 20 minutes of relaxation. (Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby!) If you have never done a guided imagery before, irst be sure to read through the version presented in this chapter to familiarize yourself with its content. When you are actually doing the imagery, you should soften your voice and read the material very slowly to create a relaxed environment. he relaxation can be heightened by playing the right background music. If you wish to incorporate music, I highly recommend Structures from Silence by Steve Roach (1987), 29 minutes of music that should bring even the most highstrung person into a relaxed state. You can also order an excellent guided imagery tape from Imago Relationships International (see Appendix I at the end of the book). After the imagery, distribute and explain the homework sheets, and request that the couple bring them to the next session. he questions listed on the sheets match the imagery, and you will need the completed forms to conduct the next week’s session. Note: his session tends to be the longest session and the hardest to it into an one-hour time frame. One way to carve out some more time is to audiotape your guided imagery and assign it as homework. Tell the couple to ind a quiet place and 30 minutes to listen to the tape and then complete the forms. his allows you to spend more time with the couple in dialogue. 

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Lecture Two: Development and Childhood Experiences
Last week we talked about where we came from to get a picture of where we are headed. We said that we came out of a dot of matter some 15 billion years ago and that what we basically are is energy from the big bang. Over these 15 billion years, this energy formed stars and planets and solar systems and galaxies. And our planet formed life, and this life has evolved over time. We looked at the evolutionary process evident in our own brain and said that the oldest part of our brain, the reptilian brain, is there primarily to keep us alive. It’s very evident when we have frustrations with each other that the old brain’s “defenses” will kick in to keep us alive. So, when we are frustrated with each other, we will ight, lee, play dead or freeze, submit or hide. We also promised to pick up the story from this point—and it starts when we are born. When you get here, you are whole—you’re not yet developed, but you are whole. You have everything you need to make a “whole” person, or, put another way, you have potential. Similarly, the acorn has everything it needs to make an oak tree except one thing: the environment. he environment determines how the acorn will grow. So, too, will the environment determine how a person will grow.

Session Two: Development, Childhood Experiences, and Mate Selection • 83 And whereas some people are provided with loving and supportive environments that allow them full growth, many more grow up in environments that limit and constrict development.

The Stages of Development
So now I want to discuss what happens after we are born and what is meant by childhood vulnerabilities and adaptations, and I’ll do this by talking about childhood development. he attachment stage spans from birth to 2 years of age. During this stage, the child wants only to be attached to a caretaker and needs the basics of availability and warmth. he child’s main objective during this time is to grow and survive. We know this from studies of monkeys in which baby monkeys were taken from their mothers. hese babies were then given a choice of a “mother” made of wire with a bottle stuck in the breast area or a wire monkey covered with fur, making it warmer and softer than the bare wire. he baby monkeys consistently went to the fur-covered mother, even without the bottle. Babies, you see, need availability and warmth. Problems arise when there has been poor holding or when a parent is not available. Marianne and I met in graduate school and did some work at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Charity was one of the largest hospitals in the world. It was 19 stories tall, and its emergency room treated over 1,000 people a day. here were 7,000 babies born each year at Charity. One of the projects we worked on during this time dealt with infant psychiatry. Mostly we showed mothers how to hold their babies correctly, because we were inding that many of the young mothers tended to hold their babies away from their bodies. We taught them to hold their infants in toward the heart and chest. Essentially, what we were doing was helping these children avoid severe emotional malnutrition. But what happens if a child is not held in or is left too long in the crib to cry? When a child receives poor holding or has a parent who is unavailable to them at this age, a developmental vulnerability or “wound” occurs. As a direct result, one of two things can happen: he child can either become a Clinger (“I never got held as a child, so when I ind someone and inally do get held, I’m never going to let go!”) or become an Avoider (“I never got held, and I don’t want to be held because it would hurt too much, and I don’t need it anyway”). An injury at this point in development produces a hurt that, in turn, produces a character adaptation to keep the person from feeling the hurt. If children get what they need at each developmental stage, they’ll move on to the next. Actually, they will move on anyway, but with an adaptation that keeps them from fully realizing their human potential. his is akin to the seed that is planted in the ground and given water. With only its basic needs met, it is going to create a shoot, it is going to create a leaf, it will lower, and it will drop its own seeds. hese are basic developmental impulses innate to the plant. How well it does so and how healthy it is depend on its environment. he same holds true for human development.

84 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition he second stage of development is that of exploration (2 to 3 years). In this stage, a child needs two things: to be able to explore, and to have someone to come back to. During the Christmas holidays the year our son Alex was 2 years old, he was thrilled to be able to explore the decorations around the house. We would sit in the kitchen as he would run into the living room to look at the Christmas tree, and he would gleefully return to us and say, “Christmas tree! Christmas tree!” hen he would take us to see the tree so that we could get as excited as he was. Alex needed to be able to explore, and he needed to have his parents present to tell him about his exploration: “Yes, what a beautiful tree!” Problems arise for kids who never get the chance to explore, or, when they do, there’s no one around to come back to. For example, a little boy goes into another room, and a parent takes this time to go do laundry or read the paper, so that when the child returns, no one is there to share in the excitement with him. When this happens regularly over a period of time, the child begins to experience a sense of abandonment. he opposite response can also be damaging: he child may be told to “stay put,” always within reach of the parent, so that this child’s natural curiosity may be squelched by the protectiveness by that parent. If children do not get what they need at this stage, again one of two personalities can develop. he child can become a Fuser (“No one was there for me to get excited with when I saw something interesting, so—now that I am older—if no one gets excited about my ideas, I’m going to scream until they do get excited”) or an Isolator (“I never got any space or was allowed to explore when I was little, so no one is going to hold me down now”). If children’s needs are met at this stage, they move on to the next stage, which occurs at 3–4 years old: the stage of identity. his is a fun stage during which kids are reaching the end of being babies and are starting to ind a sense of self. And what they do at this stage is experiment with a variety of selves. Alex, age 3, wakes up in the morning now and is a diferent animal each morning. Sometimes he wakes up and is a cat, and he says, “Meow,” and expects us to pet him. Sometimes he wakes up and barks like a dog, and when we bend down he licks us. What a child needs at this stage is to be mirrored. So when Alex acts like a cat, his parents say, “What a nice kitty!” When he licks them, they say, “What a nice puppy!” At this time, children at this stage need to know that others can see them in the very way that they are presenting themselves. When Cory was 3 years old, one of the things he learned to do well was to put on his mother’s makeup. And he was good at it! He would get the lipstick just right and put rouge on his cheekbones—just like a pro. hen he would look me straight in the eye and say, “Daddy, I’m beautiful!” At that moment, I could have really hurt him. I could have said (as probably most of us heard as children), “Boys don’t wear makeup! Only girls wear makeup!” Had I said that to him, I would have run the risk of shaming him, creating a vulnerability, and, quite possibly, afecting his view of women as diferent and inferior. Instead, I said, “You are beautiful! Look at the way you have that makeup on

Session Two: Development, Childhood Experiences, and Mate Selection • 85 so beautifully! You are so pretty!” Now, as a young adult, he has no interest in wearing makeup, but at age 3, it was important to him to try on diferent roles. From the two preceding examples, we can see that Cory and Alex were both experimenting with roles and beginning the formation of their identities. hey needed someone to “see” them. So if their parents had said to them, “Boys don’t do that!” or “You’re not a cat!” they may have developed Rigid personalities. his would manifest itself in rigid behaviors: that is, things are “supposed” to be this way or that way. On the other hand, if their parents did not acknowledge their behavior at all and simply walked past them as they were calling attention to their roles, the boys may have developed Difuse personalities. People with difuse personalities do not feel secure about who they are, often relying on others to make decisions, and sometimes report feeling “invisible”—as though they don’t matter. Now, if kids get what they need at the identity stage, they move on—at about age 4 (usually through 6 years of age)—to the stage of power and competence. At this stage, they’re possibly attending preschool and beginning to do things outside the home. And that’s what this stage is all about: becoming competent outside of the home, in school as well as with other people. his is the time when you’ll ind children proudly coming home armed with things they’ve done at school or done with friends. What they need at this stage is praise, airmation, and mirroring. For example, if a child brings home a picture she’s done at school and says, “Look what I drew!” she needs her parent to say, “Look how wonderful—I love the way you’ve colored this picture! You must be very proud of it! I know I am!” In a nutshell, the child needs to be praised. Problems occur when children hear, “It’s good, but it’s out of the lines, and lowers aren’t green. he lowers are supposed to be red and blue and the stems green—let’s get it straight.” Or they may not hear any comment at all or receive tepid praise. If either of these situations occurs, you get someone who is Competitive (“No one saw what I did when I was little, so now I’ll show them just how smart/athletic/creative I can be”) or someone who is a Passive/Manipulator (“I never do anything right anyway—so why risk it?”). Having received what they needed at the power and competence stage, children now move on to the next stage of concern at the ages of 6 to 9 years. his is another fun stage during which they’re now playing outside of the home and developing friendships. here are three things they need to master at this stage. First, they need to ind friends; then, they need to ind a best friend (and you hear kids all the time saying, “his is my best friend!”); and last comes what we call “hird party is a threat.” hat is, kids have a best friend, and one day they notice that there’s this other kid across the street with a better set of trucks than their so-called best friend has. Mind you, all parties take notice, and now a jealousy takes place, often resulting in a ight and a switching of best friends. his is a perfectly normal process at this age: kids learning about relationships. he problem occurs when a child is having a diicult time making friends at this age. Perhaps he or she looks diferent or thinks diferently. Or possibly he or she has received little encouragement from the parents to go out and be with friends. If this happens, a child may learn that in order to make friends, he or she has to become a Caretaker (“If I take care of them and do what they need, they will like me. hey really need me”). Or the child may learn that it’s too painful to make friends and so become a Loner (“I can’t make friends, so I’ll just stay by myself and read books or play on the computer. I don’t really need anyone”).

86 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition I have now given you examples of emotional injuries that happen at particular stages of children’s development. What do you think happens to these children when they get older? Ready for this? hey marry each other! he Avoider marries the Clinger. he Isolator marries the Fuser. he Rigid person marries the Difuse. he Competitor marries the Passive/Manipulator, and the Loner marries the Caretaker. hink about some of your friends’ marriages. Can you picture some who would it in this model? (Spend a minute with the couple, processing some marriages they know and how they might it into this model.) Can you igure out where your marriage its into this model? (Spend another minute with the couple to help them igure out their wounds. Some couples are able to get this right away, and some need time to think about it. If they need time, let them know that they will probably igure it out over the course of the work.)

Minimizers and Maximizers
People usually marry those who are injured—that is, did not fully receive what they needed from their caretakers—at the same developmental stage as they are. hey also marry those who have opposite character adaptations and opposite ways of using energy to express themselves. Imago herapy terms these opposite energy characteristics as Minimizer and Maximizer. Anyone who has small children will tell you that they are full of energy, and they use that energy to let us know who they are and how they are feeling. During our development, our caretakers socialize us in such a way that they tell us to either hold in or bind up our energy (such as in the idea that boys don’t feel), or they do not recognize our energy—in which case our energy becomes boundless. So, we learn to either “minimize” our energy or “maximize” it. Minimizers and Maximizers marry each other. hat’s why ights usually sound like this: Partner 1: What you did is absolutely unforgivable! Partner 2: It’s not that bad. Partner 1: You are always late! Partner 2: I was late once, and you keep bringing it up. Seeing to it that we marry people not only who are wounded in the same place as we are, but also who have opposite energy levels, is Nature’s way of satisfying a need to heal itself. How does Nature pull this of? Oddly, it appears that romantic love is used as the process by which two broken and repressed individuals meet in order to try to recover what they are missing. So here we have two innocent and supposedly incompatible people who are forced to meet for reasons that are beyond their comprehension. It is an unconscious process. Romantic love seems to serve as “Nature’s anesthesia” in this process because if you had known the horrible traits your partner has, you probably would not have committed to the relationship. Nature says, “When two incompatible people meet, I’m going to make them believe they are happy. hen, I’m going to rip the blinders of!” Romantic love is Nature’s trick to bring two incompatible people together for the purpose of healing each other. his is not to say that you have what your partner needs. Rather, what

Now. do it again. the word safe appears in your mind as a light. Letting all the cares and troubles and tensions of the day fall away. Become aware of the surroundings: the smells. and holding it. I want to do a guided imagery that will help you access memories from your childhood. . A guided imagery is a way to relax so that you can access your memories more clearly. I will ask you to bring this back with you next week. in this relaxed state. joyful. All the tension washed away by a relaxing low. the caretaker. Letting go. your relationship is more about your own growth than forcing your partner to change. and go into yourself. It is not hypnosis! You will be fully awake the whole time. the better the results will be for you. or present. And in this place of warm safety. You may ind that it makes you feel sad. happy. Childhood Experiences. A deep breath into your diaphragm. Become aware of the woman. Be aware of her feelings and her thoughts. Let your consciousness be on your breathing and on the sound of the music. First. depressed. excited. You can see into your mother’s body and mind and describe her in adjectives: relaxed. let yourself remember and experience her feelings: angry. or you may choose not to visualize at all. nurturer of your life. and things of your childhood home. and letting all the tensions fall away. I will give you some instructions on what to do with your memories. and hold it to the count of four. and what it is not. preoccupied. absent. You see. Guided Imagery So begin to relax. and slowly let it out to the count of eight. And the light shines down upon you in a warm and golden glow.Session Two: Development. as you will ind out soon. so we can put what you will have written into a formula and discover the real reason the two of you fell in love. and record them in your mind. As a child. I want you to begin to become aware of your female caretaker. caring. letting down. Your head and neck. Take a deep breath inside your chest and diaphragm. Now. Your feet and toes. Guided Imagery: Finding Your Imago What I am saying will make more sense to you next week when we inish the exercise I am going to start with you now. You may use your imagination to visualize the things I will say. textures. Now I want you to hold that feeling of relaxation and safety and follow the light as it brings into your awareness your childhood home while feeling totally safe. and that would be all right. rigid. you feel totally relaxed and safe. tense. guilty. and slowly letting it go to the count of eight. At the end of the imagery. legs and calves. Feel the tension leave your stomach and hips. Be there with your X-ray vision in her heart and in her mind. Feel all the tensions leave your body. and Mate Selection • 87 your partner needs is what you lack and need to grow into. confused. See your mothering caretaker’s feelings. Chest and shoulders. Now see her traits. he light begins to low around and touches you and bathes you in safety. he more information you can gather from the imagery. I want to tell you what a guided imagery is. Positives and negatives.

And now. cooking. guilty. See them and their traits in the same ways as you did your male and female caretakers. Grandmother. And now. . preoccupied. Eyeball to eyeball. Positives and negatives. You can see into your father’s body and mind and describe him in adjectives: relaxed. screaming and yelling. gave in. happy. both painful and caring. See your fathering caretaker’s feelings. your shining moment with me was . your shining moment with me was . ignoring you when he was drunk. absent. And remember now your frustrating times with your father. cooking. . . Positives and negatives. Let yourself recall and construct adjectives of your fathering caretaker. As a child. “Dad. depressed. yelled. . Now shift with him and tell him the positives.” and tell him what he does that hurts you the most. . look around in your mind and see anyone else who may have been responsible for your welfare or touched you in signiicant ways. And remember now your recurring frustrations with her. brooded. relive the behaviors between you and your mother: ishing. and record them in your mind. that wounds you the most. confused.” and tell her what she did that was wonderful. . Left the house. left the house. Say to her. minister. . the thing that you do that hurts me the most is . Now. Positive and negative behaviors with your primary female caretaker. . excited. ask your male caretaker to sit down with you. “What I wanted from you and never got was . Now shift with her. joyful. screaming and yelling. or playing with you every day. rigid. Tell him. . . “Mom. Second Edition Let yourself recall and construct adjectives of your mothering caretaker. hardworking. Positives and negatives. “What I wanted from you and never got was . and say to him. Now let the place of childhood fade . your male caretaker.” And tell her what you needed. the masculine. and bring into your mind your fathering image. the thing that you do that hurts me the most is .88 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. tense. and tell her the positives. caring. And now. strict. or playing with you every day.” and tell him what he did that was wonderful. Be aware of his feelings and his thoughts. and you ind yourself on a path with all of your memories. “Mom. Now I would like you to let your fathering image fade. And now I would like you to let your mothering image fade. And remember how you felt and what you did: yelled. Tell him about your pain with him. Tell her. got quiet. Be there with your X-ray vision in his heart and in his mind. And you continue on a path to the light beyond. had died. pushing you away. had died. And remember how you felt and what you did when frustrated. or present. or was ill. he man. talked with friends. Positive and negative behaviors with your primary male caretaker. Now see his traits. Say to him. . Eyeball to eyeball. . . and say to her. At the . or rabbi. Now ask your female caretaker to sit down with you. or was ill.” and tell her what she does that hurts you the most. uncle. . Tell her about your pain with her. that wounds you the most. pushing you away. aunt. Positives and negatives. relive the behaviors between you and your father: ishing. let yourself remember and experience his feelings: angry. ignoring you when she was drunk.” And tell him what you needed. teacher. “Dad.

He then let Diana know he was able to hear her. At the count of 5 to 1. She told Dave that she felt too overwhelmed and too scared to talk. as he might have done in the past. You did not know if you would say the right thing. they felt encouraged because they were able to stay in the room. and he was never there to listen to you. and he would always correct me (sobbing deeply). when you were little. He took some 30 seconds in the session to close his eyes and to go to his safe place. . so they were not able to practice every day. She added that she was scared to talk to him about any of her issues because they were so loaded. I was always so scared to talk (sobbing deeply). he asked his self what he was so afraid of at the moment. Diana visibly exhaled and began to talk. He said that as he felt like leaving. and by doing this. “What did you say?” hey could not hear me. Rather than rescue Diana. Dave mirrored. and Dave volunteered to be the receiver irst. you ind a vehicle of your choice to return you to this place and time and in this room. he session began by checking the homework assigned in the irst session. Diana chose to work some more on the previous session’s issue of being too scared to be noticed. Everyone would say. you will be here alert and awake. Dave talked about how during a heated part of the dialogue. you only had so much time to talk and you had to talk fast. Diana: When we were little. so I had to get it in fast (sobbing). Dave was able to mirror this back. Did I get that? Diana: Yes. He was never there to listen to me. DAVE AND DIANA: SESSION TWO Dave and Diana were noticeably more relaxed in the second session. alert and awake with your memories. Dave mirrored and validated Diana. he was able to calm down and consciously stay in the room. I couldn’t get it out fast enough. he remembered Session One’s lecture about the brain and the ight-or-light response. At the count of 1. It would make me really nervous because I did not know if I would say the right thing.” Dave and Diana were then asked to practice the dialogue process. Dave: So if I’m hearing you correctly. Childhood Experiences. which they have not been able to do in the past. we only had so much time to talk. However. Diana said that she was out of town for a few days. Your father told you that you had a lazy tongue. and Mate Selection • 89 edge where the light is. you will be ready for instructions on what to do with your memories: 5-4-3-2-1 here in this room. She let him know that she was scared to deal with this subject. She told him that she feels as though she drags them down as a couple because she is so serious.Session Two: Development. and you could not get it out fast enough. hey reported that the issues they chose to dialogue about were highly charged and it was diicult to stay within the dialogue parameters. His big insight was “Safety is acknowledging the reptilian part of the brain and then moving on. My father always told me I had a lazy tongue.

but I don’t know how to explain it. I could not be understood! herapist: But I felt it very strongly. they were able to place their wound in the power and competence stage. his is too much of a subject. they were able to discover where they may have been wounded in their development. hey could not hear you. At this point in the therapy.90 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. hey stayed in the moment until Diana felt fully held and contained by Dave. Second Edition Dave: Your father always corrected you. it’s taking up too much time. Dave: So it feels like it’s taking up too much time and somebody’s going to get mad because you are not allowed to have this much time. I imagine you felt sad. It was like being mute. and misunderstood. Dave was simply being taught to listen with empathy. and invisible. Diana: It was so frustrating. Dave: his subject feels too big. After some discussion. I felt my truth! But people did not understand. and everyone would ask what you had said. Dave: So your tongue felt twisted and wouldn’t talk right. Dave: It was like being mute. It was like I did not have a tongue in my mouth. No one understood. alone. his allowed Diana to be fully expressive and be understood clearly by Dave—a healing experience for Diana. For the next 20 minutes. Diana: I always felt that my tongue was twisted and wouldn’t talk right. It was so frustrating (sobbing). It was so frustrating. I can understand that. It’s too much. No one understood. I always feel that way when I have something speciic to say. I can really understand that. which is why he reacts so harshly when Diana calls attention to problems in the relationship and in the activities in which he is . I could not get it out. I felt my words. there was no attempt to assist Dave in “ixing” what was going on for Diana. the therapist presented the development lecture to Dave and Diana. You still feel that way when you have something speciic to say. not understood. Diana: Yes. I’m not allowed to have this much time. Dave saw himself as competitive. Diana: It was so frustrating. Dave was able to hold Diana as she sobbed. You make a lot of sense to me. sad. Diana: Yes. It was obvious that his compassion was now out and being directed at Diana’s pain. Dave had managed to keep his self safe and allow Diana to go past her anger and fear to the sadness underneath. It could not come out. People did not understand my truth. Diana: I did! I felt my feelings. It’s too big! herapist: Mirror that. Dave. and I imagine that you would feel frustrated. Somebody’s going to get mad. In this lecture.

which because of his competitive nature. hen the therapist told Dave and Diana that they were going to experience a process that would begin to make the lecture even more relevant. Childhood Experiences. . hey were able to quiet themselves and go through the imagery with some noticeable tears. In addition. as was discussed in the irst session. they were asked to learn at least one new thing about each other’s childhood through their dialogue.Session Two: Development. last. And. She felt that this also made sense when her lack of praise is considered. and Mate Selection • 91 participating. especially around the childhood memories they just touched on in the imagery. he experience they were about to go through was the guided imagery designed to help them gather information about their childhood. Diana felt that she used passive and manipulative means to get Dave to do things for her. the therapist instructed them to continue their dialogues. Her father also told her that she could not do anything right. he always readily did in his own self-righteous sort of way. Hearing this as often as she did as a child. he therapist then gave Dave and Diana the homework sheets (illustrated on page 94) designed to help them organize their memories. and they were told to bring the sheets back for the next session. Diana began to believe it and often looked for Dave to rescue her. He felt that this makes sense because his father always picked out what he did wrong and never told him that he did a good job.

and a page that says “Childhood Frustrations and Positive Memories of Childhood. Remind the couple that they are writing down the traits of their early childhood caretakers. Work with these clients to help them generate a little information. Couples Developmental Scale Give this scale to the couple prior to doing the development lecture. Some may complain that they have no memories from childhood or that they are all good memories. 92 . however. 2. 1. it is suggested that you review it with them following the guided imagery.” a page entitled “Finding Your Imago” that is recognizable from the large heart on it.” hese sheets will be used by the couple to organize their memories from the guided imagery.HANDOUT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE THERAPIST AND HOMEWORK SESSION TWO he second session consists of three handouts totaling ive pages. It is designed to match what you will say to the couple. It is a good idea to have a copy of the scale for yourself and to use it as a prompter for your lecture. his will allow them to follow along and provide the opportunity to discuss the scale in their dialogues assigned for homework. not information on themselves or their partner. You should emphasize to the couple that they should write as much as possible to get the best results from this exercise. and it should serve as a guide in your presentation to them. Instructions to the Couple for Finding Your Imago and Childhood Frustrations/ Positive Memories of Childhood Sheets his handout actually consists of three pages: “Instructions to the Couple. he instruction sheet and the information on each page should be suicient in helping the couple fulill this task. Let them know that they will get the surprise ending in the next session and should spend this week writing down their memories. As they see how this works—and that it is not about parent bashing.

Childhood Experiences. Also. You might just ind it interesting! 3. and Mate Selection • 93 but rather about understanding the journey—they usually begin to cooperate. the best way to learn how to help the couple ill out the sheets is to ill out one on yourself. his is important because much of the next session is based on the results of these forms.Session Two: Development. Suggest to them that they dialogue this week about how they experienced the imagery and also about their childhoods. he emphasis should be on illing out the forms thoroughly and bringing them back to the next session. he couple should continue practicing the dialogue process a minimum of three times a week. Homework Instructions for Session Two Each partner should receive one of these sheets to keep track of the homework. Take some time to do this prior to seeing couples. Following the guided imagery. . they should have a lot to dialogue concerning their childhoods.

94 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Second Edition 242 SESSION TWO 244 SESSION TWO SESSION TWO 245 246 SESSION TWO .

6 SESSION THREE Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners SUGGESTED TIME FRAME Couple uses dialogue about childhood while therapist ills out the “My Imago” sheets Processing the “My Imago” sheets “Reimaging Your Partner—Developing Empathy” lecture Parent–Child Dialogue “Holding” lecture he Holding Exercise Assigning homework 15 minutes 10 minutes 5 minutes 15 minutes 3 minutes 10 minutes 2 minutes 95 .

hese letters will correspond to the same letters found on the “Finding Your Imago” and “Childhood Frustrations/Positive Memories of Childhood” forms. 2. While you are illing out these forms. To conirm that the couple now fully understands the dialogue process. You will now move the information from the “Finding Your Imago” and “Childhood Frustrations/Positive Memories of Childhood” forms (family and childhood) over to each partner’s “My Imago” form. which. FILLING OUT THE “MY IMAGO” FORM To complete each partner’s “My Imago” sheet. For example. the better. and so on. each ending with a letter from A to E. they should have done for homework. It will take you about 7 to 10 minutes to ill out the forms. To use the Imago forms so that each member of the couple can see that his or her choice of partner was unconscious and based on positive and negative traits of his or her early childhood caretakers.96 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. he more they’ve written down. Correct them when necessary. so this will give the couple time to experience Couples Dialogue in your presence once again. To use speciic processes to help the couple begin developing empathy with each other. with considerably less time spent on giving a lecture to the couple. Second Edition GOALS 1. If they have only written down a few things. 4. ask the couple to do a Couples Dialogue on their childhoods or another important topic of their choice. again. you may want to take a minute to help them come up with more traits. keep an ear open to make sure they are doing Couples Dialogue correctly. As you are illing out their “My Imago” forms. ask the couple for each partner’s “Finding Your Imago” and “Childhood Frustrations/Positive Memories of Childhood” sheets. he “My Imago” form consists of ive sentence stems. over to the sentence stem on the “My Imago” form marked (A). 3. which are the negative traits of early caretakers. move all of the descriptions on the “Finding Your Imago” form under (A). frustrations. You can mix up the traits . STARTING THE SESSION his session involves more work on experiential processes. To begin the process of helping the couple understand that they are allies rather than enemies. Begin this session by illing out the “My Imago” sheets for each partner with the information the couple have brought back from their homework assignment (see below).

Read each partner’s “My Imago” sheets slowly. Every once in a while. Sometimes rather than projecting parental traits on the partner. tell the couple the following: Last week you pulled together memories of your childhood caretakers and wrote those memories on these forms. the couple have recreated their childhoods by selecting a spouse who has the traits of early caretakers! USING THE IMAGO WORKUP When you have inished illing out each partner’s “My Imago” sheet. As a way of introducing your reading of the “My Imago” sheets. he purpose of this analysis is to show the couple that traits of their parents can be found in their spouse. he remaining couples will be able to see its accuracy later on. In many cases (I estimate 80 percent). so that the couple can fully grasp them. Because this session deals with empathy and with developing empathetic feelings between the partners. and see what its. we will take on the traits ourselves. For the partner who says that “nothing its. I have taken your memories about your childhood caretakers and have put them into a formula about your partner. Listening adds to empathy.Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners • 97 of each caretaker. whereas asking questions brings on thinking and tends to create a cognitive mode. Encourage the couple to listen. as parental introjects. you will get a couple who say that nothing its. and discourage questions at this time. And how often have we heard it said that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Continue this process until all ive sentence stems are illed in. some will not. Empathy cannot be present in these symbiotic relationships. You may want to read them twice. you will share them with the couple. couples agree that “My Imago” is an accurate description. ABOUT THE LECTURE his session has two short lectures designed to help the couple begin to think about the importance of empathy in the relationship. As mentioned in the chapter on Couples Dialogue (chapter 3). pain causes people to look inward at their suffering and to pull others into their way of seeing things in an attempt to lessen the pain. Listen as I read them.” ask if any traits it him or her. In efect. Families pass their positive and negative traits on to their members consciously and unconsciously. Don’t bother correcting for grammar or tense. Most of the things will it. Empathic connection is the missing ingredient in most relationships. begin by taking actions that create the right mood—such as softening your voice—to help them stay in a “feeling” mode. Ask them to give it a day or two. We also . because the “My Imago” is a mixture of traits of all the early caretakers. Most couples will say the picture its.

It’s only natural! So. his word actually evolved out of war. You probably experienced it when you irst met. When we do not cooperate with Nature. It’s that sort of drug-induced. You are each other’s healers. or submit. lee. empathic experiences. they came up with the word agape. play dead or freeze. it is best to soften your voice as you present these lectures. But. basically. And that purpose is to recreate the scene from our childhood. to see that. empathy seems to be an easy state to recreate. they sought a way to stop war. he problem is that. thus. and rather than kill them when they came onto Greek soil. if the therapist can help the couple create a safe environment. which—literally translated— means. And when it’s not safe. A second word for love—and the one most important to what we are doing now—is agape [pronunciation: Ah-gah-pay). “When you are in my territory. is a transformative love. . And. and maybe with others before that. Agape love. up until this point. hide. he ancient Greeks had three words that best sum up the process we’ve been talking about. knock-you-down. It takes our enemies and makes them our allies. Second Edition cannot heal our own pain. it can best be healed in a relationship. he lectures are designed to foster curiosity about the processes the couple will learn in the session. hey are designed to open up the couple to the experience of the Parent–Child Dialogue and the Holding Exercise. his is how Nature irst gets two people together. how do you cooperate with Nature? You have to see your purpose in each other’s lives.” And we do this all the time in our wars: We bombed the “Nips” and killed the “Gooks” and feared the “Reds.” And we ind it’s easy to kill when we do not know each soldier as a person. you have seen each other as enemies and have not cooperated with Nature. the-sun-rises-and-sets-on-you kind of love. his healing occurs through empathy.98 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. you have to reimage your partner as an ally rather than as an enemy. therefore. or romantic love. Lecture Three: Reimaging Your Partner—Developing Empathy So. they made them safe. To complement this process.” he Greeks realized that the reason it was so easy to kill is that they had made the enemy a “nonhuman. he irst word is eros. So the Greeks’ idea was to make their enemies human. You see. I will make you safe. Nature seems to have brought together two totally incompatible people for a purpose. You are surrogate parents for each other—each chosen by Nature to give your partner what he or she needs to grow. If a wound was caused in a relationship. After putting their heads together. Luckily. helping the couple ease into these sometimes scary. we will ight. but highly beneicial. so that we can inally get now what we did not get then and. when the generals of ancient Greece grew tired of the ighting that was occurring in their country. The Three Types of Love One of the problems with our language is that we have only one word for love: L-O-V-E [spell out]. it’s an attraction. move on. it’s not safe. and it’s usually short-lived.

