Dr. Horn, you said there were some specific things about couple counseling?
Are you hanging on by a thread?
The other approach is to discuss an issue that has caused great distress within the functioning of the couple. And then to begin to explore what is behind the situation at a deeper level. We might start by asking about the feelings involved in the disagreement. Then the search begins for how that feeling may have come into being. The conflict may be based more on a struggle involving an emotional injury in the long ago past that the current issue has tripped off. Behavioral strategies are often woven in as adjuncts. But the really important changes may involve the behavior of consciously changing thinking patterns There is a lot of research into marriages, and it is suggested that there are two basic approaches. One approach stresses behavioral changes, such as planning a date night, practicing new communication skills, etc. Yes, one issue concerns what kind of approach the therapist chooses. It is true that I use many approaches, techniques and interventions depending on the need of the client at the moment. However, I think an "emotionally focused" approach is the most effective as a framework for couples counseling. Because I believe so strongly in hearing each spouse from their point of view, I am usually able to connect with men. Men deserve a high level of respect, and that respect means to me that they are listened to intently and with sincere interest in their work and what they have to say about their views. Instead, I ask them to look at me and speak to me. I am able to listen quietly and focus on their concerns and perhaps delve deeper with gentle questions or educated guesses as questions. In that way, the spouse can express him or herself quietly and as fully as possible while the other spouse listens. It "models" for the other spouse how to listen, but more than that, it allows the other spouse to hear the true meaning of their partner's emotional distress. The other way that I try to help spouses and partners feel safe enough to explore themselves in the presence of their loved one, is to stress that we must keep things balanced. When I often articulate that I must be mindful of balance, spouses graciously allow their loved one to be heard. There are many other intertwining factors a therapist considers in couples counseling. There may be sidetrips on a journey that were not expected. I have tried to touch on these factors found in other pages that you might benefit by reading. You may not be coming to see me for a child, but you were a child once!
Dr. Horn, why have you left individual counseling until the very last? Don't most people call about individual counseling?
It is often true that people call asking for counseling for themselves. But in my way of thinking, all these other "types" of counseling are a knowledge base or foundation for individual counseling. In "About Dr. Horn" you will also find that it is important to consider what you (and your loved one) bring to the table in terms of genetics. Our genetics can sometimes cause great anguish, but I have a strong belief that we can manage conditions that we did not ask for and wish that we did not have. It is never really clear at first whether the individual will go on a solo journey of self-exploration and self-growth with their chosen guide or whether they will invite others who are important in their lives to go along. We "play it by ear." Hearing differing views is demonstrated, hopefully, in many ways, but two important ways come to mind. First, I do not "allow" couples to begin their round-robins of arguing, the broken records that they play over and over at home, if this is one of the stresses they experience.
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INDIVIDUAL AND COUPLE COUNSELING
Yet, women often fear that their "charming" husband will succeed in making her look bad--that he will completely sway me and, thus, overpower my opinions with his words. I can only tell wives that, though I am soft-spoken and try to be gentle and kind, I think for myself. Many women take a wait-and-see attitude. It is often a thrilling experience when someone is able to dig down and see something that has never been put together consciously before as the other listens and hears it, too. Thrilling for all three of us. We very often then begin to set off on our journey together.
Hemmed in from all sides?
Dr. Horn says, "Yes, but I see a lot of courage and determination within you."
As I said above, we were all once children and we were adolescents, we had parents with marriages/relationships, we grew up in some sort of family, if not a traditional family, we may be in a relationship ourselves, or want a relationship, we may have lost someone with whom we had an important relationship.