Reply To: QUESTION FOR PONDER – for week 3 on Evolutionary Journey

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Interventions I might use will depend on the couple, whether I am in the beginning stages, working stages or later on and the degree of reactivity that is being expressed. I might:
– Do a centering or grounding exercise. Remind them to breathe.
– Put anger (if that is the reactivity) in a container to be explored when the time is right. Can be done via visualization.
– Interrupt the escalation, set boundaries.
– Assess for flooding. Take a time-out if needed. Provide psycho-education on flooding.
– Explore root of reactivity. What’s really going on? “We are never angry for the reason we think.”
– Acknowledge and validate feelings and re-direct.
– Allow some time for venting (minimal).
– Re-visit their goals of couple counselling.

What I have taken away from the course to help modulate reactivity:
• Using The Appreciation Dialogue.
• Using The Full Dialogue (Mirror, Validate, Empathy).
• Provide couples with some psychoeducation around the evolutionary process, brain, neuropathways etc. Educate them on hailstones/turtle i.e. natural adaptation to pain which reinforces pathways in order to survive. Helping them to understand that their reactivity is hard-wired and comes from early experiences/attachments. Reminding them that this is a process and will take time to shift automatic reactions but gives them hope when they learn that the brain has plasticity and that the brain and their reactivity can eventually change.
• Invite/teach couples to become curious about what is fueling the reactivity.