You have to transform your partner from an enemy to an ally. hen tell the partner-as-parent (the receiver) to ask the following question: “I am your mother/father/signiicant caretaker.Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners • 99 If we can maintain agape long enough. then it might be possible for partners to speak directly to their parents through their partner to express some of these needs. joy. you will only have time for one partner to do this exercise. we irst need to empathize. with one partner choosing to be the partner-as-parent—or receiver—for the exercise. Ask the sending partner if he or she would rather talk to Mother or Father or perhaps to another signiicant caretaker. and that he or she should listen from the heart. and said softly. It’s using your heart to feel what another is feeling. “surrogate parents” to each other. A young woman once told me a story that took place one afternoon when she was sitting in front of the TV while Lassie was on. we can attain the third type of love: philia— as in Philadelphia. It is based on the idea that Nature has set up couples to be. his is a brotherly type of love in which two people enjoy desireless valuing. At some point. In this session. And the way to do this is through empathy. and an overall feeling of being fully alive. in order to arrive at philia.” his was a true attempt at empathy. But. Empathy Empathy is something that we all probably had when we were younger.) To reimage our partner. so that they can inally get what they did not get as children. the other will do it as homework. but the little girl attempted to understand her mother’s pain. It’s not a sentimental type of brotherly love. Let the receiver know that your instructions will have to be followed carefully. she inally went over to her mother. her 7-year-old daughter walked into the room—only to see her mother crying. the receiving partners will know their partner’s hurt directly and empathetically. So we are now going to do two exercises that should help you begin to reestablish empathy with each other. In turn. What was it like to live with me?” . Trying to make some sense out of this scene. and then again at her mother and at Lassie. (Actually. but one of care and concern about the other— one in which two people work together for each other’s common good. Empathy is being able to see things through the other’s eyes. Have the couple sit facing each other. empathetic communication. he girl looked at her mother and then looked at Lassie. She may not have had the picture right. in a sense. She wasn’t watching the show but was actually crying after having had a stressful day. If this is the case. you have to go through agape. she made her mother laugh so much that afterward she felt much better. “I bet you had a friend named Lassie. PARENT–CHILD DIALOGUE his exercise is designed to help couples begin the process of reestablishing empathy. put her little arm around her. but lost when we were told to look out only for ourselves.

couples are typically quiet and will appear somewhat more connected.100 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. to be handled in a better way. Get ready. see chapter 8. As a way of coming out of the role. this time around. be stopped. because many receivers will report that what the sending partner expressed as a need from the designated parent is exactly what that sending partner has been asking of him or her for years! For example. (Cognitive material will be covered in Session Five as a Behavior Change Request. and be sure to keep the couple in a quiet and empathetic mode. so that the sending partner can talk expressively. You should keep your questions to a minimum. let the sending partner speak freely. If you take a brain .” he receiver may report hearing his or her partner say for years. but you may want to ask the receiver if he or she can now see the sending partner’s pain.” Help the couple make the connection that. At this point. let them know that you’re going to show them one more exercise to heighten this feeling. “You never spend enough time with me. Listening and understanding with empathy are new opportunities to handle the pain better—at long last! At this point. he only other thing the partner-as-parent is permitted to say is “Tell me more about that. ask the partner-as-parent to ask this second question: “I am your mother/father/signiicant caretaker. the sender may have said to the “parent” during the exercise. the relationship has recreated that scene from childhood to enable the pain to resurface and. I would like to know what I can do for you to give you what you did not get as a child. have the receiving partner ask the question “I am your partner now. At the end of this exercise.” Saying anything else will only serve to bring the sending partner into a cognitive mode and should. At the appropriate time. once again. I lied—sort of. here are actually four parts. always keeping in mind that he or she is talking to the parent of choice. “I needed you to spend more time with me.” At this point. Second Edition It is important that the question remain simple and open. I’ll explain. give the sending partner time to say what he or she needs and have the receiving partner mirror it back. You may also want to ask the receiver/partner-as-parent if at any time it felt as though the sending partner were actually talking to him or her instead of to a parent. when the partners are feeling closer and a bit more understanding of each other’s and their own childhoods. the fourth being the heart. The Holding Exercise Start this exercise with the following brief lecture: Remember when I told you that there are three parts to the brain? Well. the receiving partner is under no obligation to give the request to the sending partner. therefore. What did you need from me that you did not get?” Again. the information is meant to further an understanding of the needs of the partner.) he sending partner should be allowed to speak freely for about 10 minutes.

Whether they are left.or right-handed. Somehow. it dies from beating too wildly. “When I was a little [girl. Finally. and you should get the idea. they ind each other! If this happens with two cells. Have the person being held say. For some—especially men—the holding position can be awkward at irst. let the sender know that he or she is no longer talking to parents but to his or her partner in the present tense. “Tell me more about that. we recreate this scene. But if you take a heart cell and put it on a petri dish. so be reassuring. he sending partner should not be holding himor herself up but should be fully supported by the receiving partner (babies do not hold themselves up!).” he idea is for holders to keep senders in their feelings. do you know what it does? It doesn’t die right away. mothers universally hold their babies in the left arm—on the side where the heart is located. If the couple . A brain cell cannot live apart from the other cells. do you know what happens? It dies right away. if you take two heart cells and put them on a petri dish—close to each other. what happens when you put billions of cells next to each other? We believe that this same kind of heart communication occurs between a mother and a child. if possible (a chair with arms will not work). Be sure that he or she has back support.1).” or he or she can mirror back feelings. through some kind of particle or wave energy. So in this holding exercise. THE HOLDING POSITION At this point (see Figure 6.” and have him or her talk about childhood while staying in this hold position. Now. Once you have the hold down. have the partner who was the “parent” or receiver in the Parent–Child Dialogue sit on the loor against either a wall or a sturdy piece of furniture. boy] . and let them know they’re doing ine. . You may have to work with the couple for a few minutes to get the “hold” somewhat comfortable. with their faces about 6 inches apart. It’s the most vulnerable.Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners • 101 cell and put it on a petri dish. such as “hat must have made you feel sad and lonely. Make adjustments for those with injuries or for those whose weight makes the hold diicult. but not touching—can you guess what happens? At irst. they too begin to beat wildly. Position the person to sit with the right leg straight while bending the left leg up. yet safest position we know. and facing the opposite way with his or her arms folded in front. hink of a mother or father holding a baby. . so that you can feel safe and in sync with each other. he cells ind each other through the space and begin to beat together. but then something strange occurs. Let the holder (receiver) know that he or she can only say. And then this heart cell begins to beat wildly or goes into ibrillation. he sending partner will sit on the receiving partner’s right. each cell does what the organ is designed to do—so a heart cell beats). he couple should be as close as possible. hen tell the sending partner to fall to his or her right and into the receiving partner’s left arm. but continues to beat (you see. hip-to-hip.

Dave said that he was experiencing more awareness. Her world revolved around him. you can allow the couple to stay in this position while you talk about the homework. assign the switch-over as homework.102 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.” She also observed that it was easier to do the sad work in the oice with the therapist . “I watched what I do to give things away. Again. “My mother really succumbed to my father.1 Correct Position for the Holding Exercise are feeling connected. If you feel comfortable. and I was the same way. this should enable the holder to see and understand the sender’s feelings and to feel nurturing toward the sender.” Diana added that she became very aware of her passive role. I really felt my mother’s fear. He said that he really became aware of his childhood and how it relates to his marriage. He said. because both partners will not have the time within the session to do this. It helped me to see why I have such a hard time getting in touch with my emotions. Allow the couple to stay in this position as long as time permits. hey immediately ofered that they felt “better” this week. She said. DAVE AND DIANA: SESSION THREE Dave and Diana returned to the third session with their homework in hand. hat’s what it feels like. Second Edition FIGURE 6. My life has been run by fear.

hat’s what I need. but you hide behind me. Dave: Is there more? Diana: Yes.Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners • 103 than it was to do it at home. when I try to ix it. Dave: So. She wondered with the therapist if this was typical. but it does not seem like you have that. Did I get that? Diana: Yes. you just need me to hear it. because when you ix it. he idea of the homework was to help them feel comfortable doing the work at home. While the therapist worked on transcribing the information. he instructed Dave and Diana to dialogue about an issue of their choice. Did I get that? Diana: Yes. when I ix it. Dave: So. Did I get that? Diana: Yes. although it does not seem like I have that. but it comes out at me. it just seeds that you cannot do it. but I hide behind you. Don’t try to ix it. I feel frustrated. if I’m hearing that right. Diana: Yes. Is there anything I can do? herapist: (softly) Just mirror it. Dave: So you are amazed at how much you lean on me and you wish you could step out as an individual. . Did I get that? Diana: Yes. you become like that little girl who could not do anything and your father had to ix it for you. I always hope that it is you who has the conversation when we socialize. you are saying that you prefer that I am the spokesperson when we socialize and you hope that it is me who has the conversation when we socialize. that just seeds the thought that I cannot do it. She just needs you to hear it right now. you want to be grown-up. Did I get that? Diana: hen I become like that little girl who could not do anything. But it comes out as anger toward you. Dave: So. I wish I could get out of there as an individual. My father had to ix it. angry at myself. he therapist assured her that it was typical. I want the words and the courage. I want to be grown-up! Dave: So. Dave: So. It was now time for the therapist to put the information from the homework assigned in Session Two into their respective “My Imago” sheets. You want the words and courage. what you can do is just hear it. It amazes me how much I lean on you as a couple. but that the goal of the therapy was to enable the couple to do the work at home with each other. Diana: I ind it easier to let you be the spokesperson. to let you speak irst. Dave: So you get frustrated and angry at yourself. if I am hearing you right.

Second Edition Diana: It’s scary. whereas others are traits that are sought unconsciously in another person—the Imago match. and they were now listening to each other rather than lashing out and getting stuck in their usual impasse. Diana: Yes. she had taken on herself.104 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. do what they please and what I want does not count. I would imagine you feel sad. united. sharing. to feel loved from the inside. always distracted. And feel: bonding. he reason I come home and isolate so badly is because I know I have to be me up there. It was now time for the therapist to read back to Dave and Diana their “My Imago” forms. I can understand this. seen and heard. crying to get them to understand my discomfort. Diana was now able to understand this concept through the My Imago exercise. listen to Diana’s pain. he therapist told them that many of the things would it. strict. laughter. inancial provider. Parents introject their traits. appreciated. distant. Dave was able to maintain his safety. busy. Now it was time to move on to Dave’s “My Imago” form. confusing. Dave: So. It makes a lot of sense to me. it is because you know you have to spend some time being you up there. I stop myself from getting this sometimes by: not telling anyone and ixing it myself. hated crying or noises. disciplined. Diana’s Imago form read. attention. surprised. when you come home and isolate. To always be: caring. but some would not. his was a very typical response to the results of this Imago form. angry. scared. So that I can get: help to see that I am worthwhile. becoming a ixer. Some of the traits she disliked in her parents. explosive. to count. and squelched fun noises. I am trying to get a person who is: always home. make parties. heir empathy was beginning to low for each other. Diana: It’s hard to step out and just be me. He was equally startled by the accuracy of the results. positive and negative. loving. feeling all the time. warmth. . Diana readily agreed that most of these traits it and was startled that the ones that did not it Dave it her so well. onto their children. and understand her hope of being a “grown-up. Dave and Diana seemed to understand the dialogue process now and were getting quite proicient in it. Dave’s read.” He also understood how sad and lonely she felt in trying to be herself. consistent rules. To be special. sad. being hypervigilant. Some are taken in by the children as their personality traits. He also asked them to consider if the traits that did not it the partner were aspects of themselves. and hidden. Dave: And it’s scary. lonely.

Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners • 105 I am trying to get a person who is: not available emotionally; fearful of Dad; too strong to hold me; always bitching; never takes me anywhere; cold. To always be: loving; available; a good housekeeper; smart about things; provide inancially; strong; and keep the house repaired. So that I can get: to be heard; listened to; and played with. And feel: freedom to have fun; excitement; happy and free. I stop myself from getting this sometimes by: playing with others or outside; always doing the right thing; crying so I can’t be heard; holding in tears; not wanting to do anything; staying out of the way; feeling what I had to say was not worth it. It was at this point that Dave began to cry. He said that it made him sad to know what he was missing, and he lamented, “I know that I deserve it!” He was also able to see that his marriage was Nature’s way of giving him a second chance to get what he needed. He was now able to understand that the impasses with Diana had a basis in his childhood. He was beginning to see that his marriage had a purpose, and he was ready to discover that purpose and begin the healing process. his process would begin with the lecture on the three types of love and the loss of empathy. he therapist told them that empathy was necessary in a relationship, but it is a trait lost in most couples. hen he asked them to participate in the Parent–Child Dialogue as a way to reclaim their empathy for each other. hey readily agreed. Dave decided to be the sender and to talk to his mother in the exercise. he therapist asked them to close their eyes, and he also asked Diana to imagine herself as Dave’s mother who was going to listen to Dave with her heart this time. he therapist suggested to Dave to go back as far in his childhood as he thought he needed to and to talk to his mother as a little boy. hen the therapist asked them to open their eyes, and then he gave Diana a question to ask Dave, with instructions to listen only. Diana: I am your mother. What was it like to live with me? Dave: It was empty . . . sad . . . like you were not there. I did not know you . . . you were always waiting for Dad . . . always working around the house. You never had time for me. You never talked to me. You never held me. (crying) You never hugged me. . . . You never told me you cared. . . . It wasn’t very nice to be with you. (sobbing deeply) I was always scared. Did I do something to make you angry? hen you would start the drinking. I didn’t like living with you . . . didn’t like it. I was afraid, always afraid. Especially on the weekends. I never knew what you would do with the drinking. You were Jekyll and Hyde. Why? Why? Tell me why? (sobbing very deeply) herapist: Let it come out. Dave: Ohh. . . . Oh, it hurts, it hurts! (continues sobbing for a few minutes, Diana listens with empathy now)

106 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition herapist: Diana, ask Dave this question. I am your mother. What did you need from me that you did not get? Diana: Dave, I am your mother. What did you need from me that you did not get? Dave: I needed you to listen to me. I needed you to know I was here. I needed you to be calm. I needed you to be yourself, so I could be myself. I needed you to not be scared, so I was not scared. I needed you to hold me, hug me, tell me I’ll be okay. To know you care. I know you know how. Why don’t you just do it? It was at this point that the process was switched to the Holding Exercise. he therapist asked Dave and Diana to close their eyes and come out of their roles. Now they were to be their adult selves for the process. Next the therapist gave a short and subtle lecture about holding (see page 100), and he helped them into the Holding Position. To get Dave started in the Holding Exercise, the therapist gave him the sentence stem “When I was a little boy . . .” to complete. he therapist instructed Diana to softly mirror back feelings as they came up: “I can see that you felt scared” and “So you felt all alone when your mother did not pay attention to you.” It was very important that Diana not ask questions during the Holding Exercise because this would cause Dave to come out of his feelings and go into his logic. he idea of the Holding Exercise is for the person being held to reexperience feelings from his or her childhood in a very diferent way, in a place that is safe, nurturing, and empathetic. It is also a way to increase the knowledge of the receiving partner that the sending partner has wounds and unmet needs from childhood that are a source of great pain. Dave and Diana were able to inish this 10-minute exercise in a safe and compassionate manner. Dave told Diana more about his childhood, and she softly mirrored back his feelings. He began to look very comfortable in her arms. As is often the case with this subtle and personal exercise, actual dialogue was not heard by the therapist. he therapist spent the time maintaining the moment by providing a safe structure. When Dave had been held long enough, they sat up and wiped each other’s tears. Diana asked a question often heard during this session: “What do I do when I hear him saying things to his mother that I have heard him say to me in the past?” Diana experienced a front-row view of the Imago. Couples fall in love with a person who has the positive and negative traits of their early childhood caretakers. hey then begin to work out frustrations with their partners that have roots in their caretakers. hese two exercises made this idea real to Dave and Diana. hey had begun their conscious relationship.

here are three handout pages (illustrated on p. 109) to be given to the couple this week.

1. My Imago
his form should be illed out by the therapist while the couple is practicing dialogue. Ask them for their completed “Finding Your Imago” and “Childhood Frustrations/Positive Memories of Childhood” sheets from the last session. You will notice that there are ive sentence stems on the “My Imago” sheet with a letter at the end in parentheses. hese letters correspond to a letter next to a section of the “Finding Your Imago” and Childhood Frustrations” sheets. Move all of the information next to the letter from the “Finding Your Imago” and “Childhood Frustrations” sheets to the end of the sentence stem with the corresponding letter on the “My Imago” sheet. For example, at the end of the sentence stem “I am trying to get a person who is (A),” transcribe all of the negative traits of the early childhood caretakers from the “Finding Your Imago” sheet. You can mix up the traits from various caretakers because the Imago is a combination of all of the primary caretakers. After you have completed all ive sentence stems for each partner, read these back to them and let them discuss them briely using dialogue prior to moving on to the lecture on “Reimaging Your Partner—Developing Empathy.”

2. Parent–Child Dialogue
During the session, one partner will experience the Parent–Child dialogue with his or her partner acting as one of his or her parents. At the end of the session, give the couple the “Parent–Child Dialogue” sheet for homework. his sheet contains the two questions they will ask their partner in the role as their partner’s parent. After they are through this process, they will move into the Holding Position to further dialogue their experiences.


108 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition

3. Homework Instructions for Session Three
his sheet gives the instructions for homework following Session hree. Ask the couple to ind some uninterrupted time to set a quiet mood in order to complete this work. hey will each take a turn talking to his or her partner “parent” as described on the “Parent–Child Dialogue” sheet, and then move into the Holding Position for further dialogue. When they have completed the two processes, they should use the space provided on the sheet to write down their partner’s wound and their own wound as they now understand it. Finally, they should ind some time to dialogue about their wounds to increase empathy and understanding.

Session Three: Developing Empathy and Reimaging the Partners • 109







7 SESSION FOUR Reromanticizing the Relationship SUGGESTED TIME FRAME Checking homework “Reromanticizing the Relationship” lecture Caring Behaviors Exercise “Little Surprises” lecture Belly Laughs exercise Assigning homework 10 minutes 5 minutes 20 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes 5 minutes 111 .

the lecture has been designed to be brief and is followed by three exercises that the couple will start this week. If the couple did do the homework. 2. you may want to spend this session doing more work on empathy. hey are beginning to understand their purpose in each other’s life. Begin this session by checking their homework. To check the level of empathy being developed between the partners. from time to time. for example. concentrate on enhancing safety in the relationship. As an added incentive. Typically. STARTING THE SESSION In Session hree. have a couple who have had a bad experience with it or who will not have done the work at all. To emphasize the importance of emotional safety and make the point that pleasure increases the sense of safety. 3. You will. You might.” Because there is much to cover in this session. To create a list of caring behaviors and surprises that when done by one partner will make the other partner feel cared for and safe in the relationship. or help them use dialogue at a deep. and they were given homework designed to reinforce this empathy. with the balance assigned as homework. In either of these cases. and ask what they experienced as they did the work. he found that happy and stable long-term relationships had one thing in common: here was a constant ratio of ive positive behaviors for every . present this week’s lecture. at this stage. In a study by Gottman (1979). “Reromanticizing Your Relationship. After spending 10 to 15 minutes processing their experience from the previous session. connected level. and they are beginning to see each other as being vulnerable and as having behavioral adaptations to signiicant childhood experiences. 4. the couple worked on developing empathy. the couple are beginning to see that to make things better. ABOUT THE LECTURE here are several brief lectures in this session designed to help the couple begin to understand the importance of caring behaviors in the relationship. they have to work together.112 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Once again. To emphasize the importance of daily belly laughs as a way of increasing safety and a sense of well-being. Second Edition GOALS 1. let them know that most couples will later report that they enjoyed this homework assignment in particular. have them do the Parent–Child Dialogue again in the session. emphasize the importance of making the time for this work. Caring behaviors cannot be overemphasized in any relationship.

Lecture Four: Reromanticizing Your Relationship Over the past 3 weeks. And you have to make it safe for your partner in order for him or her to get on with his or her healing. “haannk Yoouu!” or he airms. And you know when you have done this. if we learn to cooperate with this unconscious process by having empathy for each other. and that unconsciously you have been brought together for a reason. what you have to do is come up with a list of Target Behaviors. Also. When conducting this session. you have learned the following: a communication skill. For this to happen. Your partner is going to give you a list of behaviors that. not a machine”). what we are giving them is what we actually want for ourselves. Again. the most important ingredient is not love. caring behaviors in addition to listening to each other using Couples Dialogue. because your partner tells you so. not take care of them”). our old brain feels like it’s going to die. But there is a catch. you have to hit that receptor head-on. leeing. So. In order for your partner to feel cared for. then growth and healing can occur. It’s the soil in which the seed of love grows. Most people have things around their house that they bought for their partners but that just end up as dust collectors. And that’s the irst thing we are going to do today. and the massager ( “I want you to rub my back. if the receiving partner likes opera and receives tickets to the opera from the sending partner. and it can be summed up in one sentence: Your partner is not you! Remember: I told you that there are three parts in the brain. A point emphasized in the lectures is that the behaviors have to be pleasurable to the receiving partner. if you do them. Somewhere on one of those parts is a small area that we call the care receptor. and mate. with respect to both pain and care. his lecture and session are designed to give the couple the idea that there is a need to lood each other with positive. playing dead or freezing. . Does this sound familiar? Our house is littered with things that we never asked each other for: here’s the aquarium (“I like to look at ish. and so you want to have these chemicals lowing as much as possible.Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship • 113 one negative behavior. Buying season tickets to the football game when the receiving partner does not like football is not a caring behavior. A typical indication of this is in the gifts or behaviors we give to our partners. you should stress understanding the other’s needs. When it’s safe. So how do you increase safety? By increasing pleasure! Experiencing pleasure in your life actually releases chemicals in your brain that give a sense of well-being. However. this is registered as a caring behavior. nurture. It wasn’t until we got the idea that we have to listen that we started hearing what it is partners really need in order to feel cared for. Emotional safety is the real number one. the importance of safety in the relationship. and this is what you would like to do a lot of in your relationship. Remember that when it is dangerous. we will play. or submitting. and it defends itself through ighting. will make him or her feel cared for and feel safe with you as a result. he Caring Behaviors Exercise creates a sense of safety in the relationship that allows the hard work to be done without fear of losing connection. She gushes and says. In many cases. “his is just what I needed!” But we spend a lot of time missing this receptor. hiding. become a willing participant in helping the couple enjoy the processes. but emotional safety.

114 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition I’m going to get you started on this exercise today and have you inish it as homework. hen I am going to talk to you about two other ways to bring safety into the relationship. he nice part about what we are going to start today is that it doesn’t require growth; it requires you to restart behaviors you probably once did in the relationship but have stopped over time. You will also receive speciic information about your partner on how he or she feels cared for by you.

Keep in mind that couples presently do some things in the relationship that make their partners feel cared for. Too often, however, they don’t do them enough, or they don’t realize how special their behavior is to their partner— either because they are never told or because they’re not listening when the partner thanks them.

The Caring Behaviors List
“Hit My Care Button”
In the irst part of the exercise, you will be helping the couple develop a list of behaviors that each partner does now that, when they are done, makes each of them feel loved and cared for—behaviors that hit their care buttons. his session should be light and fun-illed, so it helps if you go in with a carefree and playful attitude. Start by having each partner list one or two behaviors that it this description: “I like it when you make me cofee in the morning,” or “I like it when you hand me a towel to dry of after my shower.” When they are done, have them each read the behaviors to the other partner, using the Couples Dialogue to mirror back what they heard and validate that the behavior is special. You want them to understand that caring behaviors allow the partner to feel cared for, to feel special, and to experience other positive feelings. When they are inished reading their entries, encourage them to do these special behaviors more often so that the partner may continue to feel cared for in the relationship. Instruct them to add more items for homework so each partner will have additional caring behaviors to choose from.

“You Don’t Send Me Flowers Anymore”
When couples are in their early romantic stage, they often do many things that make the partner feel special, such as making tea, opening doors, giving back rubs, or cooking gourmet dinners. As relationships move into power-struggle stages, these behaviors are often forgotten. he second part of the Caring

Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship • 115 Behaviors Exercise is designed to resurrect the behaviors that once showed caring feelings. Have the couple list behaviors that their partner once did that made them feel cared for and that, if they were done again, would make them feel cared for once again: “I liked it when you opened the car door for me. It made me feel special.” Another might be “I liked when you cooked me dinner on Friday nights. I looked forward to the end of the week.” Be careful to guard against the couple who may try to use this as a weapon to prove the point that the partner has changed. If this happens, let them know that people do change and that romance wears of. What came naturally in the beginning of the relationship will now take a conscious efort, but hopefully this efort will create a new habit that will eventually take no work at all. With this exercise, the partners will give each other some behaviors that will increase pleasure. he idea of this part of the exercise is to make the couple aware of their earlier caring behaviors and the positive efect these behaviors had on the relationship. Again, have the couple dialogue their list, and encourage them to reinstate these behaviors. Remind them that by doing so, they will bring safety into the relationship. his will enable them to begin to work toward healing each other’s childhood wounds. Safety has to become a promise in the relationship, and caring behaviors create safety. Additional behaviors should be added as homework to give each partner more choices.

“Go Ahead . . . Make My Day”
he third part of the Caring Behaviors List gives the couple the opportunity to ask for caring behaviors they have not asked for because of fear or embarrassment. Some couples may not have anything to put on this list, but this will give them the opportunity to do so in the event they have kept things to themselves—especially out of fear. Expect anything from the mild to the outrageous, and be sure to give the couple the opportunity to dialogue about this at home if they are too embarrassed to do so in the session. Additional caring behaviors can also be added and dialogued as homework.

he Little Surprises Exercise is more of a lecture to encourage the type of caring behaviors at home that feel like surprises:

So, you have the Caring Behaviors List, and let’s say one of the behaviors is getting a cup of tea. So, you make your partner a cup of tea, and the next day you do the same, and the next day you do the same, and the next day you do the same. Although this is certainly nice, what has happened to the “gift” of a cup of tea? It becomes routine. It’s similar to having an ice cream cone. You know how great that irst lick tastes, but as

116 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition you get to the end of the ice cream cone, it may not taste as good as the irst lick, and you wonder why you even indulged in the unnecessary calories. he solution to this is to have a lot of irst licks. And the way to do this with caring behaviors is with surprise. You want to get in the habit of having a lot of surprises in your relationship that can range anywhere from an afectionate note slipped into a briefcase to an unexpected dinner. Again, keep in mind that the surprise has to be something that your partner wants. A way to igure out what he or she wants is to listen for what we humorously call random droppings. hese are comments that you’ll hear your partner say all the time, but that you probably don’t pay much attention to. You might be going through the mall, and you’ll hear her say, “hose are nice earrings,” or, “I want to get this book one day.” Make a note of this, and go back and buy it for her as a surprise. You cannot go wrong because you heard her say she wanted it, and she’ll enjoy being surprised. As a matter of fact, make the commitment to surprise each other once a month. Just the anticipation of the surprise can keep you on a happy edge.

Work on this with the couple for a few minutes. Encourage them to start a list of behaviors that might happily surprise their partner. Have them make the commitment to surprise each other at least once a month.

his exercise is usually a lot of fun. Often when couples come to therapy, they’ve already quit having fun in their relationship. If you ask them when the last time they had a good laugh together was, many of them cannot remember. But laughter really is a great medicine. A sustained belly laugh releases endorphins into the brain—natural drugs that create a sense of well-being. Because there are very few ways of releasing endorphins naturally, other than through extreme exercise or an orgasm, it’s best you stick with belly laughs in your oice. Let the couple know that through the release of endorphins, they will experience a sense of well-being. And when they have this sense of well-being, they will feel safe. If they have their own way of creating a belly laugh, they are welcome to use it. I will ofer a few suggestions here. Some couples may ind them silly, and that’s okay! Just be sure to encourage them. By the way, it helps if you can begin to loosen up and have fun with them as well. 1. Butterly kiss. he couple face each other and get close enough to put their eyes together so that when they blink, they are tickling each other with their lashes. 2. Suck and blow. Ask one partner to take out a license or a credit card. If you suck on the card, it will stick to your mouth. he object of the game

Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship • 117 is for them to suck and blow the card back and forth between each other. heir mouths should be less than an inch apart, and while one sucks the card, the other blows it to them. he fun enters into play when they drop the card—they end up kissing! (Obviously, I don’t recommend that you demonstrate this with the couple: they’ll igure it out.) 3. I can do that. Have the couple stand across from each other. Have one partner make a body motion and say, “I can do this. Can you do this?” he other partner does the movement, adds another, and says, “I can do that. Can you do this?” he irst partner then adds a motion and says the same, and the game continues until they cannot add a motion and are—at this point—laughing at the silliness. Caution: Belly laughs are contagious, and you may ind yourself laughing along with the couple. Enjoy! At the conclusion of these three exercises, you will be explaining one more homework assignment (Mutual Relationship Vision), but also strongly encourage the couple to follow through on all homework and add caring behaviors to their daily routine.

he couple are going to come up with a Mutual Relationship Vision (shown on page 124 and located in the Homework/Handouts) in which they will be writing down what their “dream” marriage would look like. Sometimes when we write things down as a goal, we can make them come true. In the irst part of the assignment, each partner is to write down on the “My Dream Relationship” worksheet his or her own dream marriage. Instruct them to write in the present tense and to start out with the word We. For example: “We take walks together three times a week” or “We are inancially secure.” To give them additional ideas and suggestions, hand out the sample sheet “John and Jane Doe’s Dream Relationship.” After they have written down their individual visions, they are to come together and dialogue about their visions, combining the items on which they agree. hen they are to write these combined items down on the third sheet, “Our Dream Relationship.” his combined vision is very similar to the business plan of a small company. If it is written down, the couple can treat the vision as a goal. Encourage them to post the vision in an easily visible place and to review it monthly until they have attained their dream marriage.

