We have advanced training opportunities in couples therapy these days, but not a lot of training in the everyday skills of conducting sessions with couples who interrupt each other, flare at each other, mind read, and emotionally bail out of sessions. Here’s an hour’s worth of practical tools.
Based on Perel’s Mating in Captivity, this bold take on intimacy and sex grapples with the obstacles and anxieties that arise when our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion. We will tackle eroticism as a quality of aliveness and vitality in relationships extending far beyond mere sexuality and consider how the need for secure attachment and closeness can co-exist with the quest for individuality and freedom.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher uses her brain scanning studies (fMRI) of people happily in love, rejected in love and in love long-term to discuss the traits of romantic love, love-at-first-sight, and addiction to love. She focuses on her current research on 40,000 men and women to propose that four broad cognitive/behavioral personality trait constellations have evolved associated with the neural systems for dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. Then she discusses her data on mate choice among 28,000 individuals to pro-pose why we are chemically drawn to one person rather than another.
To compensate for the brain’s innate negativity bias – making it like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones, which sensitizes couples to hurts and conflicts and undermines psychotherapy – we’ll explore a vital method in self-directed neuroplasticity: identifying key positive experiences and then registering them deeply in implicit memory.
Some couples seem intractable and unchangeable, and their devotion to maintaining their misery seems mysterious. We often dread their next appointment. This workshop will demystify this well- known dynamic and describe and demonstrate concepts and processes that make working with the Couple-from-Hell joyful, even desirable.
In this workshop, we will look at fantasy as an ingenious way our creative mind overcomes all sorts of relational and intra psychic conflicts around desire and intimacy. Therapists can help clients develop a view of fantasy as a narrative that creates a safe space to experience the pleasure that can invigorate their loving relation-ships. They will decipher the meaning of sexual fantasies, approaching them more as dreams or complex symbolic structures than as literal narratives of secret intentions. In recognizing the depth, complexity and healing qualities of the erotic imagination, we explore sexual fantasy as a staging ground for action and escape that turns the tables on those responsible for earlier experiences of demoralization, defeat, and even trauma.
In her lecture, Fisher discusses four biologically based styles of thinking and behaving and, using her data on mate choice among 28,000 individuals, shows why we are chemically drawn to one person rather than another. In this workshop Fisher goes deeper into these natural temperament constellations, and discusses how partners with very different (and similar) biological styles of thinking and behaving interact to create great joy, confusion and sorrow in their partnerships.
The Love Code provides a metaphor to explore the neural mechanisms underlying how and why we attach, bond, fall in love and seek out safe and trusted others in an unsafe world. This presentation will explore the body’s need for intimate engagement and social bonding from an adaptive perspective. Within the theoretical context of the Polyvagal Theory, the presentation will illustrate how specific features in our social environment may trigger neurophysiological systems, through a process of “neuroception,” that enables us either to be fearful and disengage or to feel safe and enter enduring intimate relations.