Steps 1 & 2: Assessment, Alliance building and Tracking Cycles are the focus of the first Core Skills weekend. In addition to practicing the essential skills of reflection, validation and reframing that help couples feel safe enough to begin to share and explore their distress, we’ll study and practice the process of getting under surface content to help couples understand their interactional cycles. The learning goals of this session are for you to have strong alliance building skills and proficiency in tracking your couples’ cycle – including complex withdraw/withdraw patterns – in order to help them begin to de-escalate conflict.
Session 2 addresses steps 3 & 4: the De-escalation process and placing conflict and distance in a clear attachment frame - accessing and expanding the longing for connection and the emotional vulnerability that have typically fueled cycles of conflict and distance. Key in this weekend are learning to recognize and develop the leading edge of painful emotions to help couples appreciate how vulnerability feeds negative cycles and to see their pattern as an attempt to deal with disconnection. Learning goals are 1) to recognize entry points for primary emotions, evoke and heighten them and place those vivid emotions in the context of the cycle, 2) to develop strong skills in placing interactions, emotions and conflict in lucid attachment language and 3) proficiency in setting up and processing stage 1 enactments.
CS session 3 focuses on the Withdrawer Re-engagement process of steps 5, 6 & 7. The emphasis here is on heightening and expanding attachment emotions core to Withdrawers’ experience and creating the powerful enactments that key to the Withdrawer becoming fully accessible , responsive and engaged – both with partner and self . This is the first of the two transformational stage 2 change events and paves the way for later pursuer softening. Learning goals include 1) heightening emotion in-the-moment with the use of strong therapist presence and vivid language, 2) creating and processing of powerful enactments with both partners, and 3) facilitating the Withdrawer’s clear expression of attachment needs.
The final weekend of Core Skills focuses on the Pursuer Softening process, the culmination of Stage 2 and the lead-in to Stage 3. Once again, we’ll be working on steps 5, 6 & 7 as we address the heightening and expanding of emotion to orchestrate the vivid enactments that culminate in the Pursuer’s ‘softening reach’ and the re-engaged Withdrawer’s accepting and supportive response. We then wrap up with an overview of Stage 3, the consolidation and integration phase, when couples are supported to find new solutions to more pragmatic concerns and begin to create new narratives characterized by experiences of increased trust, security and engagement.