Mental Health Awareness Month, receiving special recognition during May, seems the opportune time to talk about how Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) not only improves client relationships, but benefits the therapist as well. My own personal story has been a career and transforming experience, and I would like to share it here, in hopes of inspiring/encouraging others.
THERAPY, RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGES, TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS
Scientific discoveries over the last twenty years have changed our lives and made them safer and happier. We no longer use telephones with wires attached to the wall. We drive cars with airbags and GPS to help us find our way. There are cures for many illnesses that killed people back then. But when it comes to psychology we are still in the Dark Ages! Most people believe the only remedies that work are talk and medication.
As I was standing in line waiting, a man was standing nearby. He was talking to his wife on the phone trying to figure out her order. His voice was loud, back and forth the conversation went, he trying to get her order correct and growing more frustrated and condescending with each interchange of the conversation. The conversation dragged on for what seemed like hours to me. The tone of his voice sent me into major anxiety and I wanted to run out of the store. It took all the strength I could muster to wait for my order to be completed.
When I first went to a psychotherapist for “talk therapy,” many years ago, I often left the session in great emotional pain. We would open up subjects that were difficult to face, and when the hour was up, I had to leave, no matter where we were. Sometimes I could barely see as I drove home, because of the tears pouring from my eyes. I often asked myself, “How am I going to get through the week until my next appointment?”
Some people think that going to a therapist is like going to a car mechanic. They expect the therapist to diagnose a specific problem and fix it just as the mechanic puts in new brake pads or readjusts the carburetor. These clients expect something to happen to them. That is not the case. Don’t expect your therapist to have all the answers. Therapists don’t come with crystal balls.
Unfortunately, the idea of using a professional to help encourage communication and deal with issues between two individuals in a relationship is frightening to some. However, it can be a great tool that — regardless of stigma and stereotype — is even for healthy, balanced couples.
If you are asking yourself, "Is he cheating?" you probably sense something is off in your relationship. Learning to trust yourself and instincts is the key to your self-esteem. Too often women doubt themselves in favor of accepting a cheater's lies. But "Is he cheating?" is a brave question to ask. It means you are trusting your own instincts instead of the lies he's offering.
"Don't talk to single people at parties." "Mention within the first five minutes of a conversation that you have a partner." "Don't notice other attractive people when you're with me." Do you have rules for your partner? When one half of a couple makes rules for the couple, look out! Parents make rules for children, so the person who's making the rules has cast him or herself as the parent and the partner as the child. Why would either partner find this satisfying?
Do you find yourself very often inexplicably drawn to a project guy – a guy with some serious personal problems, emotional, financial, or physical, that you think you can help? Maybe it's the guy that just can't seem to hold a job, or the guy who drinks too much or has drug dependencies. The end result is that you typically find yourself in a relationship where you are caretaking for a partner, and feeling responsible for his wellbeing in one or more areas of his life. You may even be enabling his dependencies without even realizing it.
The controversy surrounding whether or not a person suffers from a sexual addiction will continue for a long time. The inclusion of hypersexual disorder in the DSM-5 will not diagnose everyone with a sexual problem, as many fear, but it will give legitimacy to the problem and allow people to get help.
A new study published by Christine Milrod and co-author Ronald Weitzer analyzes 2,442 postings written by people who pay for sex on an online discussion board that reviews sex providers and their services. Approximately one-third of the posts discussed emotional intimacy between sex workers and their clients.
Hope Springs is a great jumping off point to discuss relationships. I agree with most everything that has been written about the movie. From my perspective as a Mental Health Counselor, there are a few things that I would like to add which gives more depth and authenticity to couples counseling. I want to point out this is not an evaluation of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones acting abilities. They did a fabulous job conveying the vulnerability and complexity of the relationship between Kay and Arnold.