I liked how the overviewed approaches such as cognitive, solutions focused behavioural, learning theory etc.might be smoothly integrated into a structured and active way of working with couples. This led me to thinking on an overall theme of integration, at different levels, given that current neuroscience indicates that the process of integration is based on integration of mind, body and social, ( i.e. neuro-biology and psychology of experience,and re-experience - conscious and unconscious, attachment theories and the framework of social context and connections ). Despite the limitations of our sessions with couples being such a small snapshot in time, place and versions of reality, this is an exciting time to have access to much recent information on brain science and the implications for working with clients in a way which can incorporate this. Any integration obviously needs a social context, and relecting here on mirror neurons, the reminder about focused attention resonated with me in being a pre-requisite for being able to listen and hear our clients in a meaningful way.
I find Gottman’s thinking of the relationships as a “unit”can be expanding for couples when stuck in the negative interaction cycle, and as I have just discovered Stan Tatkin, I have been thinking along the lines of how exploring each person’s attachment style can be a psycho-educational opportunity which can then flow on into their building a mutually safe, secure “bubble” unit. Tatkin’s ways of each partner helping the other to manage affect as well as their own also fits nicely with Gottmans antidotes to the 4 horseman. I find couples often find reassurance in Gottman’s finding that most major differences do not get resolved over time, but rather can be managed differently. The relationship emerges as the focus also in the reading provided on IBCT in terms of mindfulness and acceptance. The recommended reading has pointed to the fostering of emotional acceptance as the springboard for couples’ attunement in various ways. What I’m reading and interpreting is not so much about treating partners as you would like to be treated, but more treating them as they need to be treated by understanding behaviour in terms of their individual experience and vulnerabilities- what Gottman refers to as “enduring qualities”- which he finds are about 30% of what each bring to the relationship. Not least is acceptance of one’s own negative reactions /emotions as a means to accepting those of the partner. (Christensen) This emotional acceptance also incorporates behavioural, cognitive and other change, so back to integration . . . . . .