118 • Short-Term Couples Therapy, Second Edition

When Dave and Diana returned for the fourth session, they were promised a little fun. he last 3 weeks had been productive, yet emotionally draining for them. In a marriage, all work and no play make for a very dull relationship that feels unsafe to the partners. Again, Session Four is about reinstating caring behaviors and creating safety through pleasurable activities. First, however, the therapist had to check homework. hey were able to inish the Partner-as-Parent and Holding Exercises with each “parent” as instructed. Diana wished she had more time to work on the homework because she felt she learned a lot. She said, “he big thing I learned is that I have a hard time being held. I can let people hold me, but I am not always present as they do this. I learned a lot from that.” She also noticed an increase in her empathy for Dave. She recalled that previously if Dave shut himself of from her when she ofered to help him, she would say, “Fine!” and storm of. his week when he did that, she stayed with him and said to herself, “He needs to be loved right now.” Dave said he recognized when Diana did that and appreciated it. Dave said he had a positive experience in using the process with Diana as his father. He said when she asked the irst question, “What was it like to live with me?” he had an experience that was mostly cognitive. When she asked him, “What did he need from Father that he did not get?” things became very emotional. He was able to say a lot of things to Diana that he wished he could have said to his father, and felt like he got a lot of his chest. he most surprising part for Dave was when Diana held him. He said that he felt an excitement that was indescribable. He said, “It felt so freeing.” Dave and Diana both asked a very typical question for this stage of the therapy: “Will this get easier and safer to do outside of the oice?” Dave and Diana were experiencing one of the downfalls of short-term therapy—the fear of losing the feeling of therapeutic support once the sessions are completed. he therapist reassured them that although this is a hard process, if they commit to doing the work they are being taught, things would get easier. hey were also reassured that they could return, if they needed to, for a “tune up.” For several years, the atmosphere at home had become unsafe and a place where mean remarks and distancing were prevalent. It was unrealistic for Dave and Diana to think that this atmosphere would change overnight, but they could do it over time if they committed to the processes they were learning, thereby creating safety on a conscious level. It was important to validate their fear, and at the same time, give them hope in the processes they are learning. he lecture about the importance of safety in the relationship, with its suggestion that one way to increase safety is to increase pleasure, was presented. In Session Four, Dave and Diana learned three ways to create pleasure. hey began by making their Caring Behaviors List of things they used to do for each other, of things that they do now for each other, and of things they fantasized doing for each other that would make each feel loved and cared for. he therapist asked them to begin the list by writing down two behaviors under each

Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship • 119 sentence fragment and then inish the list for homework. As part of the session, they engaged in Couples Dialogue about the two behaviors. he therapist then reminded them that this dialogue was to be fun. Dave: I love when you acknowledge things I’ve done without my bringing it up. Diana: So, if I am hearing you correctly, you love it when I acknowledge things you have done without having to point it out. Did I get that? Dave: Yes. It makes me feel appreciated and worthy, as though I did not do it for the acknowledgment. Diana: So, when I acknowledge you, you feel like you did not do it for the acknowledgment and you feel appreciated and worthy. Can you tell me more about worthy? Dave: Yeah. . . . Making me feel worthy lets me know that things are worth doing. It’s knowing that I did it for me, partially, and not for someone else. Yet having it acknowledged gives it an extra plus. Diana: So, when I make you feel worthy, it lets you know that things are worth doing. You know that you did it for you and not because you felt like you had to do it for someone else. Having things acknowledged gives what you do an extra plus. Did I get that? Dave: Yeah. It kind of lets me know that I did it without having to do it. I did it, and it was accepted and appreciated. I never got that. Diana: So, being acknowledged without calling attention to what you did lets you know that you did it without having to do it. It was accepted and appreciated, and you never got that as a kid. herapist: Can you validate that? Diana: I can really validate that! I think it is really cool! You look happy and sound happy to share that with me. Dave: You got it! herapist: Nice! Dave, are you ready to hear Diana’s caring behavior? Dave: Sure! Diana: Okay. I feel loved and cared about when you come up behind me and hug me. It must feel safe because I really love when you do that. Dave: So, you really love and feel cared about when I come up behind you and hug you. It feels safe to you. Diana: Yeah. As I said that, I realized that it must feel comfortable to me because I don’t have to give anything back. I just receive. It’s not like me having to hold you too. So in getting hugged that way, I feel that I am just in receiving.

However. Dave and Diana spent the next 25 minutes going over and dialoguing about the list they created.120 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. he rest of the list would have to be developed as homework—a list of 15 to 20 behaviors that each wanted the partner to give to him or her in order to feel loved and cared for. Second Edition Dave: So. with a cellular phone. A quick game of “I Can Do hat!” produced hilarious body movements and uncontrollable laughs.” Surprises cause what we call “gush” reactions: “Oh.” which had both Dave and Diana holding their sides for a few minutes. and I imagine that you do feel safe and that you do feel cared for by me. he therapist instructed them to give the partner at least one caring behavior a day. when I hug you from behind. caring behaviors are important. his simple act would begin to increase the safety in the relationship. otherwise. Dave and Diana played and laughed hard with each other. she will likely hear. hey knew immediately that they had to do it more often. It’s safer for some reason. Performing the behaviors as outlined in the Caring Behaviors List was essential. surprises Diana. he is more likely to get a gush reaction. if she gives him the gift of the latest game software for his computer. and they were given instructions by the therapist to do just that. But if he buys that original piece of art she had her eye on. even if they did not feel up to it. it was. it feels safe because you do not have to hug back. However.” he therapist told them to try for the “It’s just what I wanted!” reaction because that’s what a good surprise does: provides what someone wants even when it is not requested. as we know. Pleasure seems to need variety. When they completed their laugh. adding safety and pleasure to the relationship will take more work than engaging in caring behaviors. and it is equally important to give to the partner the caring behaviors that each needs in order to feel loved and cared about. Dave and Diana learned that in a conscious marriage. if Diana surprises Dave with tickets to the theater. the engineer. Dave and Diana experienced another method of creating safety and pleasure in their relationship: high-energy fun or belly laughs. You are just in receiving and you feel loved and cared for. the graphics artist. Dave and Diana shared a prolonged smile. I can understand that. If Dave. Dave and Diana were to make a commitment to surprise each other at least once a month. hey commented how it had been a long time since they had a good laugh together. Diana: Yeah. his was followed by a game of “Suck and Blow. And in this session. For the next 10 minutes of the session. Belly laughs should . he only rule is that there were no rules except for the activity to be pleasurable to both of them. “It is just what I wanted!” Partners need to listen to and observe the hints the other gives in order to select the right surprise. he might get a disappointing reaction. he therapist suggested that they pepper their days with new experiences—“surprises. Likewise. hey were educating each other on behaviors that created safety and caring in their marriage. it becomes routine. this is great! I love it. she might get an ambivalent reaction.

and be creative. Dave and Diana commented about how hard that would be to accomplish. And when the reptilian brain learns this. it will let the person play. It is a behavior that creates a sense of pleasure and well-being and lets the reptilian brain relearn that the situation is safe. nurture. work. have sex. A belly laugh may take 5 minutes or less and is a behavior that should be used to replace criticism. . Safety is something Dave and Diana now want to strive for in their marriage.Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship • 121 happen once a day with a couple. but they recognized that they had to try.

2. Give them the second sheet. if any one behavior were to be performed. 1.” Upon completion.” as an example.” which is basically a sheet that each partner uses to record ideas concerning his or her “ideal” marriage. the couple should have about 15 items that would describe their ideal marriage. Our Dream Relationship. More items can be added to the list at any time. he object is to ofer each other a long list of behavior choices. if possible. and tell them to begin each sentence with the pronoun We. setting. write them down on the “Our Dream Relationship Worksheet. and they should also spend time dialoguing their lists in a safe. as if theirs is already an ideal marriage. his list should be placed somewhere visible 122 . Caring Behaviors List his sheet should be given out following the “Reromanticizing the Relationship” lecture. Have them dialogue each of their hopes individually and. if there is agreement. even romantic. Ask that the couple write their notes in the present tense. “John and Jane Doe’s Dream Relationship.” It is important for partners to know that they should each have a fairly extensive list of caring behaviors to give each other. he irst is the “My Dream Relationship Worksheet. After each has compiled an extensive list. Mutual Relationship Vision: Dream Relationship Worksheets his handout consists of three pages that are given to the couple at the end of the session for homework. instruct them to come together to dialogue their two lists in an efort to integrate them into one list. he couple will begin their work with you on this handout and then be instructed to complete it for homework. the partner would feel loved and cared about. he full instructions for this list can be found in the text under “Caring Behaviors Exercise.HANDOUT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE THERAPIST AND HOMEWORK SESSION FOUR Examples of the handouts are shown on page 124.

Simon Says. . they are instructed to complete their “Mutual Relationship Vision: Dream Relationship Worksheets”) and post them somewhere visible. It instructs them to complete the Caring Behaviors List. or Patty Cake).Session Four: Reromanticizing the Relationship • 123 in the couple’s home and reviewed at least once a month using Couples Dialogue to remind them of the direction in which they hope to take their relationship.. Be sure to remind the couple to keep track of the number of times they have performed each homework task by checking the list on the homework page. Finally. hey are also told to have at least three belly laughs or to participate in some high-energyfun game (e.g. 3. Not-it. he couple should also be instructed to perform one of the caring behaviors daily in an efort to get them used to the importance of these behaviors in the relationship. Homework Instructions for Session Four his sheet should be given to the couple at the end of the session.

Second Edition 252 SESSION FOUR SESSION FOUR 253 SESSION FOUR 255 256 SESSION FOUR .124 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.

8 SESSION FIVE Restructuring Frustrations SUGGESTED TIME FRAME Checking homework “Blueprints for Growth” lecture Behavior Change Request process Assigning homework 5 minutes 15 minutes 35 minutes 5 minutes 125 .

without even knowing what their frustrations are about. we believe that you cannot change a behavior until you fully understand your partner’s need for you to change the behavior. as we will show later. To emphasize that change is slow and not easy and that giving one’s partner what is needed is healing to the partner and. part of his or her lost self. In Imago herapy. 5. In this session. he problem is that couples. Otherwise. present them in a way that cannot be heard. frustrations can often be “mile markers” for growth. ABOUT THE LECTURE his is a very important lecture to help the couple understand that marriages are about personal growth and becoming “whole. Others are major. 2. STARTING THE SESSION Couples experience frustrations with each other every day. and in part. you will help the couple understand the real source of their frustrations. at the same time. 4. he problem is not that the couple have frustrations. they are right. To emphasize to the couple the importance of safety in restructuring frustrations. Ask them about their dialogue on the caring behaviors. and you will teach them to phrase the frustrations in such a way that they can both be heard and perhaps changed. and then inquire about the belly laughs they had this week.” and they are now being given the opportunity to reclaim these lost parts. To make the point that frustrations are desires stated negatively. Some of these frustrations are minor. such as the agitation that one partner experiences when the other stays out later than expected.126 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. the . After spending 5 minutes checking their homework. You will begin this session by checking the homework from the last session. Second Edition GOALS 1. To have the couple fully understand that their frustrations with each other correspond directly with parts of themselves that are “lost. such as the annoyance that one partner may feel when the other forgets to put a dish away.” Many couples observe that they have made no changes in behavior yet. on the contrary. 3. Look over each partner’s Caring Behaviors List to make sure there are enough behaviors listed so that the sending partner has ample choices. To have the couple understand the phrase “Your partner has the blueprint for your growth” and understand that the sender’s list of Behavior Change Requests being developed is the receiver’s blueprint. present this week’s lecture.

we said that we are energy from that big bang of 15 billion years ago. our actions. the nature of people or situations. Our energy.” When we think. It has been said that opposites attract. Our feelings represent an energy inside us. if the receiving partner understands that by stretching into the new behavior requested by the sending partner he or she grows too. the receiving partner can understand the sending partner’s need for a behavior change empathically. or gestures. the same breed of dogs. through what some might call intuition. acting. and we give it expression through words. we did some work that helped you feel safe in the relationship. Partners in committed. and yet we have often seen couples where both partners like biking. we are trying to grow into our fullest potential. tears. To reach our full potential. In addition. the request begins to be seen as having a purpose and to make sense for his or her individual growth. his lecture and exercise will help the couple understand that the places where the partner is most frustrated with him or her are the places that he or she most needs to develop. however. If. there is a more understanding attitude toward the changes. and. and this is good because today is when the growth begins. When presenting this lecture. he instructions for doing this are in the forms section of this chapter. he process of romantic love and the power struggle has taught us that partners fall in love with the parts they were told to turn of in their childhoods. when we sense. hese desires and requests will become the Blueprint for Growth for the receiving partner.Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 127 change is coercive and typically short-lived. Lecture Five: Blueprints for Growth In the last session. When we act on something. we try to understand the energy outside of ourselves. we are considered “whole. You’ll recall that we view relationships as a growth experience—but what are we trying to grow into? Going back to the irst session. When we have all four of these ways of expressing ourselves. or they both have brown hair and blue eyes! So it is not so much that couples have opposite traits or interests as it is that they have opposite ways of expressing themselves. conscious relationships can lead each other back to wholeness with full use of all expressive parts. You will emphasize to the couple that the frustrations will need to be reworded so that the receiving partner can hear them—through desires and requests. and playing cards. dancing. or potential. hiking. we are using and expressing our logical energy. Sensing people are also aware of their bodies and may show that through stylish dress. his lecture emphasizes that the socialization process asks family members to give up certain ways of expressing themselves to live in a family—be it thinking. our feelings. we expend a physical energy to accomplish tasks and get things done. we need all four ways of expressing ourselves. and our “sensing. or sensing. expresses itself in four ways: through our thinking. use the Socialization and Mate Selection form to illustrate what you are saying to the couples.” . feeling. and that as children in development. or experiencing pleasure or pain to greater depths.

” How do we know what to do to reclaim these parts? Try listening. When our parents reinforce the same messages over and over again—“Don’t do anything!” “You can’t do anything right!” or “Just sit there. “Quit feeling!” to keep the partner from making us anxious. because your partner has been screaming it out at you all along! And herein lies the problem: We cannot hear a scream. And at irst. and spend some time with me!” Why does this happen? Because the part our partner has and uses begins to “tickle” the very part we were told to turn of. parents usually discourage two of these energy expressions. we want to know what you think about this!” or “Sex is bad” or “Your body is bad. we tend to socialize boys to think and do. however. we adapt and become able to develop the energy expressions we retain to a heightened degree.” And the Feeler/Senser says. Because we lose parts of ourselves. I love how passionate she is about things. the main way we express ourselves may not be as intense through our thinking. we just don’t use it as fully as our partner does. maybe our partner’s feelings stir up the part in us that was told not to feel. the part that we’ve been screaming at is exactly the part we need to reclaim in ourselves in order to become “whole. and girls to feel and nurture. so we scream. But what happens to those parts that we once loved in our partner? After a while. this is great! he hinker/Doer sees the Senser/Feeler and says. On the other hand. we actually begin to resent them! We start to say things like “Quit taking things so personally! You’re so oversensitive!” Or we react with “You insensitive jerk! Why does everything have to be logical? Quit working so hard. In many cases. Or the hinker/Senser marries the Doer/Feeler. that might tickle the acting part and go against the “Don’t do—you can’t do anything right!” messages we received as children. the only way we know to make the tickle stop is to scream at that part of our partner. “Oh. my gosh! She feels so deeply. What do you think happens to these children when they get older? hey marry each other! he hinker/Doer marries the Senser/Feeler. “Don’t feel!” “Boys don’t feel!” or “Don’t feel that way!” or they may not validate our feelings. But in truth. “Don’t think!” “hat’s a stupid idea!” “Girls don’t think!” “Quit thinking!” or they may ignore our thoughts—and we might lose that means of expressing our energy.128 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. In truth. When someone yells at us. hey may say. for instance. his doesn’t mean that we cannot think.” and so we lose our ability to sense. Or the hinker/Feeler marries the Doer/Senser. Consider the blind person whose hearing and feeling become sharper in order to compensate for the lack of sight. our old brain becomes defensive. Or they may say. You see. we may lose our ability to act or to do things. when we are children. I’ll do that!”—or when they ignore our abilities. and women can be hinkers/ Doers. “He’s so smart! He owns and manages three businesses!” And we fall in love with these parts that we’re missing in ourselves. “Quit doing so much!” Similarly. When our partner does too much and expects more out of us. we need to socialize people to do all four. Second Edition However. Keep in mind that our gender is not necessarily a factor in determining which parts we’re lacking. Men can be Sensers/Feelers. and so we lose our energy expression of feeling. they may say. and we . and to do so we have to reclaim those missing parts for ourselves so that we can at last be “whole”—having all four parts available to us as means of expressing our selves. more likely. “Don’t trust your gut!” “Who cares what you are sensing. In our culture. it’s not that we don’t have the part.

Growth can only come when we give it as a gift. “You insensitive jerk! Can’t you feel?” chances are you need to reclaim your feelings. “I want you to understand my feelings with me. I would like you to mirror back to me what it is that you suppose I am feeling.” A request such as this would most likely be given to the partner who is the hinker/Doer—a person who usually runs from feelings. “doable” behaviors that. he exercise will then go one step further by taking the list of desires and changing it into a list of speciic Behavior Change Requests. But there is a catch! he behaviors that one asks of the partner are always the hardest for that partner to do. For instance. Behavior Change Requests (BCRs) are positive. it’s important to encourage the hinker/Doer to do the BCR—to “stretch” into the part that was turned of in childhood. without expecting anything in return. if done by the partner.” and give a BCR of “When I’m feeling sad. he requests on the list may be diicult to do. he or she will be able to meet your needs and—as a bonus—will reclaim a lost part of himself or herself. you will receive your blueprint. .Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 129 cannot take in what’s being said. you will begin the process of giving your partner the blueprint for his or her growth. however. hus. It will. We believe that behind every frustration is a desire that needs to be expressed. Before we begin. Keep in mind that growth is not mandatory. and the rest will be assigned as homework. educate your partner about your needs in a way that he or she can hear. will heal a wound or give that partner what he or she needs to grow. yet they are what both partners need: hese requests address what one needs from the other and what the other needs to do to reclaim the parts of self that have been turned of. it can usually be heard by the partner. that’s not a gift at all—that’s a trade. In turn. his is what we call unconditional love. Likewise. he trick is for the partner to present it in a way that we can hear. his is one of Nature’s little secrets: Our partner has the blueprint for our growth. But if your partner has been screaming at you. I’d like you to sit with me and hold me while I cry. When we give and expect something in return. Today. If your partner is able to “stretch” to do the behavior. and what we will be doing will not change your partner. Remember to tell couples that the BCR list is actually a blueprint for growth. If the frustration can be changed into a positive desire. and that’s what we are going to start today with the exercise. a partner may desire. if he or she has said. BEHAVIOR CHANGE REQUEST PROCESS his exercise will teach couples how to take their frustrations and list them in a way that their partner can not only hear but also do something about. keep two things in mind: We’re only going to start it today. “What are you crying about? Just think it through!” then thinking is probably your lost part.

work with them on changing these to desires. I would like you to do this 80 percent of the time. For example. Restructuring Negative Behaviors Form After the couple have written down their frustrations. he request should be written on the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” form.130 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. requests are given as gifts. For those couples who understand the concepts you have delivered. Frustration Ladder In this session. Included in the handouts are two ways to conduct the Behavior Change Request Exercise. use the “Restructuring Frustrations” form.” he reason for adding a percentage. Second Edition Starting the Exercise Your irst task in this session will be to make a decision. go a little further by taking the desire and making it a speciic Behavior Change Request. “I hate when you are late” can be changed to “I would like you to be on time. his form is more complete and tends to encourage the deeper feelings to be discussed during this session. a desire does not signal the brain to become defensive. his is the form of choice for most couples. hey do not have to show the partner their list. have each partner read his or her BCR using Couples Dialogue to discuss the request. I would like you to pull over and call me to let me know. Remember. stating how many times a week. tell them to jot down two mild frustrations on lines 9 and 10. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late. Have them write it down on the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” form. they will complete the rest at home. for most couples. Use the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” form for those couples you suspect may not be psychologically minded—who do not want to deal with deep feelings or childhood vulnerabilities. and the one giving the gift should not be set up for failure. hey will use this to rank their frustrations from 1 to 10. or the like is that you do not want to set the request up as a failure. he desire “I want you to be on time” becomes “I would like you to be home within 15 minutes of the time that you say you are going to be home. and doable behavior.” It’s much easier to hear a desire. measurable. whether using the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” or “Restructuring Frustrations” form. start with the Frustration Ladder. with 10 being the mildest frustration. Let receiving partners know that the . are in touch with feelings. you will have the couple get started in the work and assign the remainder as homework. and understand how one person’s behavior afects another. he purpose of the Frustration Ladder is to help the couple organize their frustrations in a visibly structured manner. For this session. All couples. Next. Give them the “Sample Restructuring Negative Behaviors” form for reference. Now that the frustrations have been changed and recast into a positive.

Begin by having each partner pick a frustration from the Frustration Ladder and have them transfer it to Box 1 (write Frustrating Event) on the “Restructuring Frustrations” form. instruct the couple to convert their frustrations into desires that are worded positively and write them in Box 5 (Desire). Ask them to take a moment to determine the hidden fear and then to write it in Box 4 (write Hidden Fear). Ask them to write down the feeling they experience when their partner behaves in this way in Box 2 (write Feeling Response). Tell the couple that people usually behave in certain ways because of an underlying fear. and they will feel uncomfortable hearing it. they will typically behave in a certain way. At this point. Or perhaps. Remind them that feelings are one word and that a person can experience several feelings at one time. When people experience a feeling. receivers are not making a commitment to perform the behavior but are only committing to hearing the request and to understanding the sender’s point of view on their need for the change. so tell the couple to deal with all feelings with Couples Dialogue.Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 131 behavior they will hear will likely challenge their adaptation. When couples are given a moment to think. Have them write down their behavioral response to the feeling experienced in Box 3 (write Behavioral Response). At this point. they may experience powerful feelings when their work is not appreciated because they are afraid of becoming invisible and inefective. he couple should be given the instructions to continue their lists for homework and dialogue several requests with the partner. Hand the couple the “Sample Restructuring Frustrations” form to follow along. It may take the couple a moment to think about this because this may be the irst time they are hearing this information. it causes Partner 2 to feel a certain way. have the couple develop three positive and doable BCRs based on the desire and write them in the three boxes on the bottom of the “Restructuring . Recalling that a frustration is a desire stated negatively. the reaction to the partner’s lateness as actually relecting a fear that they will be left alone. Tell the couple that when Partner 1 behaves in this way. they react strongly to their partner’s telling them what to do because they fear they will be smothered when the partner makes all of their decisions. It is also very convenient for the couple to dialogue and gives more choices of behavior changes for the receiving partner. the partners begin the process of changing the frustrations into desires. Restructuring Frustrations Form his form seems more complicated but lows in such a way that it gives a partner a deeper understanding of the other’s frustration. they may recognize. his homework may cause tense moments. It is important for them to maintain their safety and mirror back so that the sending partners know they are being heard. for example. In still another scenario. Finally. as well as several blank forms.

have him or her dialogue one box at a time as in the example below: Partner 1: I get frustrated when you come home late. If that is the case. Is there more? Partner 1: Yes. All of the requests should relate to the frustration being addressed. You will never see a request by a Feeler for the hinker to think more. At this point. but by stretching into this behavior he or she will gain the part that was turned of in childhood. he couple’s frustrations lie in the parts of each other that are turned of. You may not have time for both partners to dialogue their individual sheets. It’s important that the couple connect the request to a wound or an area of needed growth. however. If partners fulill the desired behavior. the empathy skills that were developed in Session hree will come in handy. Partner 2: So. this form gives them 30 behavior choices they can work on to meet the partner’s needs and begin the process of reclaiming their lost parts. A very important point to emphasize is that couples should not expect changes overnight. it may. You’ll also begin to notice that the requests correspond to an area of growth needed in the giving partner. You will notice that most of the requests on couples’ lists will be the hardest for their partners to carry out. they will regain the part of themselves that was lost.132 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. If they try to do the behaviors all at once. he BCR list is one partner’s blueprint for the other one’s growth. you feel scared and angry when I get home late. he reason for presenting three requests is to give the receiving partner a choice of behaviors to change. his is very hard for the hinker to do. the efects will be similar to a crash diet: It works for a while. Did I get that? he couple should continue this format until they have dialogued the entire “Restructuring Frustrations” form. assign the rest for homework and also tell them to dialogue several more “Restructuring Frustrations” forms this week. Second Edition Frustrations” form. it makes me feel scared and angry when you come home late. you get frustrated when I come home late. Also. Partner 2: So. if I am hearing you correctly. be made by someone who felt ignored or abandoned as a child. he request to “call when one is going to be late” may be diicult for someone who was overprotected or smothered as a child. have each partner take a turn dialoguing requests. Change takes place slowly—often over many years. here is more to a BCR than seeking a change in behavior. but you wind up gaining back all the weight. when the couple have converted all 10 frustrations on the Frustration Ladder into BCRs. such as the person who feels will ask his or her thinking partner to listen to those feelings. Starting with Box 1. After the couple have completed the “Restructuring Frustrations” form and you have checked to make sure that the behaviors are positive and doable. he idea of this exercise is to educate couples about each other’s needs and about the . if I am getting this right. nor will you see a request from a hinker for the Feeler to feel more.

” Diana then summed up the changes she had experienced as follows: “We have made it safer. he session ends with the assignment of homework. Before we did not have a base. “It is like they say. and it identiies that part of themselves they will be able to reclaim by doing the stretch. or requests to act on frustrations. Sometimes the resistance to change is strong. you have to work at it. but that they are responding to an adaptation that tells them they cannot do it. and colleagues. hey continued to smile as they told the therapist about how this changed the feeling in their house and how this makes them look forward to being home. Rather than walking out on someone when we have diferences. “I am now honoring diferences.” Dave added. have the couple put a mark alongside that area of behavior that may need to be stretched into in order to accomplish the request that the partner wishes. To ix anything. the therapy has not “ixed” anything.’ And that means acceptance of the parts of people you don’t like. In the ifth session. “I cannot do that!” Assure the couple that it is not that they cannot do the behavior change. even in other relationships. it was a good time to do a temperature check on Dave and Diana. I hang in there and recognize that we are diferent. Even though it is being challenged now because I am reaching out. If you want to be married. he sessions and the homework have been purposeful.” Dave and Diana seemed well on their way to creating a safe and conscious marriage. ‘Marriage is work. It is good that Dave and Diana have created that base of safety because Session Five tends to be quite a challenge to couples. on the chart provided on the homework sheet. She said. Dave and Diana needed to learn to listen and to talk. I’ve made a base. hey also talked about the three belly laughs they had this week. he key is stretching into the new behavior—to heal the wounds and bring about growth. he safety we created is a good base to go out from. here have been no negotiations. friends. I know my safety level is increasing. DAVE AND DIANA: SESSION FIVE he session started of with the therapist asking Dave and Diana about the homework. his lets partners know where they might experience diiculty in doing a behavior. his is the session in which they start to make changes. hey needed to learn to understand each other and the childhood drama that brought them . his has made a big diference in my marriage and in all my relationships.Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 133 areas where they as a couple need growth. Finally. compromises. and I ind that makes a diference. hey immediately smiled and began to talk about their week. in which they consciously gave each other small gifts and appreciations. with special emphasis both on the idea of educating one’s partner and on the fact that change will not happen overnight. Up to this point. and they’ll each say. Diana quickly stated that the work they were doing in their marriage had been seeping into other relationships—with their son.

they worked separately on their forms. on the other hand.” Desires are easier to hear. Such words tend to activate the reptilian brain. Diana decided that she was the Feeler and Senser. With empathy and understanding. “I hate it when you are late” becomes “My desire is for you to be on time. Quietly and diligently. Diana tended to get frustrated because Dave did not understand her feelings and he seemed cold in his dealings with her. but in this session Dave and Diana were able to begin the process of turning their frustrations into desires. he therapist was looking to make sure that Dave and Diana wrote their requests in words that were positive. centered around Diana’s tendency to not think things through. Dave and Diana started to understand the idea that “your partner has the blueprint for your growth” and that the blueprint is buried in frustrations with each other. heir frustrations began to make sense to them when they tend to be around the lost parts of each other. and he thought she was too emotional. Dave and Diana will not feel coerced. he therapist encouraged them to address the least annoying frustrations irst and to wait several weeks or even months to go after the most annoying. Dave’s frustration with Diana. After Dave and Diana wrote down two frustrations each. he therapist chose this form because Dave and Diana were eager participants who easily dealt with emotional issues. step by step. hey began with the Frustration Ladder.” “I hate it when you leave the refrigerator door open” becomes “My desire is for you to close the refrigerator door.134 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. whereas Dave determined that he was the hinker and Doer. he therapist lectured Dave and Diana on Blueprints for Growth—the four ways people use to express their energy or selves. he therapist also looked for negative words such as stop. but Dave never asked Diana to feel more or to use her intuition on a matter. Second Edition to this point. the form for restructuring frustrations. the Frustration Ladder is used only to help the couple organize their frustrations to get a picture of the most annoying and least annoying traits that they ind in each other. It was also important for them to know that they were only beginning the process of learning the BCR Process in this session and they were expected to inish the Frustration Ladder as well as the other accompanying forms for homework. he therapist took them through each block and then took time to check what they wrote. he therapist told them to remember that a frustration is a desire stated negatively. Empathy for each other will allow Dave and Diana to make changes because they want to and because they understand that their partner’s requests for change are really about growth. doable. Again. don’t. Couples cannot hear a frustration because it calls up the reptilian brain. and not. To accomplish this. . hey needed to develop empathy. the therapist took them step by step through the Behavior Change Request Process. and achievable. He often wanted her to do something about her problems. hrough this lecture. measurable. he therapist instructed each of them to write down two mild frustrations on each of their sheets. Seldom did she tell him that he does not think enough or do enough in a day. the therapist explained.

you have a fear that your scatteredness is coming out. they were beginning a process that would take years to accomplish. but would produce growth if they gave each other what they each respectively needed. Dave: So. and they were willing participants in the efort to make sure that their statements were positive and their behavior requests achievable.1). Diana: It feels like you are judging me because I am not organized enough.Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 135 his is the time for the therapist to be picky because this irst form becomes the model for the restructuring forms that will be completed by the couple. When I was a kid. and at the same time create a new behavior that would produce growth for the receiving partner. rigid. then I get rigid inside. . you are always uptight. Diana: My frustration is when we are going somewhere. Diana’s “Restructuring Frustrations” form (see Exhibit 8. so my fear is that my scatteredness is coming out. Diana: And controlled. you are saying that you feel judged when I say you are not organized. First I get scared. Diana: Yeah. I was not doing something right. You feel scared. In Session Five. you get frustrated when we are going somewhere and I am uptight. Dave: If I am getting that. About 35 minutes into the session. . I’m confused. Dave: And controlled. end the frustration. Diana: And I have a fear that my scatteredness is coming out. Dave and Diana were ready to begin the dialogue process for their Behavior Change Requests. Rather. If Dave and Diana completed the assignment in terms that were negative or indicated behaviors that were not achievable. Diana: I feel judged when you say that I’m not organized. rather than components of the blueprint for growth. box by box. It brings up a lot of emotions. Dave: So. he therapist reminded them that the session was not about changing each other. Dave: So. then I feel controlled and judged. . you have lots of emotions about this. you are saying . herapist: And that reminds me of my childhood. chances are that all other forms would be completed in this negative manner and their behavior requests would become other sources of frustration. Dave: So. I was not good enough. he therapist instructed Dave and Diana to dialogue. it was about educating the other person about the behavior he or she needed to do that would meet the needs. Did I get that? Diana: Yes. and uptight. he therapist explained this pickiness to Dave and Diana.

