In working with couples, my goal is to teach the language of the heart. Teaching about loving language, is more than just the words; the nonverbal communication can cause dissonance or resonance in a relationship. Tone of voice, facial expression, and posturing are some of the pieces of communication. My work with Somatic Experiencing is being offered in the realm of couples counseling. Accessing inner awareness, sensations, emotions, thoughts, and associations will deepen this work together in the office. The richness of learning the language of the heart creates more emotional intimacy.
Rather than rehashing old arguments, I bring work with the present activity in the session. The dialogue between the couple is the richest data for reflecting stuck patterns. If there have been triggers in the communication, going back to the story can be useful for insight. Usually couples who come in for therapy have understood and discussed their triggers with each other endlessly. The next step is recognizing the repeated stuck dialogues, which demonize the other partner. From there, the work is to reroute the reactions, working at a nervous system level.
Exploring the emotional connection is the start of rebuilding safety between a couple. If a couple is seeking therapy, there has been interference in the emotional connection. Sexual dysfunction is often a result of a lack of bonding. The opposite is possible, in which the sex is hot and the rest of the relationship is stagnant. Either way, there has been some problem with trust and intimacy.
When sitting with a couple, I, the therapist becomes emotionally connected to each partner, providing a sounding board. When the emotional intimacy has been compromised, an effective couple’s therapist will engage, respond, and voice what feelings may be buried behind defensive words/postures. Engaging the couple involves responsiveness in tone, body language, and content. Sometimes mirroring what the therapist witnesses between two partners can help break silences that have evolved over time.
By having each member of the partnership slow down and learn to track their Nervous Systems, there is room for pausing and creating new responses to one another. The goal is to find the love connection, activate the hearts, make eye contact in the actual session. The resonance becomes stronger and it is a felt senses of connection that we build on in the therapy.