At The Finding Place Counseling, several of our therapists are licensed marriage and family therapists (MFTs) who are specially trained to see how family systems affect conflict in relationships. And while we hear hundreds of unique and individual stories from the couples we see, there are really just two reasons couples seek out marriage counseling.
First, your day-to-day interactions are declining. The conflicts or annoyances in your relationship are becoming more intense, more frequent, or are lasting longer. Whether the disagreement is over your kids, in-laws, work, time, or money, you intuitively know that if you don’t do something, it will only get worse.
Secondly, you come to marriage counseling because something happened to affect trust in your relationship. This could be infidelity, secret keeping, or betrayal of another kind, but it often leads to “I don’t trust you. I can’t trust you. I’ll never trust you.”
Think back to your childhood for a moment. What did your parents model for you in the midst of conflict? Did you experience anger? Meanness? While those negative experiences do not define you in the present day, they may inform how you relate to yourself and others when you’re in distress.
In distress, you get reduced to survival mode. You get tunnel vision, the blood rushes to your face, and your body prepares for war. And because of what are called mirror neurons, your spouse senses they need to prepare for war as well and gets ready to defend themself.
You want a healthy marriage, so how do you navigate the chaos of your distress, reconnect the disconnect, and find redemption, resolution, and reconciliation?
At The Finding Place Counseling, marriage therapist Bill Carpenter likes to say, “You can’t fix what you can’t see. You can’t change what you don’t understand–meaning, what’s really happening in your heart, your soul, and your personhood. And the relationship can’t change if you can’t talk about what is really happening in a safer way.”
Many of our marriage therapists apply the principles of emotionally focused therapy (EFT) to help couples unpack their distress and find new and better ways to relate to each other. There are three stages to EFT:
Stage One is Cycle Deescalation where you identify concerns and negative patterns of interaction. Your EFT therapist then helps you begin to access your underlying fears and emotions.
Stage Two is Changing Interaction Patterns. During this stage, you have the opportunity to work together to change the very DNA of your relationship. You learn to access and express your attachment needs and deeper emotions as well as accept your partner’s needs and emotions with compassion.
Stage Three is Consolidation and Integration. Here, you learn to use new ways to talk about old problems and develop new solutions together to resolve and avoid future stressors.
Why is EFT so effective? As you learn to communicate in a safer way, you begin to relax, and it becomes easier to take a risk with your heart. As your spouse recognizes and honors the risks you’re both taking, trust begins to grow. As trust grows, you and your spouse can take more risks, and a better, more positive cycle can emerge. There will be setbacks along the way, but with time, you will be able to successfully navigate the minefield of marriage.
At The Finding Place, we offer weekly and bi-weekly marriage counseling as well as 3-day intensives that incorporate EFT and other modalities like Brainspotting. For marriages in high distress–your marriage is a car that just hit a wall at 100 miles per hour, the destruction is massive, and you need an ambulance NOW–intensives are the better choice. Intensives allow you to get resolution quicker because there’s no time between hourly sessions for things to become worse.
And though the work is hard and often involves pain, shame, vulnerability, and emotional exhaustion, with the help of an imminently qualified therapist with years of experience, there’s also tremendous hope. Let us help you get to the other side.
The Finding Place Counseling and Recovery is located in Little Rock, Arkansas. We specialize in marriage counseling (including both secular and Christian marriage counseling), teen counseling, and treating trauma and PTSD using Brainspotting and EMDR. Contact us to schedule a session or book an intensive.