Second Edition EXHIBIT 8.136 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.1 Restructuring Frustrations (Diana) .

if I am late. he second is four times this month. I would like to dialogue about our feelings for the evening. Diana: Yes. there are some other reasons that are hard to talk about. his causes you to get real distant from me. . a half hour before we start getting ready to go somewhere. and about our expectations for the evening. your desire is for me to acknowledge the time it takes for you to get ready and give you some credit. and there are some other hard things to talk about. herapist: Okay. Dave: So. Diana: And my desire is for you to acknowledge the time it takes me to get ready and give me some credit. for the next 2 months. I would like for you to dialogue your frustration with me after we return and give me the time before going out to enjoy getting ready 50 percent of the time. Diana: Yeah. (hey chuckle. So. Did I get it? Diana: Yes. Diana: Yeah. Dave: So. So my irst request to you is.) Dave. you would like for us to dialogue about our feelings about going out and our expectations for the evening. Diana: My third request is that for the next 2 months. if you are late. hen I get real distant from you. and it felt like you were always doing something wrong. you never felt good enough. you get angry and tighten up. Dave: (to therapist) Can we negotiate this? (chuckles) herapist: Not yet. Dave: If I am getting that. You would like me to do that 4 days a week. Dave: So. Diana: Yes. you would like for me over the next 2 months to tell you by noon what my needs are about time. I would like you to tell me by noon what your needs are concerning time. such as why you had to become scattered in your family to live there. Dave: So. in a dialogue process 4 days a week. feelings about going somewhere. Breathe out.Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 137 Dave: So when you were a kid. for the next 2 months. Diana is asking you to share your feelings. such as why I had to be scattered in my family. about a half hour before we start getting ready to go somewhere. you would like for me to dialogue my frustration about your being late after we return so that you can enjoy getting ready. I get angry and I tighten up. and that’s what is turned of in you. You would like for me to do this half of the time you are late. Hear her request. that tenseness you are feeling is the request pushing on your adaptations. Did I get that? Diana: Yes. Dave: So. four times this month.

and thereby the blueprint for marital growth. Dave and Diana’s marriage will become a vehicle for reclaiming their expressive parts that were lost in childhood. Her requests are bringing you into your feelings. and written in such a way that allowed Dave to be able to respond. Second Edition Dave: Yeah. In the process. I really get that because I want to think this through. Over the next few weeks. Can you commit to any one request? Dave: I could do the midday one. deined. you will need to follow Diana’s directive.138 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. herapist: And for your growth. each partner will receive the blueprint for his or her growth. . he frustration that Diana worked on in the session was now organized. they would ill out 10 more Restructuring Frustration forms in an efort to organize their frustrations and educate each other in the areas of change needed for them to meet their needs. Dave and Diana had their irst experience with restructuring their frustrations into achievable Behavior Change Requests. I’ll think about the others. If they follow through.

has a section marked “hinking. with phrases such as “Don’t think. Socialization and Mate Selection Use this form when you are presenting the Blueprint for Growth lecture to give the couple a visual portrayal of what you are saying.” “hat’s a dumb idea.” or “Girls don’t think. Give the couple a minute to decide if this best represents them or if they are a diferent combination. Do the same to “Acting” on that circle to represent the partner being asked to turn that part of. tell the couple to take the form to dialogue about its signiicance in their relationship. 139 . cross out those sections on the other circle. if you are talking about having to give up thinking.HANDOUT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE THERAPIST AND HOMEWORK Examples of handouts are shown on p.” You will be delivering a lecture describing how to live in a family. 142.” and “Sensing. SESSION FIVE his session requires you to copy many forms. he igure should now represent two people with only two ways of expressing themselves. When talking about Feeling and Sensing. For example.” use a pen on the left circle and put a mark across “hinking” to represent an area given up and used very little. You will need to make enough copies of the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” forms or the “Restructuring Frustrations” forms for the couple so that they leave with some blank ones to make their own copies.” “Feeling. members are typically asked to give up two ways of expressing themselves. Each of the circles. Suggest that they make at least 20 copies so they can work on 10 behaviors each. 1. For homework.” “Acting. which represent two people. but it is important because this is the session where behavior changes begin.

have the couple use dialogue to present and discuss each other’s requests. Restructuring Frustrations Give the couple the Restructuring Frustrations sample as a guide. response. Second Edition 2. guide them through each box and give them time to write their feeling. his page does not have to be shown to the partner. growth-producing behaviors. A. and request. so you can encourage them to be honest in what they write. Use the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” form if you are short on time or if you suspect that the couple will only complete the minimum work necessary in their therapy. completing the rest for homework. Have the couple pick one of their frustrations from the Frustration Ladder and place it in Box 1. hen have them change it into a positive. Use the “Restructuring Frustrations” forms for couples who are willing to take the time to do deeper emotional work and are willing to look at how their childhoods inluenced their behavioral adaptations and their frustrations. this version gives the partner the opportunity to write three requests for each frustrating behavior. Do not expect change in the session.140 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Remember that each of the sender’s requests is a stretch for the receiver. hen have the couple take a behavior from their Frustration Ladder and change it into a desire. Next. B. . C. Frustration Ranking he Frustration Ladder is used simply as a tool to help each partner organize his or her frustrations with their partner. he goal of the session is for the sending partner to educate the receiving partner. Restructuring Negative Behaviors Give them a copy of the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” sample as a guide. It is important that the receiver is given choices because this work is not about setting up him or her to fail. doable BCR. but it is best to have them experience only one and use that same version for the remainder of their requests. there are two ways to complete the BCR. You can give them both versions. thereby creating the receiver’s blueprint for growth. Have each partner put their mildest frustration at number 10 and work up to the most severe frustration. From there. Behavior Change Request Forms here are three sheets that are used to help the couple through the Behavior Change Request Process. have the couple dialogue using the form as a guide. Again. fear. hey need only write one or two frustrations during the session. desire. Each block is a natural stopping point for the sender to be mirrored by the receiver. After at least one partner has written down the three BCRs. but rather to stretch into new. As explained earlier in the chapter.

. “I would like for you to listen to my feelings about school for 15 minutes using dialogue. if the sender requests. the receiving partner should notice that the behavior requested is a stretch into one of his or her lost parts. To help the receiver clearly see that the sender has the blueprint for the receiver’s growth. the sender may be asking the receiver to think more or to listen to his or her feelings. For example. Homework Instructions for Session Five Give the homework sheet to the couple at the end of the session along with blank “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” or “Restructuring Frustrations” forms. hey may also notice that they have opposite requests. or a check mark.Session Five: Restructuring Frustrations • 141 3.” the area requested for growth is feelings and the receiving partner should put a mark next to feelings on the monitoring box. in the box desired for monitoring stretching. Following the dialogue. tell the receiver to put a number. What the couple will probably notice is that there are one or two areas of growth that the partner is requesting consistently. For example. he homework sheet will give them simple instructions on what they are to do to complete the forms and the dialogue—directions that you’ve already reviewed in the session.

142 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Second Edition 258 SESSION FIVE SESSION FIVE 259 SESSION FIVE 263 264 SESSION FIVE .

9 SESSION SIX Resolving Rage SUGGESTED TIME FRAME Checking homework “Appointments for Anger” lecture Container Process Reviewing Follow-up Plan 10 minutes 5 minutes 35 minutes 10 minutes 143 .

“And what that reminds me of in my childhood is . To thoroughly check that Behavior Requests were written in a positive manner with doable behaviors. If carried out as planned. To make sure that the couple fully understand that hurt underlies anger and that it is important to hear our partner’s hurt. 4. If you decide to work on BCRs. Spend the hour with the couple in Behavior Change Request dialogue. AN OPTION he plan for the sixth session ofers you a lexible option. and those who have trouble working out their frustrations or who often come to impasses will probably do better working on Behavior Change Requests. his additional step allows the receiver to understand that his or her frustrating behavior triggers something . you may want to add a step after the fourth box by giving them the sentence stem. have the couple bring in several completed “Restructuring Frustrations” or “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” forms that were assigned as homework in Session Five. we have found that many couples do not need such an intense session on anger or that the dialogue process has been a suicient tool for difusing the anger experienced in their relationship. Many couples report that it would be better for them to spend the time solving problems. However. For these couples and the therapist. some therapists are uncomfortable with the intensity of the Container Process. 5. Second Edition GOALS 1. 2. To give the couple the experience of expressing anger and rage in a safe containment process.” and having the receiver mirror it back.144 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. . Angry couples will probably need to do the Container Process. If you have decided that the “Restructuring Frustrations” form is appropriate for the couple (rather than the less intense “Restructuring Negative Behaviors”). To emphasize that these behaviors may take years to accomplish but that doing so heals both partners. you will be using the boxes as a guideline for the low of dialogue. For the couple open to the idea. You will probably know a week ahead of time in what direction you will be taking this session. To thoroughly review and to have the couple understand the importance of the follow-up plan. in our use of the short-term format. Also. 3. you will be spending the session helping the couple deal with rage in a structured process called the Container Process. . we recommend continuing with the Behavior Change Request work.

” coercion has a wounding efect. and that if they do the requests. Session Six will incorporate everything you’ve taught the couple in the previous sessions. Tension around behavior changes tends to ease up when the person who has to make the change understands its importance to the person making the request. If you decide to use the “Restructuring Negative Behaviors” form. On the other hand. After the fourth session. Look at the couple’s Behavior Change Request list. Remind them that the idea of compiling this list was to educate their partner with regard to their own needs. and empathy. you are being coerced into the new behavior and resentment is sure to follow. have the couple present it to each other using dialogue as you did in the last session. Ask them if they understand that through doing the behaviors. Help them get accustomed to talking about their frustrations in the less-threatening desire to BCR format. he lecture is very short because you will need the rest of the time to do the Container Process (which will take about 35 minutes) as well as to go over the follow-up program for those who are inishing therapy in six sessions. Briely process this with the couple by asking them if they could feel the partner’s requests as going against their own adaptations of not thinking. and make sure that the requests are stated as positive. they begin the process of reclaiming themselves. many couples will observe that although they are hearing each other better. Even though it might be “for your own good. if the couple can develop empathy for each other and learn to hear each other’s needs. with the addition of the Container Process to deal with anger and rage. they still are not doing anything diferent. Give the couple the experience of dialoguing their desires and educating each other through BCRs on the areas needed for individual growth. After you have processed the BCRs for about 10 minutes. and measurable fashion. these Behavior Change Requests are the most important part of this work. they will reclaim a part of themselves lost in childhood.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 145 from the partner’s childhood and begins to bring the sending partner’s behavior into perspective. dialogue. doable. You cannot change anything unless you know the purpose for making the change. hen. it is easier for each partner to give the behavior changes and the receiver does not feel coerced. or sensing. doable behaviors. And that would be true. After the establishment of safety. . acting. Otherwise. feeling. STARTING THE SESSION It is important that even if you decide to go on to the Container Process in this session. you take a few minutes to review the BCR assignment from Session Five and emphasize its importance. begin with this week’s agenda. make sure they understand that Behavior Change Requests must be written in a positive.

And. we usually respond with a statement designed to take the punch out of it. If we let ourselves really listen to our partner’s statement. When our partner sends us an angry statement. And. Typically. unfortunately. tell me what happens when I do this: “Aaahhhhh!” (At this point. you see. such a situation has become unsafe. yet we seldom get the chance to hear our partner’s hurt through our own defenses. or one of you storms of and keeps the anger in—feeling that it’s useless or dangerous to express your feelings. his lecture and exercise are about giving couples a new way to express and understand anger. We know that underneath anger there is always hurt. he reptilian brain interprets it that way and. Missiles. but I wanted to . Lecture Six: Appointments for Anger What do we do with anger and rage? I’m sure you’ve both been angry with each other at some time. leeing. but it clariies the point you are trying to make—anger should be expressed by appointment only. Try it a couple of times with your couples to see if it gets more comfortable. but going back to the learning process described in the irst session. but it’s the safest. therapist should suddenly scream loudly. Most people are appropriately afraid of anger because it feels threatening. But how can you listen to your partner’s anger? By appointment only! Sound crazy? Perhaps. playing dead or freezing. hiding. Anger never gets fully resolved or heard because the situation calls for both parties to defend themselves. however. or submitting. we never hear the anger or allow it to do what it is intended to do. and so the old brain takes over with ighting. you don’t hear each other. Safety and empathy are again stressed as a way to understand the other.) Could you feel yourself jump and get defensive? Can you feel your heart racing? I know you probably thought I was crazy. Second Edition ABOUT THE LECTURE his lecture is designed to set up the Container Process that the couple will experience in the session. goes into its ight. or submitting mode in response to it.146 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. as illustration of this. hiding. You could just explain this process to the couple. here is an odd moment in the lecture when you are asked to spontaneously scream. because we are too busy defending ourselves against it! his is similar to the theory behind the development of antiballistic missiles. and—if you’re like most couples—your anger usually goes nowhere. as usual. playing dead. here may be screaming and shouting. in fact. most productive way to deal with anger. people learn best when they can experience what you say. But we’ve found that anger has a very important function in a relationship and. his may seem strange. Couples can clearly see and feel the diference between your spontaneous scream and when you ask for an appointment. so someone got smart and developed an antiballistic missile to knock the original missile out of the sky before it could do any destruction. is another vital key to childhood vulnerabilities. are designed to do a job of sorts. light. therefore. we may ind that it has a real purpose and a real meaning.

we activate his or her old brain. by appointment only. but the fact remains that . Although some may immediately view this as abusive. Productive arguments tend to be purposeful and intentional.” hey must leave with the idea that. he Container Process involves one partner listening with empathy to the other partner’s anger—no matter how loud the anger is expressed. and allows couples to push through their rage to the hurt that lies underneath. Some may argue that this is diicult to do or that it takes the spontaneity out of arguing. if you keep in mind that it includes all of the exercises you’ve taught the couple in the previous sessions— with the addition of “containment”—you should do well. From now on. What you want the couple to get is that there are productive arguments and unproductive arguments. it is because you were ready for it. You know that it never goes anywhere and only causes hurt and resentment. in other words.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 147 get the point across that when we spring anger on our partner. Now. it is really the safest way to express anger. all arguments must be done through the Container Process—or. remember that this process is more than likely a marked improvement over whatever it is that the couple have been doing at home. and you were safe. then you will be able to hear what your partner’s anger is about and connect it with his or her childhood wound. what would happen if I irst let you know that I had a need to scream and that I wanted an appointment to do so—would you give me that appointment? Can you get yourselves safe so that I can scream? Are you safe? Ready? “Aaahhhhh!” (herapist again screams. Although this exercise is probably the hardest of all to do. Unproductive arguments tend to be spontaneous and highly reactive. from now on. It is more important that the couple learn the steps in this session than for them to have a “good argument. anger will be expressed by appointment only. Anything that they can pick up from it will help them. and usually one partner hears the other’s point. You have to promise that you will work toward ending spontaneous expressions of anger with each other. and he or she has no choice but to go into a defensive position. here will be many times when the anger gets the best of one or the other partner. Safety is built into the structure you give to the Container Process as you help the receiving partner see that behind the anger. we use a seven-step process called the Container Process.) Could you feel the diference this time around? Did you feel as defensive? If you did not feel as defensive this time. Also. and neither hears the other. there is always a deep hurt that the sending partner needs to have heard. And to do this. he receiving partner holds or becomes the container for the sending partner’s anger. THE CONTAINER PROCESS At this point. And you have to make that promise to each other. It is safe and structured. If you can do this. Will this always be possible? Of course not. and they will be sucked into their usual ighting style. you will lead the couple through a seven-step process.

several things can happen. he second step of the Container Process is for the sender to state in one or two sentences what the anger is about and for the receiver to mirror this back. he receiver must stay safe during this process. Let the couple decide who is going to be the sending partner and who is going to be the receiving partner. and others will need some prodding from you. Use only mirroring in this part. Once it gets going. An example of an inappropriate time is when one partner is about to leave the house for work.” hen ask the sender to explode his or her anger about the triggering event. the therapist. before they begin. giving or conirming the appointment as soon as possible. It is also important for the receiver to begin going to his or her safe place for the process. the couple must agree to three basic rules: No hitting. because its basic function is to let both partners know what the rage is about. instruct the receiving partner to get safe again. In this case. When the receiving partner can see the sending partner’s pain. an appointment should be made for the container to take place as soon as possible—and it is very important that the scheduled appointment time be kept. “Say that louder. When you think that the anger has reached its height. Some can do this quite easily.” another reason for scheduling an appointment is that sometimes now is not the appropriate time to begin an argument. no property damage. the empathy he or she began to develop several sessions ago begins to return. Sometimes I remind the receiver that the anger is a little bit about now and a lot about the house in which his or her partner grew up. you can throw in one of two lines: “And that hurts” or “And that reminds me of when I was a kid. and also indicate that he or she is only allowed to say. he sender may break into tears—an “implosion”—and should be brought into the . Second Edition containment makes the rage more productive and safer. If the receiver wants to ind out what that’s all about. hink of yourself as “kick-starting” the rage. rather than respond relexively or stonewall as usual. You may also have to interject thoughts such as “I hate that!” or “It ticks me of. or the couple could slip into their typical argument.” and have the sender repeat them. he idea is for senders to fully express their anger or rage to enable them to get to the hurt that lies underneath. let it go for 5 to 10 minutes or so.” his typically will shift the focus from the rage to the hurt or to the sadness underneath. “Tell me more about that.148 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. he receiver may become curious about what is underlying the anger and so have some incentive to listen to the anger. Furthermore.” or. and the receiver can begin to feel compassion for his or her partner’s anger and hurt. he or she must stay safe or the sender will not be able to get to that deeper level of hurt and thus remain angry. During the fourth step of the exercise. Be sure to remind the sender that the receiver is going to make it safe for him or her by listening to the sender’s rage. and no leaving until all seven steps have been completed. After the mirroring. Besides allowing the receiving partner time to “get safe. Have the sending partner make an appointment with the receiving partner. You can ask the sending partner to begin slowly and to build up his or her anger. and tell them that you will be guiding them through each step of the process. always keeping the situation safe.

is that requests are gifts—they are not something that the receiver will be forced to do. therefore. and simply tell the sender to “sob it out” or “let those old sobs come. or it may be a short processing of what just transpired. do the same thing and place the sender in the holding position so that he or she can talk about his or her underlying hurt. and the receiver must participate. he reason for this.” his very emotional scene in the Container Process is rare. you will recall. It will be their choice whether to use the skill or to continue as usual. If the couple got into a full-blown container. your aim is to help them ill themselves up with positive ones. Typically. and the couple may resist or tell you. but the sender will not be in tears. what you see is that the receiving partner is so touched by the partner’s hurt that the receiver will make the efort to do all three. hey also have to rid themselves of some negative emotions. In that case. he Follow-up Plan (Chapter 10) is designed to slowly guide them into using the Container Process or a variation of it (the Container Transaction or Container Days) on a regular basis. his step may last but a moment as the couple gather themselves together. . the seventh step is for them to experience a sustained belly laugh or some high-energy fun. you’ll ind that the session takes on a sad tone. he sixth step is a Behavior Change Request made by the sending partner that is related to both the trigger and the wound. which resulted in an implosion. he sender will later write those requests on the Container Record. So. Get them going. hoping for one. he sender gives three requests. and just watch them have fun! Be aware that the Container Process may not go as planned. and because of this. Either way. and sometimes it will increase the compassion from the receiving partner. his should be done quickly and gently so the sender can stay in his or her emotional state.” Your job is to show them the steps and give them an experience of the steps—no matter how small. which the receiver will then mirror. he sending partner will make three Behavior Change Requests. Make sure that the requests are stated positively and are related to the wound that the receiver saw in the Container Process. he couple just went through a very emotional exercise. you will have helped the couple increase their empathy and understanding of each other’s anger and rage. Move them into the holding position. If you say anything other than “Could you please hold him/her?” you risk taking the couple out of this compassionate state. the most common thing you will hear from the sending partner is how tired—yet relieved—he or she feels. he sender will choose the activity. “We can’t get into this. Most of the time.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 149 holding position that you taught the couple several sessions ago. they may seem tired and drained. Sometimes this will deepen the hurt. but dramatic. his is not to make light of what just happened but to bring energy back to them. After 5 to 10 minutes in this position. move to the ifth step: separation and rest. he seventh step is essential.

and Friday. his period of mild anger may not have any connection to childhood. so in an efort to anchor the skills. he receiver then does a global mirror to let the sending partner know he or she was heard. the situation may not need a 30-minute process to deal with the feeling. or you may want to do this process in the sixth session rather than the full container. Wednesday. and . he steps are described on the handout entitled “Using the Container. here are two variations that will assist the couple in making the expression of anger safe and productive in their relationship. he irst two steps are identical to the Container Process in that the sender will make an appointment and have the triggering frustration mirrored back to him or her by the receiver. of the anger of the other partner all day. he entire Container Transaction should last about 5 minutes. but it is always recommended. we recommend the Container Transaction. you will not have time for the couple to practice this process. you may want to recommend Container Days.150 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and is used by the couple to deal with intense anger. On Monday. The Container Transaction here are times in any given week when frustrating events produce mild anger between partners. An example may be leaving shoes in the family room. experience. And although this may produce an angry feeling. For frustrating events that need more than Couples Dialogue. utilizes seven steps. one partner promises to be the container. Second Edition Variations of Containers he entire Container Process lasts between 30 to 45 minutes. and practice. his. Container Days People learn through repetition. neglecting to put a dish away. If you are working in six sessions. so you will have to describe it to them. Containers are not easy or natural for couples to do. he third step involves a short 3-minute explosion of the feelings regarding the event. Following this mirror. and the object is for the receiver to fully hear the sender’s anger and understand it from the sender’s point of view. Tell the couple that in an efort to have the Container Process become a natural part of their lives. or the receiver. may cause corresponding feelings in the receiver. his means that the containing partner makes himself or herself available all day to listen to the partner’s anger in a safe. or forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning—again. and that should be discussed in the dialogue process. you are recommending that they participate in Container Days for the next 90 days. but may need a safe forum for expression. he couple have the option of ending with a belly laugh. the sender makes a Behavior Change Request about the triggering event and is mirrored by the receiver. with the receiving partner listening from his or her safe place. structured. of course. but less than the Container Process.

If the receiving partner experiences his or her own anger that day. he beneit here is that maximizing partners have to learn to contain themselves on the days they are the container. For the sender. frustrating for them when they get angry on a day when it is not their turn to send and they have to wait until the next day. “We didn’t work on the toughies. hey spent the week working on the Behavior Change Request assignment and presented a few BCRs to each other. you will also be reviewing the follow-up plan. Maybe we need to tackle the easy ones irst so we can gain experience to tackle the tough ones. Even if the couple have Container Days half of the time. his process tends to be exciting for maximizing partners who know they will be fully heard that day and.” But that also gave her an important insight when she said.” his is an important concept for couples to understand in this work. As Diana said. and review some of what they will be doing. his assignment is akin to drug and alcohol support groups recommending 90 meetings in 90 days. Couples have to put as much time into improving their relationships as they did in avoiding them and being critical. FOLLOW-UP PLAN For couples completing therapy in the sixth session. and Saturday. However. On Sunday. “I told Dave that I think it is good we did not do the tough ones. Change is a lifelong process . but we recommend high-energy fun on Sunday. both partners are available for each other.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 151 dialogical way. More speciic instructions and details about the plan are given in Chapter 10. his is often a diicult assignment for the couple to complete fully. and they will make faces as you assign it. he or she can express anger. DAVE AND DIANA: SESSION SIX Dave and Diana returned for Session Six in an upbeat mood. he or she must make the commitment to hold it until the following day when the process switches—the other partner promises to be the container all day on Tuesday. Minimizers learn to express themselves as the fear of being overwhelmed by the other is removed. at the same time. so they learn to develop some inner controls. the sender also has the option of not expressing anger on that day with the assurance that he or she will not have to listen to anger on that day from the receiving partner. this will be an improvement over how they have handled explosive situations in the past. this means that on a designated day. and they will be more efective in handling anger. hursday. Make a copy of the entire plan (located at the end of the Homework/Handouts) for the couple. Couples ind Container Days to be either expressive or peaceful depending on the sender’s needs for that day.

hey were also very realistic and admitted that this would be diicult. Dave did his best to stay safe. and they then understood the need. Diana commented. as also mentioned in chapter 8. It frustrates me because I feel I have no choices. they are a way of saying that these are the behaviors that will meet my needs and heal my wounds. It feels like you have abandoned me just when I need to express who I am. Diana decided that she would be the sender and made an appointment with Dave. it is like the crash diet in which you lose weight quickly. I feel like you have gone away. there was a “prize” underneath. He commented how anger never seems to get anywhere and usually causes additional pain rather than foster healing or a sense of being understood. Dave asked. Second Edition and it is far better to work on the milder frustrations so that you can gain the strength and experience needed to work on the greater challenges. Diana then told him in a few sentences what her anger was about. Unless things are comfortable. hrough the demonstration. he therapist reminded them that Behavior Change Requests are not a way of telling each other that they have to change. As is typical. how can you stop and make an appointment?” he therapist mirrored and validated what Dave said. Diana: (angry tone) When you pull away from me like that. hey were coached to rewrite these requests into positive. the therapist began the lecture about anger and rage. each partner will grow into his or her lost parts if these behaviors are given as gifts. he therapist then took Dave and Diana through the Container Process. It is really fair. but you gain it back again—plus a few extra pounds.” or. “It’s a nice way to do this. Change happens slowly over a long period of time. rather. the couple responded quizzically when they were told that anger should be expressed by appointment only. otherwise.” After about 10 minutes into the session.152 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. . and that was the hidden reason for the anger.” hroughout the transaction. and Dave was able to mirror. “If you are in the middle of anger. doable. As is typical. it feels like you go away. (angry) You said you’d stay! herapist: Stay in your anger. Diana identiied her anger trigger as follows: “I’m angry when you get silent with me. and to listen to her with his heart and with empathy. Dave: Tell me more about that. there were a few BCRs that were written too generally or with negative words. “Say that louder.” Dave then got safe again while Diana built up her anger for this transaction. Dave was able to make himself safe and granted the appointment. And. “Tell me more about that. measurable. And I feel totally lost and I feel angry at you for doing that. he therapist told him that if he listened to the anger long enough and with his heart. and then did the scream demonstration. to stay focused on Diana. he therapist took a few minutes to carefully evaluate Dave and Diana’s written “Restructuring” Frustrations form. the appointment idea made more sense to Dave and Diana. it hurts because I don’t feel like I have choices. and time-limited behaviors. he therapist instructed him to say only.

you shove everything I want to say right back down my throat and I don’t get to say what I mean. and I am not scary! Dave: Can you say that louder? (still with a look of concern and maintaining his safety) Diana: (screaming very loudly now) I am not your mom. Diana: I’m tired of stuing it. and I am not scary! I am a nice person. Diana: I get so scared to say anything. herapist: (mirroring) I get so scared. When I hear the anger and it comes out sideways. and I want to be heard! I want you to hear me! herapist: Louder. agree. hat’s what you said when we got married. and it’s not always nice. for better or for worse. you leave. . and every time I show any sign of me being on my worse side. Diana: I have a voice. but I have upset and angry feelings sometimes! And it is not okay to leave! I hate you when you leave me. herapist: (softly to Dave) Stay safe. It feels like it is all stufed down all the time. and I want you to hear me! I want you to give me time to express what I am trying to say! I don’t want you to go away! Dave: Tell me more about that. It’s not fair! It’s not nice! herapist: Say that louder. Every time I have something adverse to say .Session Six: Resolving Rage • 153 Diana: (angry) You said you would stay. Diana: (screaming) It’s not fair! It’s not nice! And I don’t do it to you! I listen to all the garbage. And I want to hit you and I want to turn away from you to let you see how it feels. agree! I have to stuf it! herapist: I’m tired of stuing it. Diana: You go away! You punish me! I’m not supposed to be punished for who I am! I am not supposed to be punished for being me! herapist: Louder. I listen to all of that. Diana: (sounding angry and regressed) I hate you when you leave me! It hurts so bad! I want to punish you so mean! Dave: Can you tell me more? Diana: It makes me feel choked up inside. And I get so scared. (yelling) And that hurts so bad and I get so angry because I don’t know what to do.. I want freedom in my throat. I’m not going to anymore. it makes me feel like my words aren’t important. And I want to hurt you. you run away from me! I’m not your mom. But when I have a little bit of anger. I get so scared to go forward and ever tell you that I don’t agree with something.. he only way I can have a relationship is to just agree. I have a voice. It feels like when you leave me.

And that’s why I just cry.) Ahhhh! . “Please don’t let me be hurt anymore. . Diana’s sobs became very deep. And they put me down for that sometimes. . It didn’t matter. or put me down. I’m so afraid that you will hurt me if I get angry. No negative feelings were ever allowed to be heard. and I wish I had it back because I know it’s in there. Diana: (weeping) It is so hard to only be a half a person. . And they never let me have it. . You don’t cross the line. and she said several times. but I can’t stop it. herapist: Tell Dave about it. hey never wanted to know that part of me ever.154 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and Dave was feeling very compassionate toward her sadness. . here is no safe place to be angry. I just wanted to be heard for what I was feeling. . he emotional part was only part . (Dave looks on with empathy. or walk away.” and Dave gently held her. Tell Dave about the hurt. I would go to the closet to get angry. I get so angry because I watch all the garbage going on. “You’re talking to yourself? You’re talking to the devil!” (sobbing heavily). Diana sobbed in Dave’s arms for about 5 minutes as he provided a safe and nurturing space for her to reexperience and heal her hurt. I think they would hurt me if I expressed anger. Now he was in a position and mind-set to nurture the hurt. and my mother would hear it and say. . I am a nice person! I am! And I get angry sometimes. After Diana felt she had been held long enough. . I’m so afraid they’ll hurt me. Diana: Ugh. Diana: (sobbing) I wanted time to be heard. Give it words. Ahhh! . his Container Process was a very intense and emotional experience for Dave and Diana. Diana let out several painful screams. To be able to say something not nice and not feel that they were going to hurt me. (crying) hey never wanted to hear anything. . Diana was now very sad. Diana: (very loud and crying) I’m not supposed. .) herapist: Can you give it language? Diana: (screaming) I hate you Mom for making me so good! I hate you Dad for being so angry! Ahhh! . they took a minute to sit up and compose themselves. I can’t do anger. . he rage had turned into passion. herapist: And that hurts. Second Edition Diana: I am not supposed to be punished for being me! herapist: Louder. Diana was asked if she would be willing to let Dave hold her as she was gently guided into the Holding Position. . I don’t like things sometimes! And I don’t get to tell you that! I can only show you the nice parts! herapist: And that reminds me of when I was a kid. And sometimes I don’t like things and I have no safe place to say it. (At this point. It is so hard to only come from the rules and what’s right for everyone else. And the line. . . He waited out the anger and got the “prize” underneath: He got to see the hurt that fuels the anger. I feel like parts of me are dead inside. Ahhhh! .

hey ended this process with a belly laugh by playing “I Can Do hat!” as they had in a previous session. COMPASS results are compared in Table 9. hey sat close and held hands. they were given the Follow-up Plan (see Chapter 10). and the therapist hopes that the compassion that has been developed during that time is fully available during the process. Her faced seemed less tense. respectively). respectively) and Sexual Dissatisfaction (T = 57 and T = 48. Since this was the last session for Dave and Diana. It was there for Dave and Diana. he therapy had given them a good start. the work of the therapist with this couple was done. he Marital Satisfaction Inventory also showed a large reduction in several of the scales. . but they would have to continue the process of growth that can be found in committed and conscious relationships. he therapist warned them that if they did not use the processes every day. respectively). Global Distress for Dave and Diana dropped signiicantly (T = 49 and T = 51. Diana also indicated that she was feeling more understood in the relationship. Dave was able to mirror these requests back and thought he would like to try all of them because now he could really see why Diana needed him to be there and to listen to her anger and hurt. hey were now in a committed and conscious relationship. Now Diana had to make several Behavior Change Requests of Dave. through anecdotal information and through valid and reliable outcome measures. her request focused on being heard. here was also a noticeable drop in Disagreement About Finances (T = 57 and T = 57. we can see that Dave and Diana’s marriage had improved and that they were feeling better. on having Dave make it safe for her to disagree and express anger. heir work and their journey had really just begun. the warm moment they were experiencing would be a distant memory in a short amount of time. It is often interesting to view a couple at the end of a Container Process. Overall. his process uses all of the skills they have learned over the six sessions. Except for some possible future brief follow-up visits.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 155 of the healing. Dave was now fully tuned into Diana and understands her hurt. as her Afective Communication score dropped signiicantly (T = 48). and their results indicated that further therapy was not warranted. Diana somehow looked diferent following her experience. and she had a younger appearance. She also requested that he stay present with her when she is mad no matter how much he wants to run. He also told them that they would have up and down days and that the only way to get back on track would be through what they learned in therapy—to create safety. to use Couple Dialogue. Both partners showed considerable improvement. and to use all of the processes. OUTCOME MEASURES Dave and Diana returned a week after their last session to repeat the outcome measures given in Session One (COMPASS and the Marital Satisfaction Inventory). As might be expected.1.

