As I created my “list of gratitudes” this past Thanksgiving I was reminded of how grateful I am for the gift of this work and the amazing people I have the privilege of walking alongside. I wanted to share a unique experience I had this fall with all of you.
It was the week before our Hold Me Tight™ Workshop in Seattle and my colleague and co-presenter Joseph Losi and I received an email from one of our participants telling us she was planning to ask for a divorce during the workshop. We called each other right away to discuss how best to handle this.
We conferred. We disagreed. We talked some more. We shared our fears and concerns with one another. We “worked our EFT process”, playing out all the possible scenarios and sharing our concerns and needs with each other as it related to this situation.
Of course, we’ve had couples before who were teetering on the edge of divorce. In fact 3 –days before our first workshop a couple called to cancel because they had decided to split up. A day later they phoned to say they would try this “one more thing.” Naturally this made us nervous, but happily they went home with a new understanding of each other and a roadmap for how to heal their broken relationship. And we went home with newfound confidence and gratitude for the Hold Me Tight™ process!
But it doesn’t always end on a happy note. We have had a few couples that couldn’t break through the pain and cycle, and this caused disappointment all around.
Before the workshop, we always send out questionnaires to screen for potential problems. We have a statement on our website that clearly states that this workshop is not a substitute for couples therapy and is not appropriate for couples in crisis or dealing with alcohol/drug or physical abuse.
And yet, we have found, you can’t always screen for who comes in the door. And often the couples we were most worried about make the most progress.
However, we knew we had a responsibility to the others in the group and it was a dilemma. We were worried about this couple and we were worried about their impact on the group dynamics.
We decided to write an email outlining the reasons we didn’t believe this was the best forum for them at this moment in their relationship, and offered to fully refund their fee as well as to help them find an EFT therapist. Thankfully the woman wrote back grateful for our thoughtful response and letting us know they planned to come to Seattle anyway as airline tickets and hotels were already purchased.
She asked if we could refer them to a good couples therapist for Friday. I had planned to take the day off for some self-care before the workshop, but something in me couldn’t let it go- and I decided to offer them an afternoon intensive on Friday.
As I began to outline our theory of attachment- explain the demon dialogues and underlying attachment needs, and the ways that couples often get stuck- a new understanding began to emerge for both of them.
They began to see themselves in the demon dialogue of attack and defend: they could see how she over-functioned from anxiety and he under-functioned and pulled away to protect himself from failure. They uncovered an attachment wound that happened on their honeymoon and were able to re-process what that had been like for both of them.
When the 4-hour intensive was over she told me she had a funny question to ask me. I knew what it was. Could they still attend the workshop?
Of course- they had de-escalated and they were fully prepared to begin the work of repair and join the group.
As the weekend progressed, I watched them move closer and risk with one another, hold hands and cry, and I knew they were on the way to a new relationship — one based on secure attachment and authentic connection.
We all risked a lot in this encounter. We reached for each other, and there was a solid evidenced-based and scientifically proven process of Emotion Focused Therapy to repair what was broken. I am so grateful for this work, grateful for this process, and those who developed it as well as my colleague Joseph, who shares it with me and those we serve.
And I am grateful to all of you who do this work in the world – it is important and life-changing!
And for that I am grateful!