There are several different theories and modalities in couple's and marriage therapy. For instance, Cognitive-Behavioral Couple's Therapy focuses on the thoughts and beliefs of each partner (their expectations of the relationship, and their interpretation of their partner's behaviors) and how those thoughts manifest into behaviors in the relationship. The goal is to reduce conflict and build better ways of communicating. There is also Solution Focused Therapy, which focuses entirely on small steps that can be taken to move the relationship from highly conflicted to the relationship that each partner desires. There are many different types of therapy, which is beneficial because of the range of different personalities and couples that can benefit from theories that match their personality. A form of therapy that has been found to be extremely helpful to couples is Emotion Focused Couple's Therapy.
Emotion Focused Couple's Therapy
Over the past fifteen years Emotion Focused Couple's Therapy has gained strong research and backing in the counseling community, and it is this method that we primarily utilize at Resolve Counseling in Prairie Village, KS. The goal of this method is to not only reduce the conflict in the relationship, but to increase the connection between partners. The theory was originally developed off of Attachment Theory, which was designed to study the attachment of children to their parents. What was found is that attachment is an important part of our lives throughout adulthood as well, and that there are different styles of attachment that can help or hinder relationships.
Emotion Focused Couple's Therapy is a process where the therapist identifies the pattern of the couple's conflict, de-escalates the conflict, identifies the true emotions (which can be masked by other emotions or behaviors), re-frames the problem in term of those true emotions and needs which can now be more effectively communicated, and restructures the couple's bond with these more honest interactions. Through this process, you move out of old patterns of conflict and into new, more effective ways of emotionally connecting to your partner. This is a short term process, typically lasting 12 to 20 sessions, and has been found to not only be effective in the short term, but also shows less likelihood of relapse into old patterns and conflict.
The reason this form of counseling is effective for couple's is that it not only addresses the thinking and behavior of the couple, but how to interact during the highly emotional times. It is easy to talk about how to improve the relationship during calm times, but once a fight starts our emotions take over and we rarely are thinking clearly enough to follow through with those statements. Emotion Focused Therapy is an experiential form of counseling, meaning the goal is to bring up the emotions and experience them in the counseling office, and then work through new ways of interacting in those emotions with the help of the counselor. This helps both practice new ways of being in conflict, but also solidifies those changes because they happened in the emotional states rather than calm ones.
James McMillian, MA, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS 66206
Every 29.53 days a full moon makes its appearance in the sky. What many teachers, mental health professionals, ER doctors and others will argue is that this phenomenon makes people “crazier”. After all, “lunacy” means insanity and comes from the word “lunar” meaning moon. After many years of studies and research, the results show that not a lot of evidence can back this so-called “finding”. Studies have shown that kids’ activity level and sleep levels are almost identical to those during the rest of the month.
So what is making our kids have more behavioral issues in school? What is making it more difficult for them to focus? What is inhibiting their ability to effectively problem-solve, self-regulate and emotionally develop? What is decreasing their sleep and decreasing their chances to be creative and exploratory? The answer may surprise you.
Children as early as 10 months are learning how to get on phones, swipe iPads, and are watching their parents only communicate to the device in front of them and not to each other. The impact? Detrimental to not only people’s relationships and means of communication and developing intimacy with one another, but with the children who are watching them.
Unfortunately, Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is getting a bad rep. Children are expected to sit still when their very beings need to move in order to learn. In fact, teachers and parents and even some mental health professionals are quick to diagnose children with “behavioral problems”, who can’t “focus”, “sit still” or behave appropriately in classrooms with ADHD. What’s even more disturbing is that children are being medicated for these reasons when often times, behavioral management techniques and a disconnect from a bright device in front of their face would do just as good.
I would bet that 65% of those assumed to have ADHD really do not. A child is assumed to be too hyper or inattentive when they can’t sit still in a classroom for 6 hours or when they act out instead of using their words consistently. Yes, many children will develop ADHD. Yes, it is a real diagnosis with real symptoms. No, not every child who cannot focus and wants to run around a classroom have it.
Children’s developing sensory, motor, and attachment systems are not equipped to handle the messy, chaotic, and loud environment that technology brings. Since the increase in today’s technology, more children have been diagnosed with behavioral, psychological and developmental disorders.
A recent article in the Huffington Post called “The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child” suggests that children need 4 main things to achieve healthy child development, including the following:
Children need to move. In fact, children learn more about their world and how to navigate it through movement. They learn how to problem-solve; they are releasing the naturally produced endorphins in their bodies in healthy, constructive ways. The endorphins that their bodies automatically produce have to be released in some way. If it’s not through movement, it will often be released through what adults describe as “behavior problems” and in social settings where the behaviors may not be deemed as normal.
Exercise, running, riding bikes, going on walks, playing sports, or playing hide-and-seek are all great ways children can release endorphins.
One of the most rewarding ways for children to learn how the world works is through touch. If you’ve ever had a kid in a store, you know they want to touch everything. They want to feel it. They want to experience it through their hands because they’ve never felt like it before. Touch teaches children how to experience the world with their hands. And no, this doesn’t mean through the screen of an electronic device. Touch allows them to feel water, which can be a natural soothing technique to calm down. Touch allows children to learn about the world- what could be safe and unsafe. Touch allows them to connect with things if they don’t quite have the words to verbalize how they feel.