TEN YEARS LATER: A FOLLOW-UP Dave and Diana were seen in 1995. but rather had come to realize that these diferences are what makes them unique and are traits that deserve validation. hey also said that they used dialogue as much as they could. they also noticed that their son was more relaxed and seemed to enjoy his time at home more.156 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. but they began to talk and to use dialogue and their relationship stabilized again. Second Edition TABLE 9. hey were very happy that the work they did on their marriage was having a positive impact on their son. Dave and Diana’s son is now grown and inished with college.” Mostly. hey were adamant that they had not given in to the diferences in each other. Because there was less conlict in their relationship. hey have now been married over 30 years and report that they have never been happier. hey report that they still use . he second edition is being written in 2006. hey both reported that things had been going well for them and they continued to feel safe with each other. they were impressed with their ability to keep the relationship safe and to appreciate diferences in each other. he couple lives comfortably in their suburban home.1 COMPASS Score Comparison Diana Session One Well-being (Normal range: above 83) (Severe range: below 17) Symptoms (Normal range: below 17) (Severe range: above 83) Life Functioning (Normal range: above 83) (Severe range: below 17) Mental Health Index (Normal range: above 83) (Severe range: below 17) 43 Session Six 95 46 Dave Session One Session Six 98 27 12 68 14 13 90 10 69 41 94 25 92 Six Months Later Dave and Diana returned to the therapist 6 months later to give the therapist permission to use their story in this book and to discuss how they had been doing for the past 6 months since therapy ended. hey admitted that there was a brief period in which they regressed to their old ways. but confessed they often returned to their “old way of talking.

hey are not sure if they would have made it if they had not learned the Imago work. . hey report that they are best friends. and that has made all the diference. and both have done so with the blessing and support of the other. hey are able to see each other’s strengths and vulnerabilities.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 157 the skills they learned on occasion and attribute their long relationship to the work done 10 years earlier. Both have started the careers they had always wanted to pursue.

especially in emotional exchanges. the homework will be for the couple to write up more BCRs and correct any discrepancy you may have found on their BCR forms in this session. so this form makes it possible to keep track of requests. If you have chosen the Container Process for this session. 2. You might suggest to the couple that after they have made an appointment to express anger using the Container. The Container Process his sheet describes the seven-step process that the couple just experienced in the session. rather than depending on the sheet for each step and disrupting the low. It is easy to forget what the Behavior Change Requests are. there are several forms you can hand to the couple at the end of the session to help them in their eforts to do this at home. SESSION SIX If you have chosen to conduct a second session on Behavior Change Requests in Session Six.HANDOUT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE THERAPIST AND HOMEWORK Examples of handouts are shown on page 160. 158 . doable terms. It is best if each partner learns the process so it becomes luid. If you ind they are not in positive. have them rewrite them so that the partners have clear behaviors to strive for. Suggest to the couple that they make several copies of this sheet and use it to keep a record of their Container Process. 1. The Container Record his is essentially the same as the Container Process sheet except that it gives the receiving partner a place to write down the Behavior Change Requests made in the sixth step. they use this sheet to guide them through the steps until the process becomes natural.

if this is your last session with the couple. 5. It is meant as a guide for using the other sheets described. It also reminds the couple of the importance of a belly laugh at the end of doing any Container. suggest that they practice Container Days for the next 90 days. the Container Transaction for mild annoyances.Session Six: Resolving Rage • 159 3. his allows the partners to know that they will be heard on a particular day by the partner who has promised to make it safe for them to express anger. and Container Days. After the Therapy Again. you will also be handing them the Follow-Up Plan. which is described in chapter 10. . Homework Instructions for Session Six his sheet guides the couple through the initial stages of using the Container. It explains the entire seven-step Container Process. It is crucial that the couple learn to spend time laughing or engaged in some highenergy fun at the end of a Container so that they can retrieve some of the energy expended and also have a positive association with this emotional experience. or allows them a day to know that anger will not be expressed by the partner who has promised to wait until the next day when the process switches. 4. Using the Container his form gives the couple some suggested ways to use the Container Process. To help the couple get started using containers.

Second Edition 266 SESSION SIX SESSION SIX 267 268 SESSION SIX SESSION SIX 269 .160 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.

such as the Container. with the exception of this page. should be considered a handout and given to the couple in the inal session. Caution the couple to complete only that week’s assignment. hey will also gain the added beneit of using their relationship for individual growth and healing. his entire chapter. Review several weeks’ work with the couple to give them an idea of the process. stress to the couple that the skills will only become permanent when they become habit. and habit only comes through repetition. tell the couple to skip the assigned task and repeat one from a previous week that they may have found helpful. Since the processes are new to them. hey are expected to be luid in the processes by week 8 if they keep up with the work as outlined. or they may grow tired of the work. However. You must emphasize the importance of the follow-up plan. his will be the single determinant as to whether or not the couple continue the Imago Relationship herapy process for the improvement of their relationship. Each weekly assignment is designed to keep the couple in the process by easing them into the work. not by overwhelming them.10 AFTER THE THERAPY his chapter consists of a weekly follow-up plan. For skills that may not have been taught in the sessions. he plan is designed to help the couple incorporate their new skills into their daily lives. 161 . they need to learn to do a little over a long period of time.

Second Edition FOLLOW-UP PLAN It is important to know that the work you completed is not the end. 5. Practice Couples Dialogue three times this week for 30 minutes at a planned time. 4. Try not to think of it in terms of 8 weeks but as a way to get you started on a lifetime of change and growth. In other words. 3. Week 2 1. Do this daily. but only the beginning. Use it to continue the process of reimaging your partner as vulnerable and in need of your care and empathy. 2. for your partner. Review your Relationship Vision. 2. 3. Practice Couples Dialogue three times this week for 30 minutes at a planned time. Each partner should have at least 30 minutes to talk. Have a very intellectual 30-minute discussion about a newspaper article in which both partners participate equally. you will tire of the work quickly. To get the full beneit. 4. because should you overdo it. Reimage your partner as vulnerable due to his or her childhood experiences. Week 1 1. Practice Couples Dialogue in all conlict situations. 6. Allow yourself to go deeper with this exercise. What was it like to live with me?). Complete any written exercises you started and were unable to inish. Begin a 3-month practice of Container Days. See yourself healing your partner’s vulnerabilities. Repeat the Parent–Child Dialogue Exercise (I am your mother/father. his 8-week follow-up program will set you on your way. 5. Remember to give each other a gift every day. Do not attempt to do any more than is listed in a week. Remember: Your goal is to change a little bit over a long period of time. it must become a way of life for you. . and for your relationship. 6. Use Couples Dialogue in all conlict situations. you must continue the work you have done on a daily basis.162 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Agree to give each other a gift or appreciation every day.

2. gift your partner with a request daily or weekly. share your thoughts about the Container Exercise. Week 4 1. acknowledge verbally and also by recording the date on your list so your partner can see it. Review your Relationship Vision. and I will make it safe for you. . Ask your partner for his or her Behavior Change Request list: • Rank the list in order of diiculty for you. Say to your partner every day this week. Use Couples Dialogue in all conlict situations. Week 5 1. Do the Holding Exercise about a particularly sad moment in your childhood. • Starting with the easiest request. and visualize yourself reaching your goals. 4. no matter how you feel. Using the Couples Dialogue. • Do a Container Transaction on a minor frustrating behavior your partner does. • When your partner gifts you. 2. Make it safe. 3. as appropriate. • Share your thoughts about practicing the steps. until you have completed the list. “I understand stretching is dificult. 4. Discuss it until you both understand it.” 3.After the Therapy • 163 Week 3 1. Spend 30 minutes each being held. • Memorize this list. Have high-energy fun or a belly laugh at least twice this week. • Do it. • Discuss your experience of doing the Container Process using the Couples Dialogue. Continue to reimage your partner as vulnerable and in need of your love. Use Couples Dialogue to express how you feel about giving and receiving the gifts from your partner this week. 3. Have a 30-minute conversation about something totally silly (for example. Continue gifting your partner with his or her Behavior Change Requests. Give each other a gift every day. Make it speciic. • Do a minor Container Process once this week to learn the steps. the social implications of the Flintstones). 2.

2. separate from the Container. Use the Couples Dialogue in all conlict situations. Keep the relationship safe and fresh. Week 7 1.) 3. Once a month. Reimage your partner as wounded. Week 8 and Every Week Thereafter hese skills must become a part of everyday life. Do Containers regularly. Do Caring Behaviors daily. Have at least one belly laugh. Let your partner deal with a deep hurt in a safe environment with you. Give a gift or appreciation every day. for the rest of your life. commit to each other to ind a therapist to help you do a Container. Have a belly laugh once a day. Give each other a gift every day. Remember: Your part has the blueprint for your growth. . Continue doing Behavior Change Requests. If these are diicult for you to do alone. do a Holding Exercise. 4. 2. 2. Do a Container on a more serious subject. 4. When you have fully stretched into these behaviors and they are a part of you. and see yourself as healing those wounds. Do a Container. 6. do the following: 1. 5. Continue to stretch into the behaviors on your partner’s Behavior Change Request list. Do Behavior Change Requests. Visualize yourself healing his or her adaptations to childhood experiences. Do this until your partner tells you his or her vulnerabilities are healing or are healed and are now becoming strengths. ask your partner for a new list. Second Edition Week 6 1. 4. (his could take years. When the Caring Behavior becomes routine. 3. Do Caring Behaviors.164 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. 5. Use Couples Dialogue at least three times this week. Give each other a gift every day. Surprise your partner once a month. See your partner’s request as an opportunity to grow in the exact ways that will lead to the recovery of your original wholeness. 3. So. come up with new ones.

and see yourself reaching them.After the Therapy • 165 Every 6 Weeks 1. 2. Review your Relationship Vision. Revise it as necessary. Visualize your goals daily. .


Although you cannot “ix” this couple. the couple should be using the Couples Dialogue process for at least half of any session because this will be their main tool once they leave the session. the main thing to remember is to keep the couple in the “process” as much as possible. Using dialogue must become a habit. Before you make any creative changes to the basic format. this book was developed with the assumption that the therapist has six sessions in which to work with a couple. chances are the couple are not truly engaged in the dialogue process. It will also address special situations that may require a diferent rate of treatment than what was ofered in the six basic sessions. he best skill you can teach any couple and the best experience you can give to them is Couples Dialogue. his chapter will give you some ideas on how to tailor the basic six-session format to meet the couple’s needs as well as what to do if you have more than six sessions with the couple.11 BEING CREATIVE WITH THE BASIC FORMAT AND WORKING WITH SPECIAL POPULATIONS As you know. you will want to adapt the work to it your personality and therapy style. If you ind yourself working too hard in a session. and habits form only through repetition. I recommend that you try it “as is” a few times to get the hang of the process. they can come to understand each other through dialogue. 167 . After a few tries. If you change the basic format. hat is. hat’s why it’s important for you to keep them in the dialogue process as much as possible.

you will have the opportunity to call on your creativity. In doing so. Doing this will reinforce the dialogue process. 1988). As you want to make as great an impact as possible on their relationship. You may also refer them to a weekend couples workshop. . Assign for homework the various exercises outlined for Session One. Add the validation and empathy portion of Couples Dialogue. the week after you teach the dialogue process. Second Edition Your creativity should be accessed when you see that the couple are not understanding the material in the time allotted. learn a dialogue process. I would suggest that you alternate therapy sessions with practice sessions to review material the couple may not have understood from the previous session. but only teach the mirroring portion of the Couples Dialogue. Of course. Ph. Couples who get a clear picture of the purpose of a relationship. Imagine yourself as the foreign language teacher who only lets the class speak in French during the class. they have at least grasped the information from the irst three sessions. have the couple spend the whole session using only the dialogue process as they discuss problem areas or their childhoods. (Hendrix. if you have more than 6 weeks to complete the therapy. and have them practice for the rest of the session. Spend the extra time in this session emphasizing safety and having the couple accurately mirror each other. you should see to it that when the couple inally leave the therapy.168 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. For example.D. Try spending an extra week on the problematic sessions until they get the ideas. Session Two Watch the couple mirror each other to check their homework. and begin the process of developing empathy for each other are able to change their relationship signiicantly enough to desire more information about this process. For homework. in which they learned dialogue and developed empathy. give the couple the assignment of mirroring each other for 30 minutes each night. Recommend that they read and complete the exercises in Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. Here are some ideas on how to structure sessions according to how many more you have available: AN EIGHT-SESSION FORMAT Session One Present the session as written. you will have to decide which session to leave out if you are limited to six.

Spend the second half of the session presenting the Development Lecture. and discuss this with the couple briely. Session Four Spend the irst half of the session listening to the couple dialogue about their childhoods or on an issue they want to deal with. but rather they are supposed to understand that each of them sees the situation in a particular way. he content is more important to the couple. . Make sure they understand that they are not necessarily supposed to agree. and work with them on making the validation portion easier for them. hirty minutes of dialogue four times this week should also be assigned to the couple. conduct Sessions One through Four as stated above. Creating empathy in the receiving partner is most important to you. Remember that you are creating a safe environment and listening to the process of dialogue. A 10-SESSION FORMAT In a 10-session format. Do the Parent–Child Dialogue and Holding Exercise with one of the partners in the couple. For homework. Spend the second 30 minutes presenting the guided imagery as described in Session Two. Make sure their accuracy in the dialogue is improving.Being Creative With the Basic Format • 169 Session Three Spend half the session listening to the couple using dialogue on a serious issue in their relationship. Session Five Conduct this session as you would Session hree in the six-session format. Sessions Five Through Eight Conduct these sessions as you would sessions three through six from the sixsession model. the person who was the receiving partner should now be the sending partner in Parent–Child Dialogue and in the Holding Exercise with one of his or her parents. have the couple dialogue about their childhoods and igure out where they may have been vulnerable in their development. Fill out the Finding Your Imago form. For homework.

spend this session working on Exits as described in the Additional Exercises section of this chapter. Second Edition Session Six In this session. Finish with the Follow-Up Plan. For homework.170 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. A 12-SESSION FORMAT Twelve sessions certainly give you a lot of room to help the couple grasp this material and is preferable if the time is available. Session Seven Conduct the reromanticizing session as explained in Session Four of the sixsession format. have the receiving partner from the last session be the sending partner in Parent–Child Dialogue and in the Holding Exercise on the parent who he or she did not do for homework. You have the luxury of a loating session to use in areas that you perceive the couple to need more work in or when they may need more practice of a particular process. have them work on the Relationship Vision as described in Session Four of the six-session format. Session Ten Conduct this session as explained in Session Six of the six-session format with the option of continuing Restructuring Frustrations or Resolving Rage. If you notice that the couple lead very busy lives and seem to avoid each other in their home life. If they seem fairly connected. A 12-session format can be conducted in a manner similar to the 10-session format. It is recom- . Session Eight his session involves a choice. assign this session’s receiving partner the Parent–Child Dialogue and the Holding Exercise for the parent he or she did not do yet. Help the couple shape and write down what their dream relationship would look like. Session Nine Conduct the Restructuring Frustrations session as explained in Session Five of the six-session format.

there will be days when you will know intuitively that the couple are not ready for what you have to ofer them. Some couples even run the risk of losing their friends when they start relationships because they spend so much time together that they exclude others. Exits Some couples are pulled apart in so many diferent directions by family. hobbies. he energy makes the relationship feel alive. However. all of the energy is in the box and stays there. happiness. If the couple have completed all sessions and you still have a few weeks to go. here was fun. he continuation of this work following therapy is very important to its success. In such cases. the following exercises may ofer you some additional options to work with a couple on speciic problems. because often in the beginning it can be a bit scary to do these exercises at home. and it seems as though your busy lifestyles may be hampering the process. if one partner had an event in childhood that made him sad. have them begin to use their newly learned skills to work on particular childhood wounds. Remember when you irst met and your focus seemed to be on your relationship? Maybe you stayed up long hours talking. For example. so it seems essential to stress this and possibly help the couple design a way to assimilate the processes into their lives. you must focus your energy on the relationship. you might present the following lecture: Commitment to the process and to the relationship is essential to the success of this work. Many couples appreciate having the therapist available during their Container Process. As problems arise. hink of the relationship as two people in a box: In the early or romantic stage of the relationship. Because you will not be with the couple forever. Use any additional time to teach the couple how to know which tool to select to get a speciic job done. work. and when you were apart you probably thought about each other often. We call these leaks exits. Encourage the couple to think of the skills and processes you have taught them as a box of tools and that there’s a right tool to use for a particular situation. To carry out such a commitment. holes are formed in the box and the energy leaks out. In these cases.Being Creative With the Basic Format • 171 mended that Session Twelve be used to review and emphasize the Follow-Up Plan. the most serious . support them in learning how to use the tools for themselves. have him talk about it in a Holding Exercise. ADDITIONAL EXERCISES Most of the information you need will be in the six-session format. and connection. and responsibilities that they have little energy to devote to the relationship.

Second Edition of which are terminal exits. they are now face-to-face with what they were trying to escape. If a relationship sufers a terminal exit. If she is working overtime or spending long hours at a friend’s house. and divorce are all terminal exits. Next. How mental illness or “breakdown” is dealt with may not be a matter of choice. but it does require professional help at least to stabilize the situation before couple therapy can be done. when couples close their exits. his is where Couples Dialogue will help them over the rough spots. Although it may not end the relationship. he same holds true in the case of an afair. . they will have to quit using these exits as a means of escape. in-laws. Furthermore. Keep in mind that exits are created as ways to avoid what is turning into a painful relationship. and Couples Dialogue will make it safe to work with that energy. have the couple begin to identify some of their deenergizing exits. and any number of things that pull couples away from each other. If. What are some of your deenergizing exits? At this point. If the couple are committed to both the process and the relationship. the other may see as a hobby or interest. Most couples can come up with a list of 10 or more that have crept into the relationship over the years. school. Consider this: 20% of all murders are spousal murders. he only irm decision they will have to make is whether to close the terminal and catastrophic exits. Simply thinking about these exits will drain energy out of the relationship. hey should be committed to begin closing these activities as exits. Closing the exits will put energy back into the marriage. and the relationship may require major reparation. and insanity. his is sometimes diicult because what one partner may see as an exit. Such exits must be closed of before your relationship can mend and you can experience passion again. have the couple dialogue about their deenergizing exits. Make sure you give a word of warning to the couple. her commitment will be to close the exit to spend more time with the relationship. their focus is on the substance rather than on the partner. Murder. sports. work. suicide. herefore. When you irst close the exits. TV. a catastrophic exit does drain it of energy. When people are abusing drugs and alcohol. but the energy drain is evident in the relationship. and there’s no telling how many suicides are the result of a problem relationship. Deenergizing exits are energy zappers that creep into a marriage and may include kids. the relationship is over as all the energy has leaked out. he has been spending 4 hours a week down at the irehouse or on the golf course. afairs. Catastrophic exits include drug and alcohol abuse. his commitment will be to ind ways to cut back and spend more time at home. things will worsen. Have them dialogue until they can validate the other’s position. Help the couple recognize that the diference between now and when they created the exits is that now they have at least one tool to enable them to deal with each other. he person straying from the marriage may think he or she is successfully hiding the afair. A second type of exit is known as a catastrophic exit. he most common types of exits are deenergizing exits.172 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. statistics have shown a marked increase in the divorce rate over the years. for example.

. out loud. Sentence stems help them answer speciic questions and discourage rambling. but are not limited to. I . Sculpting enables couples to create a visual picture of relationships. I . When I get angry. have the couple use the dialogue process in the session. . In addition. . What I always wanted and needed as a child was . Have the partner move the two of you into positions and shapes that best represent his or her views of caretakers. I feel hurt when . Sentence stems may include. .. . Nathaniel Branden and explained in his book. provide sentence stems that may help them organize their thoughts and express themselves. Have one of the partners use you and his or her partner as representatives of his or her parents. I would describe my childhood as . One of the messages I got about me from my father/mother was . And that makes me feel . . Family Sculpting Family Sculpting is based on the work of Virginia Satir (1988) and can be used to help couples understand their partner’s wounds from childhood. . hen. the following: • • • • • • • • • • • • Sometimes I get upset when . . . Give the couple time to process this sculpture using Couples Dialogue. My wish is .. who may have trouble gathering their thoughts. I highly recommend sentence stems as a gentle yet efective method to guide couples in expressing themselves. .. . . the therapist will become a participant in the picture. For partners who are having trouble expressing themselves. .Being Creative With the Basic Format • 173 Sentence Stems Quite often. have the other partner sculpt his or her parents along with his or her role in the family. In sculpting with a couple. have the partner put himself or herself into the sculpture to represent his or her role in the relationship. . And that makes me think . One of the things I had to do to survive was .. his technique is also useful for Maximizers. you are bendable and shapeable. the Minimizer in the couple will have a diicult time with selfexpression. One way to help couples express themselves is through the use of sentence stems—a technique developed by Dr. .. It is the nature of the Minimizer to keep his or her energy bound. What I want you to understand is .. When I get frightened. If You Could Hear What I Cannot Say (1983).. . . Have this partner think of you as being made of clay—that is. hen..

When couples see the relationships their partners had with their parents and their role in their family in a physical depiction. and you may not know how to handle them. Sculpting is a very useful technique. alcohol. including the Handbook of Structured Techniques in Marriage and Family herapy by Robert Sherman and Norman Fredman (1986) and Passage to Intimacy by Lori Gordon (1993). For most therapists. Second Edition his exercise should be used as an information-gathering and empathydeveloping tool. if not impossible. they are often able to access new empathy. If the addicted person is able to maintain sobriety for 3 months. With this in mind. couples with more serious problems—beyond the scope of this short-term work—will come to you. you should work directly with the recovering person on the importance of attending meetings . recommend that the therapist work actively to get the addicted person into an Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12-step program as soon as possible. I ind that the addiction takes on a life of its own.174 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Drug and Alcohol Abusers I’ve never been able to work with couples who present with an active addiction. It is diicult. especially with visual learners. our sculptures were very similar. It’s always beneicial to have a few extra tools in the box! SPECIAL TREATMENT POPULATIONS Obviously. Occasionally. Here are some ideas on what to do in such situations. hese are just a few additional exercises that may be substituted for the basic six-session package. told us that we had similar wounds. Instead. In doing so. in efect. You should also have a substance abuse specialist and a drug and alcohol partial hospital program available for consultation or referral for these couples. this six-session program has been designed to work with those marriages that have your everyday “things are not the same. I used to hope that the addiction was being caused or aggravated by stress in the relationship. and we don’t love each other as we used to” types of problems. I can recall that when I irst did this with my wife. which. Several books are available that can ofer you ideas on other structured techniques. I do not recommend that this work be done with a couple when drugs or alcohol is a present and active factor. be aware that the work on the marriage will be stressful and could very well trigger a relapse. Bearing in mind that the most important learning occurs in the irst three sessions. this takes into account about 90 percent of the couples who walk into your oice. or both to work on their relationship. you can make changes to the package to it your needs and style of therapy. you may try to begin the six-session program. for persons abusing drugs. herefore. Be sure to explain in no uncertain terms that their marriage is headed straight downhill should the addiction continue. however. I do.

and physical or sexual abuse precludes safety. Many nonabused partners soon learn that they themselves have a wound that corresponds to the partner’s and that they. 1990). It is diicult to know when these abuses are occurring unless the couple disclose it. and they were “emotionally incested” (Love. the abuse is frequent or violent and they are not making a commitment to stop it. most will guard their secret. Preventing couples from inlicting harm on one another is far more important than having them undergo the couples therapy sessions. I strongly suggest that you consult an attorney and your County Victim Services Bureau. however. Present Physical and Sexual Abuse On occasion. However. it is rare that these couples will come into your oice. they will reclaim that part of themselves. or maybe their lost part is their feelings. If such a couple comes to you. Help nonabused partners see their role in the recovery. Help the couple with their behaviors irst before working with them on the unconscious forces that bring about this behavior. and empower them to work with their partner as a way of reclaiming their own sense of wholeness. If current abuse is found. Furthermore. Imago herapy can be very helpful. Perhaps they had a parent who conided in them. We have seen great success with recovering people who are committed to the couples therapy sessions. With its emphasis on safety and communication. Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse I have had very good experiences in working with couples in which one or both of the partners were survivors of childhood physical or sexual abuse. Although these abuses are not uncommon in our society. Only when the couple can make safety a promise can growth occur. he same cannot be said when the couple is physically or sexually abusing their own children or each other. no one asks to be hurt. Still. can heal. As I have stressed throughout this work. Again. teach the couple that they are together for a reason as you empower the nonabused partner to be the healer of the survivor. If. and you should neither condone nor be a party to any abuse. too. therapists are advised to report it as mandated by their state’s laws. and. Keep in mind that there are still some underlying reasons for this couple to have chosen each other as partners. if the abuse was in the past and the couple have made a commitment not to repeat it. by helping in their partner’s recovery. you will have a couple who are experiencing physical or sexual abuse. the nonabused partner may need your guidance in dealing with some of the scary things that can occur when a trauma survivor is . safety has to be number one. their safety should be your irst concern.Being Creative With the Basic Format • 175 regularly—especially during this period of therapy—and encourage him or her to speak out about his or her triggers and desires. this work blends well with recovery from these traumas as it gives the survivor someone at home in whom he or she can conide and trust.

If this person can discuss the feelings . herefore. As a matter of fact. the afair is seen as a catastrophic exit or an acting out of feelings. and the receiving partner may be observed “leeing” or “playing dead. he partner who had the afair should also be given time in dialogue to talk about the marriage and the feelings of abandonment or loneliness that he or she may have been experiencing at the time. the sending partner. Spend the irst session gathering information and teaching Couples Dialogue. Sometimes these sessions get loud. the rage must be dealt with irst. When partners make the recovery safe.” here is a lip side to the sending partner’s rage. prepare yourself to have them deal with the rage by using Imago herapy’s Container Process. it will seep out through sarcasm. especially with the partner who had the afair. he structure of the Container Process provides a way for the sending partner to express himself or herself fully. Make sure that the receiving partner “stays with. avoidance. and reliving experiences are normal reactions to abnormal situations. or other behaviors that will make the relationship unsafe.” Suggest that they read Allies in Healing by Laura Davis (1991). As a consequence. Have the person who had the afair get in touch with the feelings that prompted the behavior of the afair while in the dialogue process. you will have to take them through these exercises spontaneously.176 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Give particular attention to teaching safety and the “safe place” information. If not. Because they have not had the experience of using Behavior Change Requests or the Holding Exercise. Help them to see that this is part of the healing and is not “craziness. dissociations. We have found that afairs do not happen in a vacuum and usually occur when the couple are feeling distant from each other. the couple will not be able to do the work outlined in the sessions. he important part is that the sending partner should be able to express rage safely and the partner who had the afair (the receiving partner) should be able to fully hear the partner’s hurt and rage. Couples expect partners to be true and faithful to them. herefore. the reaction typically takes the form of rage. If the couple still wants to make the relationship work. lashbacks can occur and memories lood in. He or she is the one who will have to contain or listen with empathy to the partner’s rage. Second Edition recovering. Affairs Nothing I have seen brings about a stronger emotional reaction than the discovery of an afair in a relationship. When the couple appear to have grasped the importance of safety as well as the dialogue process. the person who had the afair most likely will have feelings about the marriage that prompted the afair. Help them see that lashbacks. Let the couple know that dealing with the rage is your top priority and that they will have to learn some skills to make it safe and efective for them. and growth will not occur.” or fully listens to. and when they are not. It is probable that the marriage was full of exits that will have to be closed to return energy to the relationship. walk them through the Container Process.

hey also report “anniversary” rage a year after the discovery of the afair. and Norcross. Undoubtedly. WHAT IF THE THERAPY DOES NOT WORK? I wish I could report otherwise. by Emily H. 1992). he irst stage identiied by Prochaska et al. (1992) is the precontemplation. Which stage the couple. and all are disappointing in their own way. present in will afect their openness and willingness to change. he Container Process ofers a way to get rid of the rage so the couple can then do the work needed to improve the relationship and avoid any future afairs. Sometimes couples will not “buy” what you are “selling” them. As hard as you try. I have tried to cover some of the most common as a way of emphasizing the importance and beneits of making this work your own. he Container Process may have to be repeated several times in various sessions to fully vent the rage. others will not. Brown (1991). Sometimes the work is too scary for them to approach. Prochaska’s transtheoretical model of change is a good model to utilize when assessing the couples’ readiness for treatment (Prochaska. in which “there is no intention to change behavior in the foreseeable future” (p. Private Lies by Frank Pittman (1989). Ironically. the lame just cannot be rekindled. but the fact remains that we can’t help all marriages. You will often see this in a couple when one partner feels there is a problem and the other does not. As I’ve mentioned. 1103). it is the ones who present with special problems who will keep the work interesting for you. he reasons vary. Couples report feeling rage at various times for months following the discovery of the afair. and Patterns of Inidelity and heir Treatmen. It is important that they know the steps of the Container Process so that they use this tool outside of the oice when the rage reappears. Some excellent books on afairs are Adultery: he Forgivable Sin by Bonnie Eaker Weil (1994). and some may never recover. One or both members of the couple may not be ready for the therapy process. Sometimes going with the resistance by listening . hese couples may be the most diicult to deal with because of the resistance to the work. Sometimes the relationship is too far gone to put back together. DiClemente. or a member of the couple. One of the partners will begrudgingly come in and will sometimes argue with your points. Adapt it to it your needs and your clients’ situations.Being Creative With the Basic Format • 177 in a safe place. It would do the therapist well to determine the stage of change the couple may be presenting themselves in at the time of treatment. the likelihood of repeated afairs decreases unless there is some sort of an addictive quality to the afairs. although 90 percent of your clients may be able to beneit from the six-session program. It is important to become knowledgeable about afairs from various sources so that you are well prepared for these sometimes volatile sessions. Afairs are very threatening to a relationship. his model proposes that there are ive stages that a person moves through in the change process. you will come across other special treatment populations.

but ready to do something about the problem. 1992. hey are typically anxious.. When they terminate therapy. the therapist will have to work with them to continue their forward motion and also to enter the maintenance stage. “Individuals in this stage are intending to take action in the next month and have unsuccessfully taken action within the last year” (Prochaska et al. When these couples call. and they will probably do so in a few months when things get worse and they move into the third stage of the change process. Because of the short-term nature of the work in your oice. 1104).. And. you would do well to let them know that they are making a good decision to get help at this time. 1992. 1104).178 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. p. where the client has intention and sets up a time schedule to make a change. doing homework. and as soon as they ind that piece of paper with your name and phone number on it. hese couples are doing the homework as assigned. he second stage of change is called contemplation. and regularly using the dialogue process because they see its value in their relationship. In this case. While these couples are discouraging. one of the members was most likely not ready to make changes—not something to take too personally—but how sad it is for the person ready to make the change. but have not yet made a commitment to take action” (Prochaska et al. 1992. Maintenance is very important in this work because . p. so they weigh one against the other and say they are not ready yet. Most of the discussions for these couples occur at home as they try to decide what to do about the problem. Couples at this stage know they have to do something. Second Edition to them using the dialogue process will help build trust and may move them into the next stage. 1104). they will give you a call. Use your joining skill here to move the couple into the next stage of action. 1992. hose who do come in feel a bit tepid in their commitment to do the work. You may get a call from one of them to ask about “insurance coverage. In the action stage. just as often. this occurs when the couple is actively engaged in the treatment. While they may sometimes slip into old behaviors—which is inevitable—they are able to move forward using the tool of change you are presenting to them. “individuals modify their behavior.. where “people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it. p. Let these couples know that they can call you back when they are ready.” but no irm commitment to come in for a session. this couple will come for only a few sessions and let you know that they will be taking care of the problem themselves. the motivated couple will probably spend their entire time in the action phase. he solution may be harder on them than the problem. he maintenance stage is when couples work to “prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action” (Prochaska et al. he third stage is called preparation. or environment in order to overcome their problem” (Prochaska et al. his will be done by anchoring the progress made through positive feedback as well as a thorough review of the aftercare plan in this book that is designed to keep the couple in the process. his is a good stage for preparing for therapy because the problem has become uncomfortable enough that both know they need to do something. experiences. and they will often stop after a few sessions. p.. 1103). and they feel as if they are making progress.

you will have done them a great service.Being Creative With the Basic Format • 179 Imago therapy is not conceived of as a short-term ix but as a new way of life. these couples will be able to come back to you for occasional “tune-ups” as a way of staying in the maintenance stage. you may want to have them talk about everything using Couples Dialogue for the duration of the treatment. thus allowing room for couples to have their own “theories” on marriage and for you to show them how they might better understand their frustrations. no matter how safe you make it. Other couples become scared of this work as it homes in on their pain. Unless they have read books on the subject. the more they will take in and accept. If they are expected to trade in their ideas for yours. If you are lucky. the partner seeking the divorce is mentally . the important teachings of Imago can be better assimilated. Perhaps this will be a couple who will quit only to return when they are ready to deal with their pain. he dialogue is the main communication tool. and some people may ind out that it’s not what they bargained for. the couple have to attend three sessions of couples therapy. their relationship will improve. However. “We have decided not to come back”—an unsettling message that may make you question yourself. the couple get too scared to do this work. if you leave room for their perspectives. so the more persuasive and safe you are. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience in reading this book! You question everything. Divorce law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states that if one partner in the couple does not want the divorce. running it past what you know. everything you say will seem like a foreign idea. and too much has transpired. the necessity of the aftercare plan cannot be overstated. and I must confess that I have had little luck in turning the relationship around. they will use their light response and leave the therapy. and if they use only that. If it does not feel safe. he lectures and exercises presented in this book are fairly simple and straightforward. Just remember. his work involves doing some challenging healing work. here will always be those who stick to what they know. Most couples will come to your oice with a preconceived idea of marriage. you will undoubtedly run into diiculty. hey may question you along the way or keep their opinions and concerns to themselves. You may even get that dreaded phone call announcing. Couples doing this work will behave in a comparable way. his is also a couple who may be back to see you at a later date when things get worse or they ind they are more open to your approach. I never wanted to believe that. I have had several of these cases. Usually when the relationship gets to this point. Perhaps you have been analytically trained and the lecturer is a behaviorist. You’ve probably experienced going to a lecture only to ind that the presenter is coming from a diferent theory base than the one you use. but sometimes there is no energy between the partners. here will also be times when both you and the couple know that there is little that can be done to save the relationship and that the best thing is for it to end. and will either absorb it or reject it. these cases are to be expected—not everyone is ready for what you have to say! Keep in mind that even if they walk out of your oice with the Couples Dialogue. If that is the case. Or you are trained in family therapy and the speaker’s work is limited to individuals. if this is not possible. Sometimes.

