To My Dearest Readers,
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince
This week, I was honored to officiate the marriage of a couple whom I have worked with in my therapy practice. I helped a couple in the midst of a breakdown move to a breakthrough. I sat with a couple who dealt with a relapse after years of sobriety, and I held space for a couple who decided to transform their decades long marriage from a romantic pair bond relationship to one of co-parenting and friendship after a long process of therapy. It was not an easy week, and yet, so deep in my heart, I feel the call, the vision, the hope of connection. (Sometimes my clients say I am a hope junky.)
I would not have been able to do all this amazing work that has me feeling so honored, without coming across the work of Dr. Sue Johnson, and becoming an Emotionally Focused Therapist. Those of you who know my work as a Marriage and Family Therapist, know that when I met Dr. Sue Johnson more than 10 years ago, my professional life changed direction. And honestly, so did my own life. You can not fully separate your life as a psychotherapist from your life as a partner, a mother, a friend, and a community member. With this in mind, it’s up to therapists to walk the talk.
At the time, I was already a seasoned psychotherapist using a mix of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, EMDR, and quite a few others. However, when it came to couples therapy though, I felt that much more was possible. Couples therapy felt complex, it didn’t play by the same rules, and at times I felt lost.
When I met Dr. Sue Johnson at the Psychotherapy NetWorker professional conferences, I knew I had found an answer to my search about how to be more effective in couples therapy. Following her around the conference and listening to every presentations I could, I felt that for the first time I understood what was behind relationship and how to break the code of what was happening in my therapy office. What Sue calls Cracking the Code of Love became clear in how couples in my therapy practice were going through the dance of relationships, protesting, fighting, longing to be heard, seen, and loved.
After more than a decade of training with Sue Johnson and many others in the field of emotionally focused therapy and attachment therapy, the path to healing for couples feels clear to me.
In her recent blog, A meditation on vulnerability, survival, and comfort when there is no escape, Sue shares her deep vulnerability around her recent medical emergency, and the possibility of loosing her eye sight. Today is her surgery and I am finding myself in gratitude, meditation and prayer, for her recovery and well being. I admire her vulnerability, transparency about her fears, her walk with darkness, and her recognition of the need we all have for connection.
Sue, you have thought me to see my couples, to understand how they get caught in their negative cycle, in their perpetual dance. You have helped so many couples to see each other, to see the panic behind the fight, and to translate their partner’s anger and frustration into the fear of disconnection and the longing to connect.
In her blog, Sue’s shares that although there are many forms of meditation, coping, and other survival skills to deal with trauma, illness, shocks, and loss, the deepest sense and help in times of needs is the loving touch of another.
For me, as an attachment theorist and researcher, all these threads tie into and reflect the most basic biological survival code of all: being with another who is present and loving. To be rocked in the arms of a loved one, to feel a loving hand on your face, to hear a soft voice telling you that you are precious and are not alone. This is what our nervous system longs for; This takes us beyond fear and loss. And maybe this is what poets meant when they’ve said, ‘Love is not everything. It’s the ONLY thing.’
Walking the walk, and not just talking the talk, has at times been a challenge for me as a therapist. Over the years, I’ve heard myself saying things to my kids, partners, or friends, when I hear the voice in my head saying , “did you hear that?” As in, “what if my clients heard me?” In my work, I do not try to be perfect, but I strive as hard as I can to be authentic and real.
It is simpler to know and teach this work. It is when you are seeing yourself get caught in the negative cycle and the dance of fight-flight-blame-shame-shutdown-repeat, that true transformation of oneself as a therapist happens. When you’re really ‘becoming’, and ‘walking your talk’.
When in her blog, Sue Johnson shares the intimacy of her fear in this hard and scary moment and what it is to walk the walk in darkness, we understand how the true sense of intimacy is INTO ME I SEE – INTO ME YOU SEE.
To all of you, my readers, I am sorry for not writing my blog in the consistency I am committed to. We have all had a hard and surreal year, a time no one could have ever predicted, a journey without a map.
Our HOLD ME TIGHT® WORKSHOPS will be resuming soon. I will let you all know ASAP once we know dates, location, and protocol.
I send you much love,