approaching therapy

musings as they come, and as they evolve …


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It seems to be the most important thing in a relationship.
Communication is second, if there is such a thing as second,
because it’s wrapped up with trust.

Written by David

December 10th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Posted in couples

chain of reaction

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If one person expresses dissatisfaction for unmet needs, this can trigger the other person.
The strange thing about this is that the other person was fine until the first person opened his or her mouth!

Now the other person has unmet needs, for any of the following needs:

  • Appreciation
  • Understanding
  • Being seen as he or she is

Now both are triggered, both are experiencing a deficit in needs, no one is heard, and the reactions continue go back and forth like the proverbial ping pong match.

What to do?

Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

half the battle

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What a metaphor, “battle.” Not what I want to think of when I think of relationships, but the phrase came to my mind when I was thinking about getting from here to there.

I think that when people finally own their experience and stop the blaming, they are halfway there.

What else is there, then?
Perhaps another eighth is giving to self (empathy), and another eighth is giving to your partner (including compassion).

And then perhaps the last quarter is actually practicing some new ways of being, like communicating directly and honestly what’s going on, when it’s going on.

Written by David

June 5th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Posted in couples


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If my mind doesn’t go out to disturb the noise, the noise won’t disturb me.

– Ajahn Chah, from A Heart Full of Peace, by Joseph Goldstein

Written by David

May 26th, 2011 at 11:09 am

Posted in truth


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Paul: “I guess what I’m trying to say is that – these people come to me – they want me to fix their problems. And the truth is, I think all I can do is just – walk with them for a while, keep them company during a rough patch. I don’t think anybody’s life can be figured out. But it is in our nature to keep – to keep trying to make sense of it. And sometimes we can use help. That’s when if we’re lucky, there’s someone in the room who can – who can listen. It doesn’t have to be somebody perfect – somebody sufficiently screwed up, to actually get what we might be going through.”

– From In Treatment, Season 2: Week 7, episode with Gina

Written by David

January 4th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in truth


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Paul: “I’m sorry I let you down.
I wish I could solve all your problems, Oliver. But I just – I can’t.
But one thing I can do, is–is–is talk with you, about everything that’s going on.”

Oliver: “So what?”

Paul: “But one thing maybe it will help you feel less, alone.”

– From In Treatment, Season 2: Week 7, episode with Oliver

Written by David

January 4th, 2011 at 11:28 am

Posted in truth

attachment vs differentiation and communication skills

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Will “validation of someone else’s feelings” interfere with that other person’s spiritual growth and foster a dependent sense of self?
Will it “reinforce the problem“, as David Schnarch writes?

I do like the point behind Schnarch’s exhortation: “Stop trying to get your partner to listen to you (or validate you); listen to yourself!”

And I agree when Schnarch says we gotta learn to self-soothe and regulate our own anxiety and connect with our core.

And I agree with his suggestion that people can’t do this for each other so easily when they themselves are activated. You gotta attend to your own needs.

But my understanding of communication skills includes more than just “reciprocal validation.”
I like the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model, because it’s really about a state of consciousness, which is then reflected in the way one communicates

By consciousnesses, I mean seeing our connectedness to each other, understanding and connecting with each others’ needs, and the compassion and the desire to contribute to others’ well-being that naturally arises from that perception. Communication techniques can also increase the chance the we will get our needs met — not a bad thing, eh? NVC is also very much about empathy, not only for others but for ourselves, which I see as a form of taking care of yourself.

The NVC model looks at underlying needs. Honoring them and finding ways to meet everyone’s needs. Schnarch’s model seems to be about learning to stand on our own two feet, but I also wonder if his gives a nod to the notion that with respect to some needs, we may be interdependent?

Do we need others to help us meet our needs for appreciation? for love? for companionship?

Is it’s like what Thich Nhat Hanh supposedly said: “Love is available; help yourself !” ??

Written by David

October 12th, 2010 at 10:36 am

Posted in couples

once a week

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Some therapists insist that folks come once a week.
Good reasons, too.
To keep momentum.
To stay involved and effective.

But I’m for whatever works.

But I’m noticing that sometimes if people don’t come once a week, then progress isn’t made.
It’s more about fire extinguishing.

If a couple can’t make it once a week because they are too busy, then that might be a part of the problem — or challenge.

They are too busy to nurture their relationship?
And yet they are hoping that things will change someday, somehow.

Yes, things will change, no matter what you do.
But they might not change in the way you might be hoping.
I think it really helps to water the relationship.

Written by David

October 11th, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Posted in couples

4 questions 1 decision

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Casey Truffo got these questions from Andrea Lee.
Below, I’m quoting Casey verbatim, who is partly quoting Andrea, but I changed one word. From business to relationship.

1. What is it you want for your relationship?

2. What is important to you?

3. What might you let stop you?

4. How can you prevent that from happening?

How do you break through a current obstacle that’s keeping you from where you want to be or even who you want to be.

Andrea Lee says,
A breakthrough is not a process, but a decision.
A decision to not stop yourself.
A decision to go for it.

Are you ready to be done with what is stopping you?

Written by David

October 11th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Posted in couples,individuals

be nice

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When a couple left the other night, I asked them to please
“be compassionate towards each other; be nice to each other.”

Written by David

October 11th, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Posted in couples