You will want to encourage a bit of drama in this session because you want some deep emotion. Be prepared for anything. sometimes in saying goodbye. and the other partner will say. So many divorced couples do not have this opportunity. hen have the sending partner stop talking about each item by saying “Goodbye” to each. the decision seems to be set in stone. For example: I want to say goodbye to the way you smell. and they spend many years feeling bitter. If you can see that it is not going to work.” When the partner who wants the divorce has made up his or her mind. At this point. I would feel my stomach turn with every minute on the clock and wonder where you were. For example: I want to say goodbye to your coming home late. . The Goodbye Process his process is designed to help the couple say goodbye and grieve for the end of the relationship.” and then talking about what he or she hated about it. You can give them the opportunity to ind a better alternative by using the Goodbye Process. You will also come across couples who are trying to make one last go of it.” Finally. he receiving partner will be listening intensely. his work usually takes at least two sessions. especially deep emotions and crying. after growing tired of this way of living. I would sit and worry that you might be somewhere dead on the road. If it works. Have the sending partner begin by slowly saying goodbye to the bad things in the marriage by starting each sentence with “I want to say goodbye to . I . I always liked the perfume that you wore. He or she may have been pleading with the partner for years to get the counseling and was met with “We can work it out on our own. I hated that you did not even have the courtesy to call me to let me know you were okay. with each partner having a week to say goodbye. Second Edition already out of the marriage. his is done in the same way. but this time without replying or mirroring. hen have the sending partner switch to the positive things he or she is going to say goodbye to in the marriage. Paradoxically. Have the sending partner do this for each of the negative things in the marriage until he or she feels that the list is exhausted. he sending partner will be saying goodbye. it’s great. And now I will not have to worry about that anymore. he or she iles for divorce. . there is one wonderful gift you can give to the couple: providing the chance to say goodbye and to grieve over the loss of the relationship. and whenever I smelled it. they will have had at least one session on Couples Dialogue and know the value of listening and hearing each other. and they will usually take this work to heart. “his caught me totally by surprise. Keep a full box of tissues on hand.180 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Goodbye. I thought of you. the couple come to realize the value of the relationship and may choose to stay in the marriage and do the work necessary to heal the relationship.

sat next to each other at their weddings. It’s sad. his is where the bitterness of divorce usually lies. to the brain. Goodbye. this exercise makes things so real that the thought of leaving outweighs the problems. he inal part of this process is for the couple to say goodbye to the dream. Remember that we pick partners based on the positive and negative aspects of our early childhood caretakers. his work is so intense that it is best to work with one partner each session. and it is best that couples get to grieve the loss of the dream rather than live with the bitterness. I will miss that smell. When the couple come back for the next session. Again. have the sending partner do this until the list is exhausted. you would come to mind. the sending partner says goodbye to the dream in the same way.Being Creative With the Basic Format • 181 could be on a busy street and if someone walked by with that fragrance on. have them reverse the process—the receiver is now the sender. He said. Do not be surprised if these two people change their minds about splitting up. but it is best that they get the chance to say goodbye to these rather than carry the feelings around forever. One of the hardest parts of ending a relationship is knowing that things have not turned out as planned with the person you planned them with. I pictured us together to the end going to movies and on vacations. he emotionally tearful part usually happens with the positive parts of the relationship. leaving your partner is akin to having a parent die. but without replying. so. and then have the chance of being with our grandchildren together. I cannot do that anymore. Sometimes. Proceed with the therapy if they change their minds. and you have to grieve. . “I feel as though I got hit by a truck!” What he was experiencing was his own grief. I once received a call from a man that summed up the process pretty well. Goodbye. he sending partner is usually so emotionally drained that he or she could not possibly listen to the other saying goodbye. Every couple goes into a marriage with a dream of how it will be and what they will accomplish. For example: I want to say goodbye to the dream of growing old with you. I used to love the way the light would come into the window and how we held each other for hours. Now that dream cannot be. I really thought we would have raised our kids well. Again. Goodbye. I want to say goodbye to making love to you on a Sunday afternoon. It is very hard for the couple to leave the good parts of the marriage. while the receiving partner listens with feeling.


it is important to recognize what stage of development their marriage is in. STAGING IN COUPLES THERAPY When working with couples. he following case studies ofer some examples of what couples struggle with at various stages of couple development. Just as in Carter and McGoldrick’s classic work he Expanded Family Life Cycle (1999). Couples’ needs and problem areas will change over the course of the marriage depending on the stage. the main case study in this book. And then there are those who. the couple has a life cycle of its own. 183 . Some. Others may be more interested in the skills. like Dave and Diana.12 CASE STUDIES Most couples who come to see you will be able to use this material without a problem—if they are really committed to growing in their relationship. while giving it a try. will be psychologically minded and be able to do some very deep emotional work. Some couples may think that you’re out of your mind and will resent your meddling in their relationship. are so wounded that they will fall back to their familiar—albeit hurtful—style of relating. just hoping to get their marriage back on track.

values. for the sake of the family may be a necessary decision. relatives.000–30. hese inventories measure the couple’s strengths and growth areas. it is probably one of the most important times for couples to see a counselor. typically. this is a relatively small fee. Imago Relationships International has a list of counselors who ofer Imago Education workshops for new couples. First. the relationship seems perfect and they feel no need for advice from anyone. the relationship is perfect at that moment. In other words. and programs such as PAIRS. . It is far better to discover this before marriage than after. and Marriage Encounter ofer programs of outstanding quality and value. ACME. but with the average wedding running in the $20. Many times these inventories show young couples that they have so many areas of disagreement that marriage may not be the best choice for them. Early Marriage Although marriages tend to start of well. And. A second thing a new couple may want to do is to attend a couples skills workshop. Couples who come into therapy early in the marriage tend to have basic living skills issues such as how much is too much with the guy friends and girl friends. problems with in-laws.000 range. It is important to work on such issues early because they tend to be at the root of resentments that build over the course of marriage. partners are typically open and vulnerable. it is rare that you will see a couple in counseling at this stage. such as the Prepare Inventory developed by David Olson. And in many ways. children. Second Edition Premarital Stage Because they are typically so happy and idealistic. he total cost is about $300.184 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and treat each other with respect. Counselors trained and certiied in the model administer the test and. It would be wise for two important things to occur at this stage. provide three counseling sessions. here are several groups that ofer these workshops for couples who want to improve their communication skills and learn techniques for maintaining and improving their relationships. young couples may begin to ind that living with someone has its problems. proceeding full steam into a relationship that may or may not be good for them. the couple should be encouraged to take some sort of premarital inventory. but sometimes couples develop habits that become long-term. they are on drugs. However. which allows them to ignore each other’s faults. and housekeeping situations. phenylethylamine (PEA) is lowing through their veins. as mentioned in an earlier chapter. or changing a career plan. destructive resentments. Having to give up a dream of travel. they are correct. and give the new couple a visual representation of where they may experience problems and struggles—such as around money. For many young couples. or intimacy—later in the relationship. At this stage.

but not every time. his worked for the most part. and Wayne looked so happy. they are still important to you and you want to spend time with them. Tara: My desire is that we spend some Christmases with my family on Christmas Day like we used to. and then spent the evening at Wayne’s. Wayne is very close to his family. Did I get that? Is there more? Tara: Yes. sad. Wayne: So you feel as if my family takes on more importance than yours. and Tara less so with hers. and Tara made a Behavior Change Request. By the third year.Case Studies • 185 Newlyweds Wayne and Tara Wayne and Tara have been married 2 years and dated 3 years prior to that. Maybe not everytime. . but enough that I feel a part of my family. Christmas is an important holiday that begins early and ends late in the evening. I miss my traditions and want to be able to celebrate with my family too. he second year. For Wayne’s family. It feels like something important is missing. but they are still important to me and I want to spend time with them. his proved to be very stressful for them because of the traic and a rare Christmas snowfall. hey followed the same pattern for the next 2 years. Did I get that? hat makes sense to me. on the other hand. with your family. It feels like I’m missing something important in my life. Tara had to say something. Wayne and Tara dialogued for a bit more about the Christmas situation. Tara: I’ve been feeling upset about not being able to be at my parents’ on Christmas Day. he irst year of dating. they spent the morning at Tara’s family. but Tara missed being with her parents on Christmas Day. Tara. which made Wayne happy because he was able to be with his family as always. I hope that we can share my family traditions so that I will not feel resentful about missing my family. While I love your family. on occasion. so they decided the next year to spend all day at Wayne’s folks before traveling the next day to Tara’s home. if I’m getting it. Did I get that? Is there more? Tara: Yes. and while you may not be as close of a family as mine. and I can see you might be feeling a longing to be with them. Wayne: So. My family may not seem as close as yours. you miss the traditions you grew up with in your family around Christmas and you want to be able to celebrate them sometimes. but she still enjoys her visits to her family home 2 hours away. and a bit of resentment that we have spent Christmases with my family and have left yours out. they each went to their own family’s home and celebrated their Christmas the day before. it seems that your family takes on more importance than mine. you are upset about not being able to see your parents on Christmas Day. was having a more diicult time with the arrangement. his is where “dialogue” came in. but she decided to keep it to herself because she wanted to keep the peace. Wayne: So.

hey talked all night. Did I get that? Tara: Yes. By listening and responding to Tara’s request. and they found themselves at dance clubs almost weekly. Couples with Young Children For most young couples. it is an incredibly stressful time where the couple learns to adjust their relationship to allow one or more children into the system. and at the same time take care of the relationship. his is not to say that he should agree with her every time—certainly. So. . hey were able to keep a regular schedule of fun and work for the irst few years of marriage. but that we would like to share the holiday with my family on occasion. Although they are a joy to have. discovering that they lived only 20 miles apart and that they both liked to dance. Children change everything. there will be less long-term damage to the relationship. I’d like you to have that. Wayne: So. hey enjoyed the atmosphere.186 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Wayne: hat makes sense. my second request is that because you know that this may upset your mom. a sense of trust will become the anchor for their love. Paul and Deb Paul and Deb met at a party at a shore house in New Jersey. but that we want to share the holiday with your family. So. you are requesting that we spend this coming Christmas with your family and that we igure out some way to spend some holiday time with my family either before or after Christmas. children tend to come into the picture a few years into the marriage. Dancing became a passion for them as they began their relationship. Further. sometimes couples will begin their families right away. either before or after Christmas. the lights. Second Edition Wayne: So. Did I get that? Tara: Yes. Wayne: So. Wayne was able to prevent a long-term resentment from being seeded. although with young adults waiting longer to get married. and the sweating of great dance music. that you contact her and your dad within 2 weeks and prepare them for this change. your second request would be that I talk to my parents within the next 2 weeks to let them know about this change and that it will not be every year. your desire is to spend some Christmases with your family and that we can share family traditions so you will not build up resentments about this issue. I’d like you to let them know that this will not be every year. my request is that this year we spend all of Christmas Day with my family and igure out some other arrangement regarding spending time with your family. Did I get that? Tara: Yes. he would begin to feel some resentment if he did that—but if couples are able to respond to matters like this even some of the time.

he baby sufered from bouts of colic. Deb was furious and told him that it felt like an afair. Paul and Deb have to learn how to “pay themselves irst. Did I get that? . Initially. In return. Often. and they become strictly parents and not partners. their sex life sufered because they were so tired. you’re thinking that the friendship at work formed because you felt lonely and missed the intimate. he needed a female to talk to. According to Shirley Glass (2002). adult conversations we use to have. he talked about her often to Deb. Paul may not understand why he has to give up the relationship. hey were able to get out occasionally. Although it may be appealing to have a best friend of the opposite sex. passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love” (p. especially after their second child was born 2 years later.Case Studies • 187 and one summer. Deb announced to Paul that she was pregnant. plus they were often tired because they had been up at night with him. but he should be encouraged to do so for the sake of the marriage. he and Deb will need to ind time to have adult conversations so he feels less lonely. it seldom works out well. What you desire is an adult relationship between us where we can talk intimately like we used to do. but not so often. 1). couples complete all of their parenting roles and save the time left over for the relationship. Paul and Deb were able to understand that their lives had changed because of their child. and he felt that it was harmless. and told her that because she was so involved with their children. Deb: So. they quit being romantic. Paul might want to ask Deb for a behavior change request. he had cofee with her each morning at the local cofee shop. so they tolerated being home more and giving up their passion for dancing. Paul: I think I formed that friendship because I did not feel that we were friends at home. so she asked Paul. “he new inidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep. It would be important for the therapist to work to revive the “couple” identity of the relationship by having them go out together. At irst. the parent–child relationship. In fact. one partner becomes jealous of. and. Paul and Deb were at a very critical place in their relationship. this would mean to dance again! Perhaps they could establish a regular dance night and ind a reliable babysitter so they could go of.” It is also important that Paul give up the friend at work. He did not understand this. or feels left out of. hey quit dating. For Paul and Deb. but then he seemed to stop. Paul began what he would call a “friendship” with a woman at work. which made it diicult to go out in the early days because they did not know when he would have an attack. What I really desire is a relationship with you that that allows us to talk intimately about ourselves like we used to before children. Deb wondered if they had ended their friendship. hese times are like fuel for the couple to get them through their parenting responsibilities. just the two of them. he trouble is that there is typically no time left. Paul told her that he still talked to her. Additionally. he couple curtails their activity with each other to be available to the children. in fact. hey were both overjoyed at the thought of becoming parents and were very happy when the baby arrived. Too often.

before seven o’clock so we are not too tired. what you are requesting is that three times a week for a half hour we ind time before seven o’clock when the kids are occupied to have a conversation or dialogue about our day. and substance use. but would rather be with . So. You know that I am from a big family and I like to talk. Did I get that? Paul: You did get that. I think it would be good for us. and a son. we ind a half hour. Deb: Does that remind you of anything from your childhood? Paul: It does. My parents did not have time to listen to me as much as I would have liked them to. It will be important for Paul and Deb to ind time for each other. Dealing with this sort of behavior can push couples to their own limits if they are not working together well and listening to each other about the stresses inherent in raising adolescents. and I can see how your childhood contributed to this need. Ray and Lani Ray and Lani were married for 20 years with two children. No one was surprised when she got into the top-tier college. a daughter. Couples with Adolescent Children Teenage years can be turbulent for both teens and their parents. You are someone who likes to talk and to be heard by others. and where the kids are occupied so we can be alone. Naomi.. 18 years old. you seek out others to listen to you. or our dreams. Ray Jr. Ray Jr. where she plans to major in international business. our fears. my request is that three times a week. Deb: So. Second Edition Paul: Yes. charming. and it will be important for these parents to maintain contact and remember the importance of the couple relationship if they are to make it in the long term after the kids are grown. funny. but I need people around me and for them to be interested in me. was always diferent. I’d like for you to have that. your parents did not have the time to listen to you the way you needed to be listened to. and attractive. lying. I think that is even why I liked to dance because I could be around others at the dances. Naomi was a dream child: smart. fears.. Deb: So.188 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. our hopes. driving. I can be interested in them. 14 years old. Kids grow up quickly. And now your request makes sense to me too. and have an adult conversation to dialogue about our day. And in return. or dreams. He was smart. our hopes. hat makes sense to me. being from a big family. I often felt lonely and would seek out friends to talk to. and when you are lonely. You need adult conversation. Teens are often enjoying their newfound freedoms. It might seem needy. and may take advantage of those freedoms by pushing limits on curfews. on the other hand.

You feel as if we need to do something now. When I don’t take you seriously. and Ray feels that the problem is being overblown. Ray Jr. they have grown distant. He is not like Naomi. He has a diferent personality and is more of a follower than a leader. Did I get that? Is there more? Lani: Yes. Ray: So. He’s more of a follower than a leader. does this remind you of anything growing up? Lani: Yes. I think if they’d done something earlier. things would have been diferent. I say something about this. and I’m afraid that you don’t take me seriously either. We need to address this. you think this problem is a serious one and you would like for me to take it seriously. hat’s such a bad thing because this is serious. and my parents really tried with us.Case Studies • 189 his friends than studying. but my brother did not do as well. I don’t want us to be scared to approach Ray Jr. He swears that he did not drink. and I’m afraid that he will become part of a gang or something. I was able to do that. Did I get that? Is there more? Lani: Yes. “It’s just a phase. and that might take him down a bad road. who gets angry at his casual attitude. seriously. We did not grow up in the best of neighborhoods. It makes me not want to talk to you. I don’t want that to happen to him. it make you want to keep things to yourself. on the other hand. He is going down a bad road. he therapist encouraged them to listen to each other in dialogue. But they were scared to approach him. Ray: So you see this as developing into a serious problem. Ray has a diferent personality than Naomi. I’m afraid that he may get himself into trouble and mess up his future college plans. and it took years to straighten himself out. if I am getting this. Lani does not feel she is being taken seriously. and you blow me of. but it seems that he is only one step away from crossing the line into some troubling adolescent behavior. You know he had a bad problem with drugs. He has been getting into some trouble recently and was caught with a group of kids who had alcohol on them. Ray. herapist: Lani. You are worried that this is more than a phase and that if he gets in trouble it could afect his future college plans. is developing a serious problem. you are afraid that I am not taking you seriously and that this is a serious problem. She feels that the problems are serious and should be responded to in a serious manner. hey pushed us to go to college so we could better ourselves and get out of the neighborhood. my brother. Ray: So. like into gang behavior or something. and that’s not a good thing right now because you feel we should be working together on this. his situation has caused tension between Ray and Lani. sees his son’s behavior as typical of an adolescent. Lani: I need you to take this problem with Ray Jr. It feels to me that we have a serious problem. Ray. I think he is hanging out with a bad crowd and this is more than a phase. Because of this diference in their attitudes.” he tells Lani. .

Sometimes the styles are too harsh. Most of the research states that changes are occurring in the brain that slow the activity in the frontal lobe of the brain that is responsible for executive functioning and making good decisions. You’ve had the experience. Men and women who have identiied themselves for so long as being a parent of young children can have an especially diicult time in recognizing that their job description has changed as their children reach young adulthood and move out on their own. this reminds you of your brother who did not do as well as you. he home becomes a bit lonely. It is good to read some of the research on changes in the adolescent brain to pass on information to parents about what is going on for their child physiologically. and most will need to go through a period of redeining the . In fact. hat makes sense to me. you cannot ignore that there are many factors. Second Edition Ray: So. especially for families with adolescents. energetic. but were afraid to. such as their parenting. and a real grief can set in as parental roles change. At this stage. you might be tempted to believe that all adolescents are trouble. that are afecting the marriage. look for parenting styles with adolescents. scheduling. Couples Launching Children he transition of this stage of parenting and couplehood can be very diicult. and work issues. Sometimes. You don’t want to be afraid of Ray Jr. and sometimes they are too lax. most are fun. You want to get to this early so he does not end up like your brother. and even in this day and age. and well behaved. It helps if parents can take these stands together to keep the teen from splitting them in their decision. his leaves a lot more time for the couple in the relationship to spend together. as in the case of Ray and Lani. we can say it is especially so for mothers. who often need structural help in moving through this diicult stage of development. Relationships with grown children shift from telling them what to do and keeping them safe to being interested in what they have done and trusting that they are experienced enough now to know how to keep themselves safe. If one were to read most popular literature. and I can see why this is so important to you.190 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. He got caught up with some of the neighborhood problems and started taking drugs. Parents of adolescents need to work with their teens to help them with their decision making. and at times they need to take a irm stand when they see their teen about to make a seriously bad decision. Although the couple is seeing you for couples therapy. You know what can happen. the styles don’t match. Sometimes you have to be the expert in parenting and other family issues. creative. You feel as if your parents could have done more and earlier. It is always good to maintain your family therapy skills as well as couples therapy skills. Lani: Yes. It is also helpful to keep in mind that not all adolescents have a diicult time in this stage.

empathic. Phil: So. everyone is happy for you and they do not understand why you are so sad. Lois felt sad. rather than proud. but they got big. confused. She felt less necessary to her children. if I’m getting it. as she hoped. What makes sense about that is you are a good mother and you prided yourself on that. Lois: I am just feeling so sad about the kids growing up and how my role has changed in their lives. Lois did not argue with that. And I can see how you might be sad. who were. his is a delicate period for many couples. very independent. Lois was having a real grief reaction that Phil was having a hard time understanding. they used to need me. And everyone is happy for us. Two scenarios are often seen at this stage: grieving over the loss of the role. but I’m not happy. hey used to want to be with me. and full of grief. . He was very proud of his kids and their accomplishments. but now you see them less because they sleep late and seem more interested in their friends than in you. You loved being a mother to the kids. Because they did not have extra money. I did not know it would be this hard. you are really not happy because it feels like the job you love is ending too soon.Case Studies • 191 relationship and themselves. And since the kids are doing so well. hey have sent their irst to college. and felt that he and Lois should be proud of what they had done. Did I get that? hat makes a lot of sense to me. hey made a decision early that they would struggle inancially and Lois would step out of her teaching career so that she could be home with the children while they were growing up. and ambitious without being spoiled—very solid and sure of themselves. And although most of their friends and colleagues were congratulating them for getting to this stage and having such ine children. the three kids were productive. especially those where the mother has dedicated her life to the children. And now it must seem like your job is ending. Phil and Lois Phil and Lois have prided themselves on being involved parents. Did I get that? Is there more? Lois: (now sobbing) I am so sad. and their next two teenage children were anxious to graduate and move out. She needed to grieve. Phil: So. but now. hey would ight for my attention. you are remembering how they used to need you and want to be with you. I thought they would stay little and would need me. and it ended too soon. but felt sad that her role had changed. Phil: So. hey would ight for your attention. you are feeling sad about the kids growing up and how your role is diferent in their lives. Did I get that? Is there more? Lois: Yes. It was really a parttime job. they sleep late and want to go out with their friends. and redeining of the self.

Her style of dress changed. the couple will have no problem supporting this quest for the self. I am inally able to be me and become something I have kept under wraps for many years. and she got a stylish haircut and dyed her hair two colors. hey will all adjust to their new roles with each other. However. Lois had changed. She decided that she did not want to go back to her teaching job—something he hoped would help with their mounting debt—and instead chose to pursue a social work degree. Because of your role as a wife and mother. And there is no doubt that Lois will heal and end up stronger if she is given the time to fully express herself about this change in her life. Once the kids went to college. it bothered him because she was going out with her friends from school and staying out late. or any other signiicant loss—this grief will take time. In some ways. envisioning growing old together. And it could be that Phil will have some grief too. She had always wanted to help others who were homeless and needed services to survive. And the next part of this stage may be Lois questioning just who Lois is at this point in her life. Did I get that? Is there more? . Lois attempted to put into words what was going on for her. this stage often comes with a big shift in roles that sometimes startles the partners as the new roles emerge. here are a signiicant number of divorces at this stage as women who have given most of their selves to the family now seek to ind out who they are and will become in this next stage of their development. she is able to grieve fully this signiicant change in her life. and supporting each other’s desires for the future. Phil was confused. and she will need many opportunities to be heard in order to heal. When Phil is able to hear her without cheering her up by reminding her how great the kids are doing. It would be important for Lois to provide some time for Phil to talk too. At the same time. but Phil was concerned that his usually conservative wife was now changing into a person he did not know. they. too. If the marriage was reasonably happy and there are few resentments. you had to keep part of yourself hidden. Lois will need many experiences like this with Phil. As with other grief—death. Lois was not having an afair. he liked it because she was laughing more and wanted to go out on the weekends more. After listening to Phil’s concern that she was away a lot and that she might be having an afair.192 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. If the normal life-cycle processes happen as they should. Second Edition Lois needed a place where she could grieve the loss of her role in her children’s lives. She began going to college and spending time with younger graduate students. Phil: So. but she was enjoying herself and was in a period of transition as she moved from who she had been to who she was becoming. and now you feel like you can let that out. Lois: I spent so many years as a wife and mother. what I am doing now feels so freeing. Phil also worried that she was having an afair. As fathers become more involved in their children’s lives. the loss of a job. may experience the loss of their role. you now feel free to be yourself. Her kids thought it was hip. the relationship for Lois and Phil with their children will evolve into a more mature adult-toadult relationship.

You will seldom see couples in treatment at this stage. and curious about how it will all turn out. have paid of all or most of their bills. and I’ll be your wife. Phil: So. Did I get that? What you are saying makes sense to me because you did give everything to raising the kids. determined. I am enjoying doing social work. and this allowed her to be present to Phil in the evening after she got home. to dress better. And I’m in the process of inding myself.Case Studies • 193 Lois: Yes. if I’m getting it. Lois and Phil had a few tough months as Lois inished school and settled into her second career as a social worker. and to be a little selish with your own needs. I am being a bit selish with my own needs. but I know that I will soon. It is a tough time for me and I am scared. To see the smiles and gratitude of the people I have been helping has been so good for me. I’ll be better. I’m enjoying this period of freedom from the roles. I realize that this is not what you hoped for and that you expected that I would be helping with the bills now. and yet connected. Phil: So. You like the freedom to laugh more. and now I can see that you need to ind yourself. And for others who have entered this stage in poor health. have not saved up. you are being a bit selish with your own needs and you are saying that this period of you life won’t last forever. he following case is based on stories told from several older couples who had to face the loss of a spouse and the conversations they have had to have toward the end of life. I just did not think I wanted to do that as a teacher. I’m enjoying being a little freer to laugh. . You are in the process of inding yourself and feel that I will like what you ind because you like what you are inding. Did I get that? Is there more? Lois: Yes. I want to have fun with you. And I also know that it won’t last forever. hey developed a good network of friends and were able to redeine their relationship on a more mature basis that allowed them to be independent. I heard you say that you want to be my wife and grow old and have fun with me. or who have not remained friends. and I really believe that you will like what I ind because I’m starting to like it. to think about my own needs. this stage can be lonely and miserable. you are enjoying the freedom from the role of mother that you had for so many years. She felt fulilled in this position. to dress better. And I imagine that you feel scared. and maybe have a little money saved up. but I can see that it is important for you to do this. When you do. and yet the stage always ends on a sad note. I’ll be back. you may ind you learn more from them than they can learn from you. I want to go on trips with you. For couples who have good health. Couples in Later Life Couples at this stage have many things to look forward to. I want to grow old with you. You like social work and helping others. this stage can be full of new adventures and a glorious time of fun and romance.

Bill worked part-time at the local hardware store. met in high school. hey saved enough money to live well and enjoy signiicant travel experiences across the country and parts of Europe. which caused signiicant stress to the relationship. And worse. his is all very scary to me. I think I’m going to be alright. Bill got his degree in engineering and started a long career as a building engineer. I’m going to miss our walks and our talks. really. and that she had stage 3 breast cancer. Sarah: I think I’ve had a great life. Tell me more. Sometimes I am. She made an appointment with her doctor and found that the lump she found was one of many. I think we’ve had a great life too. and I know that I will cry a lot. you’re not so much scared as you are worried about leaving me behind. I can see how you are happy with how things turned out. I don’t really have any regrets. But I know our love is strong and real. Bill: So. Sarah: Yeah. worked two jobs. but Sarah often found herself quite sick from the treatments. and sometimes I’m not and know that everything will be okay. Bill: Yeah. and we do have great children and grandchildren. But I know that we have done well. their dialogues had become less formal and more natural. I have a few regrets. You have been mostly good to me. bought a small house. in-law issues. After a modest start. Sarah: I’m not scared. were quite content with how their lives turned out. (smiling) hat is so like you to worry about me and others. But Sarah and Bill were able to work through each of these challenges and now. which let him come and go as he pleased—a great way for him to stay social and keep his mind going. I’m going to be very sad. I’m more worried about leaving you behind by yourself. here were problems in the marriage—inancial struggles. Sarah had many friends whom she visited and shopped with regularly. we have great children and grandchildren. hey both started out in working-class families. Second Edition Sarah and Bill Sarah and Bill had a great 50 years together. they were able to save enough money for a nice home and a comfortable retirement. he lump seemed quite small that Sarah found one morning in her breast. and radiation treatments. Like many others of his generation. Bill and Sarah needed to prepare for the inevitable and have long conversations about their lives together. At the beginning of their retirement. here would be many hospital stays. he married Sarah when he returned. they both enjoyed good health and were able to take daily walks to keep it. but you’ve lived such a productive life. You are my best friend. And I can see how you will miss our time together because I cannot even imagine not being here sometimes.194 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. had two kids. Over time. chemotherapy. . and then Bill was shipped of to Europe for the war. It was not easy for them. in their early 70s. and went to school on the GI Bill. I knew you were scared about this. the treatments were not working. hey tried to keep their regular routine as much as possible. and Bill had a brief afair. Bill and Sarah’s world had now changed overnight.

going to ball games. For this couple. By no means are these cases failures. You will recognize them immediately. although they’ll be interested in what you have to say. “JUST FIX IT!” For many. he remainder of this chapter of case studies should give you an idea of some types of couples you may encounter or are already encountering. Sarah passed peacefully a few months later. hrough the therapy. hey begin to do the emotional work they thought they could avoid. they become willing to look at behavior patterns and their origins. you will ind that there are many couples who are interested in improving their marriage without having to do all of the “childhood” work. Being therapists. However. hey haven’t a clue. but he always thought he would go irst. Although Bill had not thought that he would be strong enough to be by himself. or they may choose to use the skills to get through their daily routine and to lessen tension. and taking vacations. hey come to understand that their many years of denial only served to contribute to the problems in their marriage as they’d unconsciously “take it out” on each other. but receives great support from his children and friends. What you’ll more commonly ind are people who are interested in living their everyday lives. not the rule. hey lead very practical lives and simply want the skills. he has managed and is slowly becoming active again in his church and clubs. You will know them. Once this is underway. hey may stifen and appear visibly uncomfortable during the Holding Exercise. and couldn’t care less. hey’ll still leave knowing the skills and feeling better about the relationship. However. It will also demonstrate how keeping couples in the dialogue process may be their best hope in overcoming problems. hey may save that for home. they become irm believers in the psychological process. hey’ll probably have very little to write in the “Finding Your Imago” form and explain they don’t remember much about their childhoods. we want to see our clients work on their deep psychological issues. In fact. without showing any real emotional response. hese are the folks who want life to be as free of tension as possible. hey’ll often giggle or be at a loss for words while doing exercises such as Parent–Child Dialogue or the Container Process. that their childhoods may have contributed to the stressful situation in their marriage. hey are amazed to learn how their childhoods contributed to their choice of mates as well as to their present power-struggle issues. this work opens a door they thought they’d shut years ago. paying their bills.Case Studies • 195 Bill: (sobbing and holding Sarah) You are mine too. Bill and Sarah often spoke about how one would have to bury the other. Bill is very sad. but you won’t see them doing any real emotional work in the sessions. . these clients are the exceptions. it’s deeply satisfying when they do. they will do the work merely by rote.

