Bad things happen. We struggle. We feel pain. We need our loved one by our side. This is what Dr. Sue Johnson, Creator of Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy would call “Facing the Dragon Together”. As human beings this is one of the reasons we are wired for human connection and bonding, to get us through the tough times. As Dr. Johnson would say, “We are bonding mammals.” It is part of our survival system.
I had the opportunity to obtain some additional training with Dr. Johnson this last weekend in Austin. The focus was on Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy for Trauma Survivors. This kind of therapy focuses on adult attachment. As we are now learning, attachment and bonding is not just for children. We all need a secure base of attachment with knowing someone is there for us and will respond with helping us to face the dragons we encounter.
Dr. Johnson’s acronym: ARE is helpful in looking at the key points of attachment.
ARE YOU THERE FOR ME?
- Are you ACCESSIBLE? – Do I matter?
- Are you RESPONSIVE? – Can I depend on you?
- Are you ENGAGED?
What is NOT helpful when couples face internal or outside the relationship distress is DISCONNECTION. Isolation and withdrawal only fuels our panic and feelings of being over-whelmed. This leading to escalation of helplessness and more disconnection. This is a behavioral cycle that make matters worse.
The dance of “attunement, engagement, and responsiveness” leads us to the “safe haven” we all need. Reaching out and taking a chance and engaging in a “dance of attachment” with our partner is what we need to “face our dragons together”.
When we experience fear, we need a place of safety. We need connection and comfort to sooth our anxiety. This is what our secure attached relationship can provide.
We all have dragons to face at one time or another. Secure attachment to our partner protects us from trauma. Plus, we cannot forget the “healing power” of our relationships if we must face trauma. So take your partner’s hand and face your dragons together!
Source Material for this Blog Article: Facing the Dragon Together: EFT for Traumatized Couples. Presented by Dr. Sue Johnson. November 3-4, 2017 in Austin, TX.
Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.