3. Human Connection
Technology diminishes human connection. How many times have you seen a child trying to get their mom or dad’s attention while they were on their phone? The parent yells, says their name, pulls on their shirt, all while the parent is heads down swiping, texting, or mindlessly checking their email. They are not connected to their child’s miscues or cues which is imperative to know for a secure attachment.
Attachment is a term that I use frequently in my work in play therapy. It relates to how well the child is connected to the primary caregiver and how much he or she trusts that person. This is how the child learns if the world is safe and if they can rely on others to get their needs met or if they have to solely rely on themselves. For example, if an infant cries because it has a wet diaper, and the caregiver picks up the baby and changes the diaper, this is considered a cue that was accurately perceived. If the caregiver was hungry and got its diaper change instead, this would have been a miscue. If enough miscues happen, if a child lays in its crib for hours without being stimulated or having an adult meet their needs, then it is likely the child begins to form an insecure attachment, which means the child may be extra clingy, ambivalent toward the caregiver (as in the child doesn’t care if the caregiver is there or not) or avoidant where the child avoids interaction with the caregiver.
These types of attachments can be formed from many different types of interactions, especially with those of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, the neglect of children’s needs is becoming more and more common due to the growing market and addiction to be connected to an electronic device by the parent.
4. Exposure to Nature
I remember being a child and and being covered in dirt, playing in the creek
behind our house picking out Indian beads from the rocks. I learned to create. I learned to imagine. I learned to believe in a world beyond the 700 person town I lived in and created a world of my own. I played tigers and lions in the middle of our living room with my brothers, pretending that I lived in an animal kingdom fighting for my life.
I didn’t have an iPad. I didn’t have a tablet. I didn’t have a phone to distract myself with. I didn’t even have a computer. I went outside. I played baseball with my brothers.
The benefits of nature in a child’s life is increase in creativity, in play and imagination, instills a sense of peace and oneness with the natural surroundings and naturally decreases anxiety. It gives children the chance to be innovative in solving problems and improving self-regulation skills so that they can learn how to regulate without a bright screen put in front of their face to keep quiet for a mere 5 minutes.
Trust me, I get it. As parents, you need a moment of silence, a break, and a second to breathe and take care of yourselves; however, there are many ways to do this without subjecting your child to increased stimulation and hormone levels through the means of a bright screen.
Technology has its benefits, I understand this. It stimulates the mind and it increases learning to an extent, for adults. This article isn’t to make you feel bad, but just to bring awareness to what technology can really do to the developing child. If you need other ways to connect with your child or keep them occupied, or if you find that taking away the iPad no longer is an effective discipline technique, please contact Robin at 785.408.PLAY or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your options. Robin will be conducting a Parenting Workshop beginning February 7 from 5:30-7:00pm, for the next 6 Tuesdays thereafter to learn effective ways to bond with your child, effective discipline techniques, and hands-on approaches to get your toddler, adolescent, or pre-teen to listen to you.
Contact us today!
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Resolve - Counseling and Wellness
Prairie Village, KS
As a marriage counselor, I often see one partner who is seeking out marriage counseling while the other is apprehensive or unwilling to attend counseling sessions. This can lead the engaged partner to feel frustrated and helpless to fix the relationship, eventually leading to a possible feeling of hopelessness that things will never get any better. Questions like, do they still love me, why don't they want to talk, and should I stay with someone who isn't willing to seek help are all common concerns. While the best situation for couples counseling would be to involve both partners, there are ways to create meaningful changes and to find more happiness within the relationship by seeing a counselor individually.
Does not going to couples counseling mean they don't love me?
There are many reasons your partner might choose not to attend marriage counseling. They might worry that counseling will start arguments and make things worse, feeling that the status quo is better than what could come out. They might think that they will be teamed up against by the counselor and partner, or that they will be blamed for all of the issues in the marriage. They might just not feel comfortable sharing their problems, thoughts, and feelings with someone they don't know. So their decision to not attend counseling doesn't in itself mean that they aren't committed to the relationship. As you are talking with your partner about marriage counseling you can anticipate some of these concerns and speak with them about it. You can say that counselors aren't there to place blame. You can say that it is better to get concerns out in the open and that the status quo isn't satisfactory.
How can marriage counseling help if it's only me attending sessions?
If either partner in a relationship makes changes, then the dynamics of the relationship will also change. Going to counseling as an individual to work on your relationship can help you to better handle conflict, communicate, empathize, set boundaries, and find happiness within a struggling relationship. As you change how you are in the relationship the dynamics of the relationship might also change. You might find things about yourself or your past that you didn't know were impacting the relationship. You might also work to find and build strength to be more vocal and engaged in the relationship. Working individually on the relationship does not mean that you or your therapist think the problems are all your fault. It is just acknowledging that relationships are built by two partners, and can be changed by one or both partners. Also, as your partner sees you attending counseling they might become more inclined to join in the future.
I don't even know if I want to stay in this marriage
It is common during high conflict times of marriage to question if you want to keep fighting or if your relationship is past any hope of recovery. If you find yourself with these questions swirling around your head it can build into severe anxiety and depression. Your counselor can help you clarify these questions in your mind, explore your fears and hopes for the relationship, and build strategies to address your concerns rather than allowing them to pull you into depressed and anxious states.
James McMillian, MA, LCPC, NCC
Couples Therapy in Prairie Village, KS