You can spend every session in dialogue. And I’m dreading this winter with her. Either way. During the sixth-session Container Process. Often. hey sought therapy because Susan was feeling alone and neglected. I hate the mess. they may have spent the time laughing at processes others consider central. Her complaint is not about the amount of work she does. the couple will learn the skill of healthy couples. An avid hunter. and there you . Only later will you ind out how important a process really is to them. he most recent source of stress was the hunting dog Jim bought. Jim: (laughing to therapist) You want me to encourage this? herapist: Yes. She’s messy. You have to realize that your family is important to you. Jim would spend many autumn weekends in the mountains and a considerable amount of time tracking when the season was over. I hated last winter because she was in the house so much more and really got in my way. She enjoys preparing meals every day for Jim and the kids. Second Edition two options present themselves. She works while the children are in school and greets them when they get home. she says. hey live in a rural town. and she’s proud of her meticulous housekeeping. Jim is a mechanic. Susan chose to vent her anger over the dog. We are more important than the dog.196 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. she feels conident in her role as wife and mother. Raised in a traditional religious family. having them talk about their everyday issues and giving them the experience of talking safely and eiciently. her father was also an avid hunter. I get mad just thinking about it. As she explains it. he dog demands too much time and attention. his left Susan at home with the children on many weekends. Jim and Susan Jim and Susan were just the kind of couple I would describe under the “Just ix it!” label. Or you can proceed with the six-session format as written and hope that one of the skills will prove important to them. Susan: I simply do not like this dog. and I don’t have time to take care of her—and you—and the house. Jim: Tell me more about that. I just hate everything about her. Susan: his dog is ruining our family. he therapist observed Susan to be a tolerant person. I do. nor is it about Jim’s hunting activity. She used to crap all over the place (laughs). Her gripe is the dog. She’s a pain and takes you away from us. here will be times when you will think they’ve learned nothing. an animal that requires constant attention and training. and much of the work falls on her while Jim is at work. Your kids need time to play with you. and I look out. and Susan is a veterinary assistant. She’s a lot of work for me and has thrown me of of my routine. you’ll be surprised by which processes become signiicant to a couple.

I would have felt invisible. But they may not have been ready or willing to hear that. Although the process was not deeply emotional and did not address childhood wounds. . masculine personality in which he likes to assert his authority and cut her of so that she remains Difuse and unable to assert her power. I guess it could. Of course. Susan’s Behavior Change Request. Susan: hat is correct. Susan: (pause) Oh. I feel like you heard me. I would like to talk about her using this dialogue process. validate. since you are usually defending her. Instead. Well. the dialogue process provided the means for Susan to have her needs met. I would like you to do this for 15 minutes. Susan was more concerned with the here-and-now and the dog in her house. . it reminds me of when I was a kid. his was the irst time that I felt as though you heard me. He was able to come to understand that she felt upset about the dog and how it pulls him away from the family. . when we talk about the dog. We are important! We are more important than the dog! herapist: And when I don’t feel important. We all seemed to come second to the house. Susan appeared not to be interested in going into any depth with her childhood wound. which will make it easier for me to deal with the dog. a clean house was more important than we were. Jim was able to listen to his wife by using the process. and empathize with you or listen to your anger using the Container Process because that will let you know that you were heard and you will not feel invisible. At this point. Instead. Although it may have been signiicant that she felt her mother was more concerned about the house than her. the therapist could interpret that Susan’s wound was in the identity stage and that she feels as invisible with Jim as she felt with her mother. you would like me to mirror. Something has to be done. . When I think of my mom. to my mom.Case Studies • 197 are—playing with the dog. If you had defended her. When we talk about the dog. but I am very angry about this dog and how we come second to it. Susan felt as though the process had helped her feel heard by Jim. It seemed to the therapist that this process carried minimal emotional impact and instead was more of a venting and problem-solving session. revealed the importance of the session to her. herapist: Can you ask Jim for three Behavior Change Requests that will help this situation? Susan: Yes. two times this week. You would like for me to do that twice this week for 15 minutes. In contrast. She wanted more of this so that she would not feel invisible. Jim: So. I don’t know. he therapist could also interpret that Jim had developed a rigid. however. they were not discontent with the structure of their marriage.

hey often have numerous nonspeciic illnesses that require frequent visits to the doctor. Susan’s other Behavior Change Requests about the dog were practical requests that would make her feel as though Jim were more a part of the family and that he had her needs in mind. hese included.198 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. EARLY WOUNDED COUPLES Some couples will have early wounds in their childhoods that will make this work diicult. questions. For the Avoidant person. hey can be very bright. or hugs. in turn. Although they are very aware of their need for human contact. any contact is overwhelming. they fear it because they think they might lose the contact after having received it. who will then retreat. who tends to isolate himself and avoid relationships. Couples wounded in the attachment stage—Clingers and Isolators—did not receive holding or proper nurturing in the irst year of their lives. they will overwhelm the person giving the attention with frequent phone calls. relating better to computers and laboratory instruments than to people. logical. feeds the Clinger’s fear of making contact. these people did not receive or. As children. these requests will help her begin to be taken seriously. his fear often comes true because. this third request will help him stretch into his compassion.” For Jim. Again.” and “I would like for you to spend 30 minutes four times a week playing with the kids with your attention focused only on them. Early wounded couples are those with developmental wounds in the attachment or exploration stages. cards. and they ask for it constantly from their partners and from others. such as pastors or those in the health profession. even though he may not be aware that he is in need of this area of growth. could not take from their early childhood caretakers the necessary holding and warmth or the encouragement to explore. hey often have a diicult time with being touched and tend to be asexual in nature. Avoiders prefer jobs that are not people-oriented. . and sometimes even violent. “By the end of September. this is due to early attachment and trust wounds. Such behavior smothers the Avoidant person they marry. and Behavior Change Requests provide the change needed for the couple to get what they need. herefore. For Susan. Second Edition For couples who only want to have their marriage “ixed” so that it will “work” more smoothly. they may possibly need a longer amount of time in Imago herapy. heir marriages tend to be volatile. and yet being touched frightens them. make her visible. when they do receive attention or afection. and help her claim some power in the relationship. hese people are typically stif in posture and uncomfortable in groups. dialogue provides the listening and understanding. Partners referred to as Clingers are aware that they need touch. hey need touch. I would like for you to inish the work on the heated doghouse so the dog can spend 3 hours a day outside in the winter. loud. his. gifts. their needs in the marriage are basic. for some reason. and successful if they can ind their niche.

but no one shared their excitement when they saw or did something new. the children learn through the connection that it is okay to explore. If. withdrawal. no need for them to scream if someone is in a true relationship with them and validates their thoughts. but doing so severed their relationship with the caretaker. When parents mirror children at this age. Bob and Glenda are a good illustration of a couple wounded at the attachment stage. can have brief glimmers of a trusting. whenever I want. It is important for the therapist to mirror these couples in all interactions with them. I mention these couples here because they are diicult to manage in shortterm therapy. boats. these couples learn the importance of dialogue. the narcissistic partner would rather believe that the Fuser is crazy and in need of help. and when they grow up. In fact. hey could explore. a mix that can be explosive. Often. hey were also wounded when the excitement and awe of their new discoveries were not mirrored by their caretakers. however. look around. As children. or possible violence. and begin to separate—without losing the relationship with the parent. rather than resort to the typical yelling. here is. clothes). over the six sessions. You want them to remain connected to themselves and to what is happening in the session. the more someone has to pay attention to them. Couples wounded in the attachment or exploration stages need much more coaching than usual and. hey become narcissistic.Case Studies • 199 Couples wounded in the exploration stage can have volatile marriages. these couples—Fusers and Isolators—are referred to as borderline and narcissistic respectively. and I am going to be the best at it. he louder they get. they scream to keep the partner in the relationship with them. Currently. after all. he growth occurs in the connection. so they’ll get involved in businesses and buy “toys” (cars. with it. heir wounds occurred at about 2 years of age when they were unable to explore their environment. Nature puts this person in a relationship with the person we call the Fuser. Diagnostically. hey are told as toddlers that they must stay close and that. To heal the wound. if they stray. But when these people are truly mirrored. they tend to do just that. he unspoken message they live by is “I’m going to do whatever I want. But mirroring them is the hardest thing for their partners. Bob and Glenda Bob and Glenda began therapy because of the severe ighting in their marriage. after which Bob would retreat to his . they quiet themselves and feel human. they’ll fall back into old patterns between sessions and feel despair. he Isolator learns that it is not okay to explore. they may do well on their own in the long run. Progress can be made and seem to disappear quickly when one of the partners gets scared. Isolators may be children you would call spoiled or overprotected. empathetic relationship. hey’d get very loud and throw things. Fusers were allowed to explore. Yet the natural urge is to separate. they may lose the relationship.” For them to be in a relationship is to lose the ability to live by this motto.

but quite the opposite occurred: herapist: How was your week? Bob: I think we probably hit an all-time low. Did you do the homework? Bob: I have trouble with the physical contact. I take it as an attack. Glenda is disabled with sundry nonspeciic ailments. He seemed interested when she began to describe tearfully how she had no memory of her mother ever holding her or telling her she was special.” Glenda is well-read and can often be found at her local New Age bookstore. herapist: You want to be diferent? Bob: No.200 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. I’m one of those people who should be by himself. I want to be the same. this was a wonderful. herapist: How so? Bob: he concept of “safe place” is lost on me. because I’m one of those people others would characterize as abnormal. I used to like when people brought out the worst in me. herapist: So you are saying that you are one of those people who should be by himself because you are one of those people others would characterize as abnormal. I don’t relate to her that way. “I have been to every doctor. I’m better of by myself. herapist: You did it in the last session. he therapist had every reason to expect a good report for the fourth session. With a considerable amount of coaching from the therapist. Over the years. It’s so evident. here was a time that I enjoyed that. but I want to be it by myself. I cannot feel for her. herapist: (to Bob) Can you see her pain? Bob: I just see it as an attack. But I don’t enjoy that anymore. Whereas Glenda often appears sad and teary-eyed. and none of them can help me. He seemed very touched when she actually fell asleep in his arms during the Holding Exercise. She says it’s pain. but since it’s personal. Bob is observed to be stif and seemingly self-absorbed. herapist: Can you see his pain? Glenda: I can see it every minute of every day. Glenda: he homework helped me understand what’s going on. Second Edition lab. Bob was able to loosen his stif posture and listen to Glenda as she described her abusive childhood. she’s explored alternative treatments for her physical and emotional health. I get really defensive. where he had been a scientist for 15 years. his has brought out the worst in me. I can’t make myself safe with Glenda. How would others say you are abnormal? . empathetic healing session. By all accounts. his made their third session all the more remarkable.

he wound they sustained was around attachment. provide a safe holding environment. Be sure to mirror that back. he best help you can give to them is to create a safe place in which they can slowly explore. One possible approach would be to have Glenda begin by touching Bob’s hand and having Bob talk about his experience of being touched. It’s a role that I got into early. at the same time. just as she feared. hey tend to be strict with their children. with Glenda mirroring. and I enjoy it. Be aware that this couple will resort to using the defense mechanism of splitting. And then the children grow up. or to be recognized as an equal. mirror constantly so they can learn that it is okay for each of the partners to have his or her own ideas and. so it is intimidating when they experience closeness. for the most part. of course. It is important for the therapist to recognize the fear these couples have of intimacy. he Rigid person has a need to maintain control and seems to maintain his identity . and thrifty. However. they have a familiar groove that keeps everyone on course. and to mirror them so they feel they are in a safe and empathetic environment. too. albeit sleeping in separate rooms and living parallel lives. or threats of abandonment from the family. devastated by this turn of events. he Rigid-Difuse couple spends many years in a state of inequality. stay in relationship. and are respected by them. they are pressured back into the groove through stares. his may seem like a small step. go back to school. early wounded couples have a diicult time maintaining the empathy and closeness. it did not last. hey are often hardworking. I’m not a real people person. he intimacy in Session hree probably occurred too quickly for them. looked rather good to those around them. As is often the case.Case Studies • 201 Bob: hey would probably say that I’m antisocial. hey’ll vacillate between your being the best therapist in the world and your not knowing what you are talking about. he moment of closeness she experienced the week before was exactly what she wanted. When they begin to feel safe with you. For the exploration-wounded couple. THE RIGID-DIFFUSE COUPLE he Rigid-Difuse couple have. usually the woman. A model family by all outward appearances. but these couples often remain together. manipulation. I see myself as an outsider. Couples wounded at this stage need change to happen slowly. but intimacy is scary for the early wounded couple. Should anyone get of track. But these couples are scared and terribly vulnerable. neat. For the attachment-wounded couple. they will allow you to take them into the harder terrain that is necessary for their growth. he tendency for most of us trained in the pathology model is to diagnose and pathologize the relationship. One might not expect this kind of marriage to last. here seems to be an awakening that occurs in which the Difuse partner wants to begin a career. his is the couple 17 to 18 years into their marriage. Glenda was. Often they come to you because of the desire for change from the Difuse partner.

. I really can’t think. Difuse partners have long given up their identity to the Rigid partners who seem so sure of themselves. He’s in tears because the world he created seems to be falling apart around him. he power struggle heats up when the Difuse partner decides that it is now time to ind an identity.” he Rigid partner will counter rather self-righteously by saying. but they’ve run into some signiicant communication diiculties. the Couples Dialogue is a wonderful skill to break the symbiosis that is prevalent in these couples. It is the strong person who decides when “enough is enough”—to shake the marriage in an efort to get help. I suspect that Rigid persons work hard to convince their partners that they are making a mistake—that they shouldn’t rock the boat. in turn. which have prompted them to enter therapy. When I do. We therapists may never know how many of these couples exist. Don: How can you be upset about something if you can’t express what it is you’re upset about? You speak in nebulous terms. It went something like this: Jean: I get upset with you because you just don’t let me express myself with you. hey have grown children and enjoy each other’s company immensely. here are several ways the Rigid-Difuse couple may present themselves for therapy. he Rigid partner.” knowing all the while that the rope will be let out only so far. In other cases. In the irst session. his makes sense as a manifestation of wounding that occurred in the Identity Stage. is gripped by fear. you tell me that my ideas are stupid or of the wall. Jean: Because I’m afraid to express it to you. You say that there is no reason for me to feel that way. Don and Jean are in their early 50s and have been married for 3 years—a second marriage for both. Second Edition through controlling his environment and family and by looking and acting a certain way. Don and Jean If you’re lucky. Still others may use threats and violence to maintain the equilibrium. Don: When I ask you for speciic examples of what you mean. Jean: Because you get me so worked up. hey may come in with the Rigid partner only wishing for you to ix the Difuse partner and talk some sense into her. I can’t think. you can never give me any. because you get angry. hey feel fortunate to have found each other and are committed to staying together to the end. the therapist asked them to produce a 3-minute frustration. “I need some space to ind myself and develop new skills and friends. If they do. he Difuse partner may say. Rigid-Difuse couples will seek your help early in their marriage.202 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. “I’m all for that. this couple may come in with a Difuse partner illed with conidence as she’s been working hard and is ready to enter the world.

It’s so frustrating. . hey can mean anything. . It could be a general area. Jean: You have to have one speciic general thing. He uses coercive and sometimes verbally abusive techniques to throw of Jean and make her feel that she is wrong. Don: Put a name on it. Because of her wounding. Jean is not able to gather her thoughts. now I can’t think of one. hey were taught the dialogue process in the irst session. . Jean: I feel you treat me like a child sometimes and that you don’t respect the way I feel. because they can easily work on their problems with the dialogue process. Jean: Because it could encompass a whole thing. Jean: . Don: With your way of thinking. Anything could it your package. at that particular time. Don: If I am hearing you correctly. herapist: Mirror. and sometimes I can’t do that.” Jean: Oh! But see. You feel like I want you to behave . hat is just crazy. Sometimes you go on and on and on. It seems that you want me to behave the way you want me to behave. Don: Well. and sometimes I can’t think of it. You use terms that don’t have any real meaning. Don: For example? Jean: Ohhh! Don and Jean are a clear example of a Rigid-Difuse couple.Case Studies • 203 Don: I get angry because you can’t communicate what it is that’s bothering you. hey produced the following dialogue in the second session. but they’re not okay for me. . she presents heavily from her feelings. put a name on it. you say.” and you walk out of the room. that’s okay. Jean: But if I do tell you. “Give me an example. You don’t give me speciic instances of what it is that I did that bothered you. it can be anything. you said it feels to you that I treat you like a child and I do not respect the way you feel.” Don: his is what I would say now. Don and Jean were smart to have sought help early in their marriage. you say. So they were asked to practice this skill for homework. but if I raise my voice to you. If you raise your voice to me. which proved diicult for Don to do because he wanted to control Jean’s thinking. She’ll need a sense of safety and understanding from Don in order to express these feelings accurately. A lot of things are okay for you. “hat’s crazy. Okay. and you cannot put a label on anything. “I’m not going to stand for this. Don obviously wants things presented to him in a certain way and would like nothing more than for Jean to think like him. .

Did I get that? Jean: (laughing now because she is being mirrored and heard) Yes. because anyone would want to feel like a grown-up and have their feelings understood. . But in some ways I love it because you protect me. you love it sometimes because you do like being taken care of. you feel childish. herapist: (softly to Don) Stay safe and mirror back just what you heard. Don: So. But I want to have feelings that you respect. Jean: Yes. Don: So. you are saying that I treat you like a little girl sometimes. just listening to me. Don: So. I want you to think of me as grown up and with feelings. I can understand that. yes. Don: So. Second Edition the way I want you to behave. You just want to be listened to. but you also want to have feelings that I respect. you resent that I can come to you with how I feel. you want me to think of you as a grown-up with feelings. Did I get that? Jean: (smiling) You got it. I need you to listen to me and try to understand my feelings. hat makes you angry and frustrated. Did I get that? Jean: Yes. Don: Is there more? Jean: You treat me like a little girl sometimes. but there are times when we argue that I want to be able to tell you how I feel without you judging me—without you yelling at me. Don: So when we disagree. if I am getting that. and sometimes you cannot do that. but you can’t talk to me about how you feel. You make sense to me. I imagine when I do not do that. Don: Is there more? Jean: You make me very angry when you treat me like a little girl. Don: Is there more? Jean: I feel angry and frustrated when I can’t talk to you and tell you how I feel. Did I get that? Jean: (giggling) hose were my exact words. You want me to listen to you and try to understand your feelings.204 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and I love that you take care of me. Jean: You got it! hanks. Did I get that? Jean: You did. unheard. you would like to be able to tell me how you feel without feeling judged and without my yelling at you. Don: If I got that. but you can come to me very upset. and invisible. you’re getting it! I like that you take care of me. it makes you angry when I treat you like a little girl.

Sandra decided to take a college course. however. John would work at least 6 days a week and often until late in the evening. John started a manufacturing business soon after they were married that has now made them inancially secure. Her irst marriage was to an abusive man who tried to control her every move. here will also be less of the hierarchical relationship often seen in Rigid-Difuse marriages and. and be the perfect “businessman’s wife. John and Sandra have a 16-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. and beautiful furnishings. the crisis usually comes when the Difuse partner decides it’s time to ind an identity and move out from under the rigid structure that has been endured for many years. When her youngest turned 12 two years ago. John thought the idea was “cute” and igured it was better than . a mountain home. but he wouldn’t listen: “It can’t be harder than what I do in a day.” Sandra decided early in the marriage to tolerate this for the children’s sake. they will be able to let each other develop in their personal lives. and they quickly assumed their roles. But all of this came at a price. he call typically comes from a distraught Rigid partner who says he never saw it coming. he would complain to Sandra about her housekeeping: “What are all of these toys doing all over the place? You’re home all day. chaufeur the children. more of a partnership marriage. and you don’t have time to clean? Do you just sit on your ass all day?” Sandra would try to explain that taking care of small children was much harder than he thought. Sandra devoted her time to home and family. hey have all of the trappings of wealth: a nice house.Case Studies • 205 he therapist saw Jean laugh and noted that a look of joy was on her face several times during this interaction. When he would come home. Sometimes these marriages go on for many years before they reach a crisis point. instead. If Don and Jean are able to keep up the dialogue process and stay attuned to each other’s feelings during their disagreements (Jean will also need to mirror Don’s discomfort when he feels he is not in control). it doesn’t always work out this way. Every day she would clean. so she became dutiful and learned to let the insults roll of her back. she igured this was the best job for her. he is open to change and to making the relationship work. Unfortunately. John and Sandra Married 17 years. he crisis can be dramatic: What seems like a strong family suddenly splits apart. and maybe you’ll get some things done around here. luxury cars. Stay of the phone with your friends. heir irst child arrived a year after they were married. his will increase empathy from the receiving partner. John and Sandra best illustrate this pattern. Although Don is also controlling. Couples Dialogue will also give them the opportunity to discuss on a deep level where their patterns started in childhood. She had come from a family in which she was not heard as a young girl and was left to deal with her own feelings. As stated previously.” Having quit college after two semesters. whereas John immersed himself in his work. I expect this place to be clean.

with the idea that she might then continue her education. She knew what she wanted to do. It lets me know that he is human.” He went on. All their material wealth has done nothing to make her feel important. he second session produced this dialogue. He began to question why she needed to be out so much and whether she should be spending time with her fellow students. but he blew of the idea. She was now beginning to feel a sense of accomplishment as her years of life experience were paying of in good grades. All the while. I’ve been crying myself to sleep every night. Sandra enjoyed the class so much that she decided to pursue an associate’s degree. Did I get that? . and he started to feel suspicious. Sandra had been through a lot in the past 17 years. hen Sandra announced that she would be getting an apartment. he house feels so empty. I think it will be good for him in the long run. John: his feels so sad to me. “I am trying to start a life of my own. John called her a “fool. He would be nice to her for a few weeks after that. And John sat in disbelief and anger as she packed. She had been invisible in the relationship. telling her that they could work it out. A breakup at this point could be permanent if Sandra feels that going back to John is a step backwards.206 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. but then he’d return to his old ways. She reminded him that she had asked him several times to go to therapy with her. Second Edition her sitting around all day.” “What will others think?” he would yell at her. he response does not appear to be so much in a vindictive “Now you know how it feels” way. but school has. I have given up everything for this family. You have been crying yourself to sleep every night. He’d call her names like “tramp” and “whore. “You’d give everything up just so you can ind yourself? You’re dumber than I thought!” But Sandra was not shaken by this.” And although Sandra was not willing to go back to John yet. She began spending more time at school and socializing with a group of younger students. John was now becoming concerned. he admitted to being distraught that the world that he created was falling apart. here was a lot of hurt and little recognition for what she had done to support her family and support John in his success. During the session.” his began to make John upset. It is time to do something for myself. and she was not about to give it up. She has found what she was looking for. she stated that she was willing to learn the processes with him so that they could learn to communicate. and she liked the feeling. She was being recognized by her professors as a student with real potential. She wanted to pursue it. Sandra would tell him. but rather “I like that he is having feelings about this. Sandra appeared conident in her decision to leave. Sandra: I hear you saying that it feels sad and the house feels empty. his is a very unsure time for many relationships. He could not believe that he didn’t see it coming. One curious aspect of their interaction is that Sandra seems happy that John is feeling distraught. although Sandra assured him that this had been building for years. John called for the appointment 2 weeks later when he realized that this was not just a phase his wife was going through.

I thought the business would make me happy—and to some extent it did. I was scared. John: Yeah. It was horrible. Sandra: You realize that you left me alone a lot and blamed me for my unhappiness. Sandra: So. overwhelmed. Did I get that? John: Yeah. You said that you did not ask me what would make me happy. and hopeless. I don’t think I have ever felt hurt like this before. Dad was so mean. Sandra: So. especially when he was drinking. in your family. Did I get that? John: (sobbing) It’s all falling apart. I messed up. and you feel you messed up. He was always yelling at your mom. and I imagine that you might feel sad. I messed up. who were disorganized and ilthy. you had to control everything. I promised myself that I would not live that way. He was always yelling at her. I couldn’t bring anyone home. Mom was so busy with the others. herapist: And that reminds me of when I was a kid. and they did not. You said that you thought that the business would make you happy. My guts feel like they are ripping out. and I kept that promise. I can see that you feel that you messed up and it feels like your world is falling apart around you. Sandra: So it feels like your world and everything you tried to create is falling apart. You now know that you may be to blame. herapist: Can you validate that? Sandra: Yeah. It really feels like you messed up. To do that. and she was so busy with the other kids. People told me how great I was all the time and I loved that.Case Studies • 207 John: Yeah (crying). Everything you tried to create is up in the air. John: You know how my family was. Everything I tried to create is falling apart. Scared that I would end up like them. In the process of being at the business so much. I did not see. I thought my success would make you happy. You felt . But I messed up. you promised yourself you would not live like your family. your dad was so mean when he was drinking. I have really messed up. I blamed you for your unhappiness. and he would abuse her so much. (sobbing) hat’s so scary to me. I thought the material things would make you happy. I did not ask you what would make you happy. Sandra: If I hear you right. It makes sense. John: I left you alone so much. and it did to some extent because of all the praise you got. you missed your family. he house was so ilthy and disorganized. You thought that your success and the material things would make me happy. I tried to control everything. but I missed my family. my kids growing up. and it was me. that’s it. you are saying that you have never felt hurt like this before. It feels like your guts are ripping out.

She cannot become what he wants her to become. they are wounded on a developmental level. And he needs to touch it so he can deal with his verbally abusive childhood as well as discover again that life contains both success and pain. if I can get the partners to pause and use the Dialogue process. She does need to see his humanness show itself through his pain. hat makes sense to me. hose in Rigid-Difuse relationships often cause pain in order not to feel their own. mainly caused by John not hearing Sandra and understanding her needs. I can see how you would think that you would need to control things so it would not end up like your family. the therapist should help the Rigid partner experience and reveal his pain in a safe. you will start to notice patterns. With Rigid-Difuse couples. she is in a growth path that will need to be encouraged using Couples Dialogue in the relationship. What seems to work is helping the Rigid partner to sincerely encourage the Difuse partner’s growth through mirroring and validating. Unfortunately. I imagine you feel very scared and down and disorganized. it usually results in a future breakup. Second Edition scared. here have been many years of hurt in this marriage. To provide a structure for couples to learn to hear each other is a service that we should strive for in our work—because it is the place from which possibility emerges. John: Yes. At the same time. If John wants this marriage to work at all. his means that as you begin to use this work regularly. and it feels like you messed up. He also has to become more lexible in his dreams for the family to make room for Sandra’s dreams and her growth. Whenever a couple seems to be getting out of control. I have observed Rigid partners using Couples Dialogue to coerce the Difuse partners back home and into the same pattern they were living in before the breakup. he will have to learn to fully hear Sandra and understand her needs in the relationship. Sandra will also need time to dialogue. it is important to be watchful for the Rigid partner using the dialogue to manipulate and control the Difuse one. hese patterns will give you the guidance you need to apply your basic tool: Couples Dialogue. John is touching the core of his wounds—a place he was trying to avoid since he left his family for college. . compassionate place with his partner by using the dialogue process. It should always be kept in mind that although couples will present in many ways and each deserves to be treated as an individual case. and the best place to feel it is in dialogue with Sandra. John needs to feel his pain. To be heard and understood is a basic need we all have. it is probably too soon for her to totally recommit to the relationship.208 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. Although this may work for a while. And although her compassion is available for him. he has avoided it at the expense of Sandra. CONCLUSION hese cases are illustrative of just a few of the many that we encounter in our oices. with John hearing her clearly. It was now time for John to drop his guard. they become centered and they listen to each other.

com he following professional associations have established committees to respond to managed care. Also available is a professional training resource directory listing courses for therapists wishing to become Certiied Imago Relationship listing Certiied Imago Relationship herapists throughout the country. Information is available by calling or writing to IRI.Appendix I RESOURCES PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS Imago Relationships International (IRI) IRI is the credentialing body for Certiied Imago Relationship 209 . American Association for Marriage and Family herapy 112 South Alfred Street Alexandria. Suite 1825 Arlington. he Institute distributes a resource catalogue listing and has a comprehensive Web site (www.imagorelationships. NY 10038 1-800-729-1121 www.imagorelationships. Suite 1001 New York.. VA 22209-3901 703-907-7300 www. as well as other courses to increase American Psychiatric Association 100 Wilson Blvd.psych. Information is available to members. his Web site also lists weekend couples workshops conducted by certiied workshop presenters internationally. Imago Relationships International 160 Broadway East Building. VA 22341-3061 www. or at the IRI Web site. as well as products you may ind useful for your couples.aamft.

210 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. DC 20002-4242 800-374-2721 National Association of Social Workers 750 First Street NE.nbcc. NY 10018 212-302-7240 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Grand Central Station National Board for Certiied Counselors 3 Terrace Way. Box 459 New York. Suite 200 Washington. Suite D Greensboro. DC 20002 202-408-8600 www.O. Suite 410 Arlington. CA 91409 818-780-3951 . Box 9999 Van Nuys.apa. Second Edition American Psychological Association 750 First Street NE Washington. Fairfax Drive. VA 22203 703-387-1000 Employee Assistance Professionals Association 4350 N. NY 10164 212-686-1100 Narcotics Anonymous ORGANIZATIONS TO RECOMMEND TO CLIENTS Substance Abuse For couples experiencing substance abuse in the marriage: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters 1372 Broadway New York.O. NC 27414-7699 336-547-0607 www.

IL 60611 312-988-5584 Women’s Legal Defense Fund 122 C Street.. IL 60602 312-263-6477 American Bar Association. NW. Suite 540 Chicago. Suite 400 Washington. DC 20003 202-293-8860 Professional Legal Services For divorcing couples: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 20 North Michigan Ave. DC 20001 202-887-0364 . Mediation and Arbitration Committee 750 North Lake Shore Drive Chicago.Appendix I: Resources • 211 Domestic Violence For couples experiencing domestic violence: National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-333-SAFE (7233) National Child Abuse Hotline 800-422-4453 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence P. Box 15127 Washington.O. Family Law Section.


Siena College. herese Hannah. Snyder. New York. who were sent a letter informing them of the study and asking them to prescreen couples prior to referring them to the study. the Global Distress. intimacy. 1981) were selected as outcome measures. Inclusion criteria were as follows: Couples must  M. and Problem-Solving Communication scales of the Marital Satisfaction Inventory (MSI.. Afective Communication. is assistant professor of psychology. Loudonville. It was expected that scores on the MSI would decrease from pretreatment to posttreatment. Because IRT is hypothesized to have a positive efect on couples’ communication skills and to facilitate the development of empathy. 213 . Ph.D. SUBJECTS Couples were recruited through agencies and therapists. indicating an improvement in marital functioning. and conlict resolution.Appendix II THE EFFICACY OF SHORT-TERM IMAGO THERAPY Preliminary Findings Wade Luquet and Mo herese Hannah he study presented here was designed to measure improvement in marital functioning following a structured six-week program of Imago Relationship herapy (IRT).

he present study was limited to heterosexual couples. thus afording him or her a deeper understanding of the sending partner’s “woundedness. During this and the ive subsequent therapy sessions.” At the end of each session.214 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. the couples again completed the MSI. and the third couple was lost to follow-up. a second developed health problems that prevented them from completing the program. with an average age for females of 43. including a homework sheet detailing the processes that they were to practice prior to the next session. must have been married at least one year. Although the original sample was composed of 12 couples. One was discovered to be experiencing domestic violence. Second Edition have been referred from an outside source. in the third session. and resolving rage.6 and for males of 44. caring behaviors. had been married for an average of 14 years (the range being 1 year to 29 years). 2 were high school graduates. 5 had completed some college. Five of the couples were in irst marriages.7. he couples were then taught an experiential process that enabled them to apply the lecture topic. couples were further screened to assess their interest in completing the brief therapy program.8. and must not have a current substance abuse problem and/or domestic violence problem. For example. the other four were in their second or later marriages. all Caucasians. his process typically produces an empathic experience within the receiving partner. . Once referred. couples were given several forms. During the irst of the six sessions. hese couples. Of the 18 subjects. 1981) as a pretest measure of marital adjustment. restructuring negative behaviors. couples completed the MSI (Snyder. his was followed by a onehour therapy session. All subject couples were seeking couples therapy for current relationship distress.7). a lecture on the importance of empathy was followed by a process called the Parent-Child Dialogue. Four participants had graduate or professional degrees. three couples were dropped from the study prior to its completion. childhood development and mate selection. PROCEDURE he six-session IRT intervention was based on the 20-hour Getting the Love You Want weekend workshop for couples and utilized shortened workshop lectures and a subset of the workshop processes. SD = 9. which were spaced one week apart. After the sixth therapy session. the importance of empathy. and 5 were college graduates. 2 did not complete high school. couples were given a brief lecture on one of the following topics: the triunal brain and its efects on safety in the relationship. he ages of the 18 participants ranged from 26 to 58 (mean = 44.

who called them weekly to discuss problems or concerns. Internal consistency coeicients derived from combined general population samples and clinical samples ranged. he Global Distress Scale (GDS) consists of 43 questions about distress in the marriage. Each had been certiied for at least 2 years by the time of the study. Afective Communication. and thoughts. 1983. from . Dissatisfaction With Children. Sexual Dissatisfaction. . he MSI has demonstrated both internal consistency and test–retest reliability. herapists were instructed to adhere as closely as possible to the author’s modeling of the sessions. mildly distressed. and T-scores higher than 65 were viewed as indicative of severe marital discord. feelings. hey were also given telephone access to the author. Raw scores on each of the three scales were converted to T-scores. Family History of Distress. for individual scales.80 to . they read the author’s manual. Evidence for construct validity includes the ability of MSI scales to diferentiate among distressed. Test–retest coeicients showed a mean correlation of . cited in Snyder. T-scores lower than 50 were indicative of low levels of distress. T-scores from 50 to 65 relected moderate distress. and Problem-Solving Communication. hey also viewed a videotape of the senior author conducting each session with an actual couple. Time Together. cited in Snyder. were Global Distress.89 for the scales. he three scales selected for focus in this study.88). as would be expected for scales relecting marital distress. which describes the steps through which couples are led during each of the six therapy sessions. and contented couples (Scheer and Snyder. As discussed by Snyder (1981). for reasons discussed earlier. Selection was based on the therapists’ interest in participating in the study as well as on their proximity to the senior author. 1981). It yields scores on 11 scales: Conventionalization. and Conlict Over Childrearing. Snyder and Wrobel (1981.Appendix II: The Efficacy of Short-Term Imago Therapy • 215 THERAPISTS Five Certiied Imago Relationship herapists were selected to participate in the study. 1981) is a 280-item self-report inventory. he measure consists of a test booklet and answer sheet to which partners respond individually. MEASURES he MSI (Snyder. herapists were trained in the brief IRT model as follows: First.97 (mean = . Global Distress. Afective Communication (AFC) is a 26-item scale designed to measure a partner’s understanding of the other’s moods. Disagreement About Finances. Problem-Solving Communication. Role Orientation. Afective Communication. 1981) found that couples preparing to divorce and couples entering therapy showed similar MSI proiles. Problem-Solving Communication (PSC) consists of 38 questions that tap the couple’s ability to solve their diferences in a positive manner.

he amount of change. with males dropping an average of 7.01.7 SD 8. posttreatment scores dropped to at or near a T-score of 50—the level of distress reported by couples who describe their relationship as close.34 Global Distress Scale (GDS) Afective Communication (AFC) Problem-Solving Communication (PSC)  p < . mean AFC = 57.4 8. one-tailed). Problem-Solving Communication showed a decline of 9. p < . When data for males and females were analyzed separately.3.6 8.2 t 3.216 • Short-Term Couples posttreatment on all three MSI scales.51 posttreatment. females dropped an average of 12 posttreatment.8 57. 48. female scores declined an average of 12 points. structured format is associated with improvements on three dimensions of marital functioning.9 6. . as measured by the MSI.4 points (t = 3. on PSC.8 9.001.11 6. committed.8 RESULTS Pretreatment scores on the three MSI scales all relected moderate levels of distress: mean GDS = 59. p < . Whereas pretreatment MSI scores fell well within the moderate range of distress.8 Mean Difference 6. Second Edition TABLE II.9 7.8 points was noted on Afective Communication (t = 5.3 59. p < .1). interesting gender diferences emerged.5. A mean drop of 8. p < .and Posttreatment Scores on MSI Scales Pretreatment X SD 9. one-tailed). for males only two scale scores dropped signiicantly—AFC and PSC.4 points. and mean PSC = 59. was greater for females than for males: on AFC. one-tailed). Global Distress scores dropped an average of 6. pre. DISCUSSION hese data suggest that the use of IRT in a standardized.4 50. whereas males declined by 5.34.1 Pre.001. short-term.8 (see Table II.6 9.14 Posttreatment X 53.01. Whereas females showed statistically signiicant declines from pre. and feeling-oriented and who also report being able to resolve diferences when they occur.2 points (t = 6. Statistically signiicant declines occurred on each scale from pre.

and Wrobel. 52. K. N. Detroit.. K. D.. (1981). Wayne State University. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services. Marital Satisfaction Inventory manual. 155–164. (1983). T.Appendix II: The Efficacy of Short-Term Imago Therapy • 217 REFERENCES Scheer. Empirical validation of the Marital Satisfaction Inventory in a nonclinical sample. Determinants of marital dissolution: An objective comparison of couples seeking divorce with couples entering marital therapy. Unpublished manuscript. and Snyder. . K. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. D. MI. (1981). S. Snyder. D. Snyder.


Kate Ketterer. and LeeAnn Kot are psychology majors and 1997 graduates of Siena College. Kerri Galvin.Appendix III BRIEF REPORT Short-Term Imago Therapy and Changes in Personal and Relationship Distress Mo herese Hannah. Hypothesized changes from pre. she is the coeditor of the Journal of Imago Relationship herapy. Joan McCormick. who completed the COMPASS (Howard. and LeeAnn Kot his study examined posttreatment changes associated with a brief form of Imago Relationship herapy (IRT. Brill. also contributed funding..  Mo herese Hannah. Mahoney. A Certiied Imago Workshop Presenter and Imago posttreatment on COMPASS and on several relationship indicators were found and are described. 219 .to eight-session format of brief IRT. Kerri Galvin. is professor of psychology at Siena College and a licensed psychologist. Lueger. Robyn Hayes. Robyn Hayes. Wade Luquet. Kristin May. Joan McCormick. Kate Ketterer. he Institute of Imago Relationship herapy and the Association for Imago Relationship herapy. Complete data were available for 21 experimental couples. 1995) symptom measure and a variety of other personal adjustment and relationship measures prior to and following a six. his study was funded in part by a Harvey Fellowship awarded by Siena College to the senior author. Hendrix. Kristin May. Ph.D. which Luquet (1996) devised speciically for the managed mental health environment. he researchers deeply appreciate the generous support of these organizations and individuals. he limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are discussed. along with various members of the Imago herapy community. 1988). and Grissom.

. Imago Relationship herapy (IRT. 1988). and stonewalling) that are used to predict marital failure. Luquet and Hannah. 1996). Hannah. For example. Second. 1986). and conlict posttreatment on relationship measures (Waring et al. 1997. A pilot study of its eicacy in the alleviation of personal distress and marital dissatisfaction revealed . however. validation. Markman and Floyd (1980) used a ive-session program to teach couples efective communication and conlict management skills. as deined by Gottman’s (1993) well-known “four horsemen” (criticism. although evidence is still scant and equivocal. A study of outcomes associated with a short-term (10-week) model of Cognitive Marital herapy (CMT) revealed no signiicant improvement from eight-session) Imago herapy model was developed by the second author and is outlined in a published manual. and behavioral changes. although CT improves communication. Markman and Floyd’s positive results persisted even at 5-year follow-up. Short-Term Couples herapy: he Imago Model in Action (Luquet. 1996). is described in the best-selling book Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples (Hendrix. a study of Behavioral Marital herapy (BMT. based on an integration of psychodynamic. it includes a measure of increasing prominence within managed mental health. and interpersonal theories. 1995). demonstrated a decrease in the frequency of negative communication behaviors (complaining and criticizing) in treated couples as compared with wait-listed couples.220 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. concluded that. Baucom and Hofman. hey found their program efective in preventing dysfunctional marital behavior. IRT uses a variety of interpersonal processes to improve intrapersonal functioning and interpersonal relating. he dialogue serves as the basis of many other Imago therapeutic processes. hus far. Hendrix. cognitive. Imago herapy uses a psychoeducational approach to accomplish attitudinal. Empirical data on IRT’s efects are promising (Hannah et al. there have been relatively few investigations of short-term couples therapy models. found an increase in positive communication being associated with the treatment (Jacobson.. contempt. COMPASS (Howard et al. 1978). marital adjustment is only slightly afected. intimacy. his study has a number of unique features: First. and McCormick. Luquet. IRT is hypothesized to have positive efects on couples’ communication skills through facilitating the development of empathy. Only one study of BMT. despite the large body of empirical literature on the eicacy of couples therapies and the increasing prominence of brief therapies. which teaches problem-solving behaviors. 1977. he short-term (six. behavioral. 1996.. the study yielded one of the few currently available sets of empirical data on Imago herapy outcomes. manualized form of Imago herapy (Luquet. which focuses on couples’ listening skills and expression of emotion. 1988). and empathy. which has been used to measure outcomes of individual as opposed to couples therapy. Likewise. 1996) and changes in relationship satisfaction and intrapersonal distress. defensiveness. a review by Baucom and Hofman (1986) of communications theory (CT). a three-part communication process consisting of mirroring. hese include the Intentional Dialogue. Finally. 1991). Second Edition We report here preliminary indings on the association between a short-term. this study was the irst evaluation of Imago herapy that included multiple measures of both individual and relationship adjustment.

demonstrating the eicacy of Imago herapy in alleviating intrapersonal distress as well as relational diiculties would be beneicial for a variety of purposes. who called down the list until the target comparison group size. 1997. Each therapist was asked to study the brief IRT format and then apply it with up to ive couples presenting for treatment in the therapist’s practice. we contacted a list of persons who had requested information from IIRT about Imago herapy between January and May 1996. Couples were excluded if either partner was currently receiving individual therapy. approximately 2 months apart (to parallel the pre. METHOD Therapists/Subjects Originally. was obtained. they read a prepublication copy of Luquet’s (1996) manual. volunteered to serve as experimenters. To qualify for participation as a comparison group couple. experimental therapists were trained in the brief IRT model as follows: First. in fact.and postmeasurements of experimental couples). each partner had to agree to complete a set of questionnaires at two points. 1995) Mental Health Index (MHI) in individual distress that was approximately equal to that shown by individual therapies. Luquet and Hannah. 20 couples. Procedure Treatment Condition Therapists To ensure uniformity of posttreatment (Hannah et al. to ascertain whether any changes noted in the experimental couples were due to factors other than the brief Imago herapy. Heterosexual couples who had not previously received any form of Imago herapy were eligible for inclusion. Clearly.. certiied according to the training and supervision criteria of the Institute for Imago Relationship herapy (IIRT). such a demonstration could justify the allocation of scarce mental health dollars to dyadic therapies at a level more on par with that of individual therapeutic models.. showed a rate of improvement on COMPASS (Howard et al. Brief Imago herapy. In an attempt to solicit a nontreatment comparison group. 18 Imago Relationship herapists. In terms of managed mental health. 1996).Appendix III: Brief Report • 221 statistically signiicant improvements from pre. which describes the steps of each therapy session and provides . Comparison group couples were prescreened over the phone to ensure that they met the same inclusion criteria as did the experimental subjects. Comparison group couples were solicited via phone by the project’s research coordinator.

experimental couples came into their therapist’s oice to complete the pretreatment set of questionnaires. who led weekly telephone conferences during the irst few weeks of the study. Exploitativeness. herapists were instructed to adhere as closely as possible to his modeling of the sessions. 1995) was developed as a measure of progress in individual psychotherapy. the actual number of sessions provided—six. Second Edition the homework assignments for couples. comparison couples were mailed a second set of questionnaires. seven. Raskin. Entitlement. self-management. and Vanity. Comparison Condition Subjects he comparison group couples received two packet of questionnaires. social. health. Self-suiciency. through the mail. Measures of Intrapersonal Functioning he Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI. Within a 2-week period following completion of treatment. It yields a general component score for narcissism and seven scores relecting hypothesized components of narcissism: Authority. intimacy. one for each partner. and because the researchers desired to allow the experimental therapists as much lexibility as possible. Approximately 6 weeks to 2 months later. identical to the irst set. therapists viewed a videotape of the second author (Luquet) conducting brief IRT with a couple. as previously arranged over the phone. he number of therapy sessions— between six and eight—was left to the therapists’ discretion. and work . he NPI was selected because of IRT’s focus on the assessment and amelioration of narcissistic (“symbiotic”) tendencies within romantic partners. along with self-addressed stamped envelopes for mailing the questionnaires back. Superiority.. along with written instructions for illing out the questionnaires and self-addressed stamped envelopes for returning them. Exhibitionism. 1980) is a 40-item measure of narcissism in the normal population. herapists were also asked to participate in telephone supervision with the irst two authors. Its scales center primarily on the patient’s symptoms and functioning in family. COMPASS (Howard et al. or eight—was not considered a primary concern. he telephone numbers of the senior and second authors were provided with instructions to call either if there was need for consultation regarding the questionnaires. Telephone contact was later provided as needed to any experimental therapist who requested it. (Because the entire course of short-term Imago herapy was to be given uniformly to each experimental couple. Treatment Condition Subjects Prior to the irst experimental session. he couples then received the entire course of the brief IRT. experimental couples again completed a set of questionnaires identical to those completed at premeasure.) Next.222 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.

Speisman. his measure was chosen to assess the degree to which partners. Summing across all 11 items yields a total IIM score. Due to logistical demands. Likert-type questionnaire that measures the frequency of the respondent’s use of Imago herapy practices.’s (1989) schema of 1 = self-focused relating. and afectional expression). estimates of the reliability and validity of our paper-andpencil adaptation are not yet available. 2 = role-focused relating. however. the stretching principle. and it yields scores with satisfactory psychometric properties.Appendix III: Brief Report • 223 areas. COMPASS items were derived from previously developed functioning measures and were designed to tap a broad range of domains. we devised a paper-andpencil adaptation of the original interview-format RMI. six-stage model of maturity in intimate relationships. who independently scored the responses to RMI items using White et al. Scoring of each partner’s questionnaire was made by two trained raters.. reimaging the partner as wounded (viewing one’s partner in the context of the partner’s childhood wounds). as perceived by married or cohabitating couples. he Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS. Spanier. White.71). closing of exits (strategies to avoid the partner). and 3 = individuated-connected relating. 1989) is an index based on a three-level. intentionality (behaving in ways that will achieve the desirable outcomes of safety and passion in the relationship). a style of relating that IRT espouses to facilitate. Jackson. he measure has been widely used in previous studies of marital adjustment and treatment response. role-focused. higher scores indicate more frequent practice of Imago techniques. observable. Relationship Status and Adjustment Indices he Relationship Maturity Index (RMI. Psychometric characteristics of the original interview format are satisfactory. empathy. and speciic requests for behavior changes).. Items include questions about the practices of mirroring. and individuated-connected). caring (pleasing) behaviors. and engagement in high-energy fun. along with four subscale scores (dyadic satisfaction. 1996) are satisfactory (alpha = . and Bartis. relate in an individuated-connected manner. behavior change requests (making positive. Costos. he RMI yields a score indicating each partner’s level of relationship maturity along a three-level dimension (self-focused. . and thus the couple. he DAS yields a general dyadic adjustment score composed of the sum of all of the items. COMPASS assesses both treatment outcome and concurrent assessments of treatment progress and was selected to provide documentation of the efectiveness of IRT in ameliorating symptoms of individual distress. validation. 1996) is an 11-item. Initial estimates of reliability (Hannah et al. Hannah et al. dyadic cohesion. he Imago Intentionality Measure (IIM. 1976) is a 32-item measure of the quality of one’s relationship. initially and subsequent to treatment. dyadic consensus. the expression of frustrations by appointment only (instead of spontaneously).

only two of these couples completed both the pretreatment and posttreatment questionnaires. However.22. Changes From Before to After Therapy Pre.05. On the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS). SX dropped down to 24.44).38 (see Table III. just below normal range. with about two-thirds (63%) holding a college degree. Symptoms (COMP-SX). 1977).7) rose to a posttreatment mean of 33.4 (s = 2.5 (s = 13) (t = –2. For SX. . he efect size (d) noted here is large (Cohen. he efect size here (d = . Almost all (87%) were Caucasian. according to Cohen’s (1977) postmeasure. d = 1.3) at postmeasure (t = –5. t = –4. the pretest mean was 31.3) at pretest to a mean of 2. p < .01).91). and the Mental Health Index (COMP-MHI)—a statistically signiicant change was found for WB. d = .10. on the other intrapersonal measures—the COMPASS scales of Well-being (COMP-WB). On the Imago Intentionality Measure (IIM).6 (s = 14) to 64. yielding a large efect size (d = .to posttest diferences emerged on all four relationship measures. and so pre. with 13% being in their second or later marriage. he average number of children for the group was 2. about two-thirds (60%) were in their irst marriage. d = .224 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. mean WB rose to 74 (s = 29). he 21 experimental couples had an average age of 40 years (s = 8. Most partners were well-educated. Although all 20 couples who had agreed to serve as controls received pretreatment questionnaires. Second Edition RESULTS Complete sets of pretest and posttest measures were returned by six diferent therapists for 21 experimental couples.09. Almost a quarter (24%) had completed graduate or professional school.92). Statistically signiicant pre. he efect size for change on the IIM was large.1).09. Mean WB score at pretest was 57 (s = 34).001. Scores on the Relationship Maturity Index (RMI) rose from a mean of 2. the pretest mean of 103 (s = 22) rose to 113 (s = 21) following treatment (t = –4.67) was moderate. Life Functioning (COMP-LF).0 (s = . indicating a moderate level of distress.0 (s = 20.2 (s = .8 (s = 4. he small amount of control group data prohibited statistical analysis and comparison between the experimental and control groups.7 (s = 20.25). the pretreatment mean of 29.6). he narcissism inventory showed no statistically signiicant changes from pre.07).08. p < . p < . p < .01.01) posttest diferences on the intrapersonal and relationship functioning measures were assessed using t-tests for paired samples. at postmeasure (t = –3. Scores on the Stanley Commitment Inventory (SCI) rose from a pretreatment level of 61. p < . SX showed a marginally signiicant posttest indings on the experimental couples only are reported here. d = .4).

8 (4.07 24 <. Most obvious is the brevity of the treatment: . Given this caveat.3) 2. that is.001 1. and other weaknesses in the study’s design.7) . improvement in relationship maturity went from 2. 1995).5 (13) –2.6 (26) 70.LF) 63. at best.4). several indings nonetheless deserve comment.1 (6. although changes achieved statistical signiicance and showed moderate to large efect sizes.0 (20) 2. these four measures showed statistically signiicant changes from pre.38 21 ns — 20 ns — 20 DISCUSSION Any conclusions drawn here must be considered preliminary.44 22 <. due to the small sample posttreatment. According to the developers of COMPASS (Howard et al. symptoms (measured here by SX) are expected to decrease—a phenomenon that our statistical indings modestly supported. clinical improvement should be assumed to be. the increase in dyadic adjustment was 10 points (103 to 113).08 COMPASS Symptoms (COMP-SX) 31.4 (30) .4 (26) 57. Later in therapy.7) 33. in deference to the consideration of clinical signiicance. Imago Intentionality Measure mean score rose just 3 points (29.Appendix III: Brief Report • 225 TABLE III. in the individual’s sense of general well-being.. First. in our sample. he statistically signiicant change in COMPASS Well-being (WB) conformed with expectations.6 (14) 64.6 (7) 12.78 COMPASS Mental Health Index 63.09 Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) 103 (22) 113 (21) –4. we acknowledge that these improvements are modest. the absence of control group data.22 Stanley Commitment Inventory (SCI) 61.2 (.1 Variable Pre.0) –4.01 . moderate.9 (.10 Imago Intentionality Measure (IIM) 29. relationship maturity. In other words. no statistically signiicant change took place along that dimension.92 20 <.to Posttest Changes on Intrapersonal and Relationship Measures Pretest Mean(s) Posttest Mean(s) t p d n Relationship Maturity Index (RMI) 1.01 .91 20 ns — 23 <.0 (the lowest score that qualiies as “role-focused” maturity) to 2. improvement is expected to occur irst along the dimension tapped by WB.03 COMPASS Life Functioning (COMP.8 to 33. An examination of the mean changes on the four relationship measures revealed statistically signiicant indings. Despite the small sample size. For example.05 . the expected improvement on all four relationship-related dimensions (dyadic adjustment.73 COMPASS Well-being (COMP-WB) 57 (34) 74 (29) –3. commitment.05 .6 (25) –1.4 (2.61 (COMP-MHI) <.01 .20 (well within the “role-focused” level). he last area expected to improve is Life Functioning (LF). However.09 Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) 12. and practice of Imago skills) did occur.67 21 =. yet more pertinent were the moderate to large efect sizes associated with those changes. Our modest indings could be traced to a number of features associated with the design of the study. over the course of psychotherapy.3) –5.7 (21) 24.

Caucasian. cognitive. It might be overly optimistic to expect dramatic improvement in personal distress— which could. Whether similar indings would be found on dissimilar samples awaits further empirical exploration. and through other means. after all. which included the couple’s having had no previous couples therapy in the past year and having been married for a year or more. we used a convenience sample of couples solicited through referrals to the experimental therapists’ clinical practice. Obviously. . a brief version versus the conventional 12-session version of Imago herapy) would be necessary to draw such inferences. the degree of relationship dysfunction of many couples who contacted the experimental therapists for couples therapy mitigated against the use of a brief episode of therapy. a control group. Second Edition Experimental couples were in therapy for no longer than eight sessions. At the initial assessment. and relatively mature in relationship orientation. Additional studies using varying durations of treatment (e. Indeed. stem from lifelong behavioral. through ads placed in newspapers or other publications. Characteristics of the study sample justify further caution in the interpretation of these results. it is possible that short-term Imago herapy is most appropriate for couples who are highly educated. A variety of factors seemed to contribute to this phenomenon.. we consider our indings an encouraging indication of the eicacy of short-term Imago herapy for relieving both intrapersonal and relationship distress in at least a subset of couples seeking treatment. more scrupulous screening criteria. eliminated from the experimental group many couples who would otherwise have served as subjects. Still. and attitudinal patterns—after approximately eight sessions of couples therapy. anecdotal reports from about half of the 18 therapists who initially volunteered to serve as experimenters (12 of whom eventually declined. and random sampling procedures would be necessary to draw irm conclusions. although it’s tempting to assume that more dramatic changes would be noted with longer treatment episodes.g. middle-aged couples. whether in its brief or its more protracted formats. Given the above. additional research using heterogeneous experimental couples. we have no data to support such a conclusion. due to their diiculty in soliciting experimental clients) indicated that recruiting clients for the short-term form of Imago herapy is not an easy undertaking. the couples comprising the experimental group cannot be assumed to represent the typical couple who presents for Imago herapy. Our original. Further. hese subjects were relatively well-educated. committed. through announcements in church bulletins or to employee assistance oices. well-functioning. hus. at this stage of the empirical documentation of Imago herapy outcomes. he experimental sample was neither randomly selected nor randomly assigned to the treatment condition. rather. Ethical concerns related to ofering the most eicacious treatment led a number of the volunteer therapists to decline using such a brief and structured form of treatment.226 • Short-Term Couples Therapy.

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“And it is still true.” I’m glad she did. my luck continued when Natalie Gilman decided she wanted to take up this project as editor. He has been a part of this book every step of the way and has ofered feedback that has polished the shine. hanks for always believing in this project. 231 .Ed. And when the manuscript made its way to Brunner/Mazel. and ixing all of my “theirs and there’s. Bruce Wood.” I have held hands with many people over the past 3 years who have made this work possible. My thanks also to the many Certiied Imago Relationship herapists whose work has crept into this book as they graciously made it available to all of us. she made it low and. were the window to the real world and let me know that the ideas in this book actually work in practice. wasn’t I lucky that the irst editor to get her red pen on the manuscript was Denise Baron? Denise spent many hours in my small back oice with my slow Mac Plus. for making this work a reality. Natalie. adding commas. If you have to use someone’s ideas. Maya Kollman. Her irst words to me were. best of all. She has guided me gracefully through the publishing process and helped make the book clear through her editing skills. Gary Brainert. M.. when you go out into the world.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS FROM THE FIRST EDITION he last line of Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Needed to Know. hank you. and Bob and Wendy Patterson. assisted me in training the Penn Foundation staf and encouraged me to pursue the ideas further.” In the end. let it sound like me. I Learned in Kindergarten reads. Sharon Mathews. no matter how old you are. And when I did. but are not limited to. I can think of no one better than Harville Hendrix. rearranging words I had written. hey include. he staf of Penn Foundation Employee Assistance Program in Sellersville. “I have to get to know you. Harville is more than a brilliant person. it is best to hold hands and stick together. he’s warm and encouraging too. Pennsylvania.

who started it all on a New Jersey beach. hank you. Sanam Hoon. But the person I owe the most to is my wife. Ph... my friend. hanks to Lisa Kelvin Tuttle for being a great friend and a willing reader and editor of the drafts.S. M. She forced me to look at our marriage and myself. ..S. and her encouragement that produced this book.W. I am forever grateful to her for my growth. Marianne. and was intuitive enough to ind the safest method of all. our wonderful children. our relationship that makes us conscious. Bill Brennan. Ph.D. M. Anne Carney. for her work in the writing of the research appendix. I have enjoyed holding your hand.. and for that I am grateful. hanks also to the Imago herapists who subjected themselves to the trainings that were based on the early drafts of the book and let me know that the sessions worked in their practices..W. hanks to the therapists who participated in the research project. M. and to Mo Hannah.232 • Short-Term Couples Therapy. and Mary Lemmon—have been supportive of this work from the beginning.D. Second Edition he staf of the Institute for Imago Relationship herapy—especially Walter Nirenberg. Imago Relationship herapy. and Gerry Brennan. including Sherry Baker.S.W.

233 .HOMEWORK AND HANDOUT SHEETS FOR COUPLES Photocopying Section You may photocopy all of the pages in this section for use with your couples. It is suggested that each partner be given either a set for each session or the entire packet at the beginning of therapy.



236 Session One .

Session One 237 .

238 Session One .

Session One 239 .



242 Session Two .

Session Two 243 .

244 Session Two .

Session Two 245 .

246 Session Two .

HOMEWORK/HANDOUTS Session Three 247 .

248 Session Three .

Session Three 249 .

250 Session Three .

HOMEWORK/HANDOUTS Session Four 251 .

252 Session Four .

Session Four 253 .

254 Session Four .

Session Four 255 .

256 Session Four .

HOMEWORK/HANDOUTS Session Five 257 .

258 Session Five .

Session Five 259 .

260 Session Five .

Session Five 261 .

262 Session Five .

Session Five 263 .

264 Session Five .


266 Session Six .

Session Six 267 .

268 Session Six .

Session Six 269 .


Short-Tern Couples fherapy: fhe Imago Model in Action has been used regularly by therapists interested in this effective and now well-known model of working with couples.ta~. six-session format. Distinguished Professor. Hawille Hendrix.. Very readable. . as introduced in the pioneering work of Dr. Psy. - Cwer derlgn: Elise Weinger . UK Printed in the U. Now thoroughly revised and updated. Oxon OX14 4RN. very hands-on. Ed. PA. author of The Truth About Love For more than a decade. practical. All therapists need to understand and be able to use this model.Coup/es Therapy offers a user-friendly.COUPLES & FAMILY THERAPY "Imago Therapy is a brief and effective approach to treating couples. Marianne. It's succinct.S. Ph. The text presents a unique real- ity-based approach to facilitate effective couple interaction. ABPP. Building on the precepts of the lmago Relationship Therapy Model." -Pat Love. Governors State University and author of Time for a Better Marriage "Short-Term Couples Therapy is a user-friendly guide to the powerful force of lmago Therapy. whose potential for application is immediately apparent.D. Dr. PA." -Jon Carlson. Wade Luquet..npmd9upm Routledge I I ~ e Mad~snn 270w y w kNY10016 .5A. The essence of the lmago Model is distilled into a practical. workable methodology. ". Ed.TaylorCFrands Group ahinforma bdners w. Short-Tem. the book has made available to the professional therapist the technique and rationale of this evolutionary approach to working with couples in a brief therapy context.. He maintains a private practice in North Wales. and incorporates the major advances in the practice of lmago Relationship Therapy. with his wife. M.. He is also on the academic faculty of lmago Relationships International.D. is associate professor of Sociology at Gwynedd-Mercy College in subur- ban Philadelphia. and ready t o be used. Awnue I S B N 0-U5-95380-V 1 2 Park Square.W. laid out clearly and cogently. updates the processes and theory that have proven so effective in the short-term approach t o couples therapy. This book should be required reading for students as well as practicing professionals. Luquet clearly describes the basic ingredients for successful relation- ships as well as the six basic sessions used in lmago Short-Term Therapy.D.D. Milton Park Mngdon..

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