|ROSEN COUPLES COUNSELLING|
ROSEN COUPLES COUNSELLING
Vitali Rosen is a Registered Psychotherapist, a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, a Clinical Fellow and an Approved Clinical Supervisor with the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He is experienced in Emotion-Focused Therapy for Couples (EFT for couples), Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Couples (CBT for couples) and Solution-Focused Therapy for Couples (SFT for couples).
He is the author and producer of the video series Advanced Communication Skills for Couples.
Vitali Rosen has extensive experience in working with couples of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations.
Here is an excerpt from his written work Relationship Tools for Couples:
I am not a handyman. I cannot change a lock without scraping the door. I cannot fix a leaky toilet bowl properly. I have tried! It either still leaks or you need to hold the handle for a minute to flush. Why? I would like to believe it is because I never invested time and energy into learning how to be handy. My wife disagrees with that. She thinks I am beyond repair in that department. I claim that I chose to invest that time and energy into developing other tools – the tools to build, maintain and, if necessary, fix a relationship. I dedicated my life to this. I have been studying research on couples, lecturing on couples therapy, training students and interns in counselling couples, and of course seeing couples who need help. I have been applying everything I learned to my own relationship. Being practical by nature, I eliminated the tools that did not really work and kept and honed the ones that produced results both for me and for the couples I work with.
Having read the famous, successful literature for couples that is available on the market I wondered “There are so many good tools being offered. There is so much available. Why don’t people use these tools?” Some folks do use them, of course but not nearly enough. I refused to chuck it up to people’s laziness or not being ready to put in an effort into their relationship. I have done a great deal of thinking about it. What I realized was that there is nothing wrong with neither the tools nor the people those tools are offered to. The problem I found was that the right tools for a specific job are being promoted as universal tools to fix all issues in relationships. Think of a drill. Is it an important tool for a handyperson to have? You bet it is. Imagine though that you are starting to learn about being a handyperson and you read something like “Here is the drill. If you learn how to use it, you will have no problem fixing anything you need to fix. Practice the use of the drill. It works!” I will tell you what would happen. You will invest some energy into getting the drill and learning how to use it. The problem is that if the drill is the only tool you have in your hands then everything starts looking like a hole needing to be drilled! What if you needed pliers? You would try to apply the drill, of course, because that is the tool you have and know how to use. What if you needed a level? I am afraid to ask what would happen if you needed a hammer!
My point is that you need to understand what needs to be fixed. Then you need to ask yourself, which tool do I need to apply to this particular situation? Then, and only then, do you apply that tool. Most of you already have some relationship tools behind your belt. The problem is that the tools are not well organized and you often end up using the wrong tool for the job. I will tell you more. I sometimes see clients who are using excellent tools when nothing needs to be used at all. By doing that, they create a problem that is not there at the moment. It is like walking with a drill when nothing needs fixing. Things will get damaged!
It is no wonder that many useful tools end up being rejected by people because they got discouraged with results.
If you think of your relationship toolkit, think of all sorts of tools that you can use. Some tools are very general, like a hammer or a screwdriver, while others are finer and can be highly specialized. A fine instrument can be something that a couple who is struggling with a serious medical issue needs to use. It is specialized for their particular situation and may not be as useful for a couple that had lost a child. That couple may need a different fine tool to help their specific situation.
There is one rule that applies to all situations, no exceptions. Always use a tool with purpose, with intent. No person in their right mind would imagine swinging a hammer or picking up a screwdriver unless they had a specific intention to use it. The same basic rule applies to relationship tools. When we think of hammers and screwdrivers we apply this rule by default because it is so basic that we do not even think about it. If we were able to go back in time and see the first instance when a hammer or a screwdriver was introduced to us, we would probably see someone showing us how to use it or saying “this is a hammer, you use it to put in a nail, like so”. We could also observe someone use it with a purpose. The point is, everyone understands that you do not use a screwdriver unless you see a screw.
When it comes to relationship tools, things get a little more complex. I have seen one partner use a communication tool, a simple summary, as a weapon to hurt their partner rather than reconnect with them. Of course, anyone can use a hammer or a screwdriver as a weapon rather than a construction tool. Everyone would agree though that they are misusing the tool.
So, here is relationship tool number one: Always have a goal before you pick up a relationship tool. If your intention is to hurt your partner, great, you may succeed. What is the goal of hurting them? Maybe you just want to get back at them. Maybe you lost respect for them and want to put them down. I don’t know. People do things for various reasons. If you choose to go ahead and do it, though, at least have a genuine intention of doing it. What I see more often is people pretending to connect with their partner but really pushing them away.
Here is a simple example. Let’s say I felt that I disconnected from my wife for some reason. Let us say that my intention is to re-connect with her and feel good about us again. I know that in order for connection to begin she needs to hear me and to understand me. So, if my intention is to be heard, I’d better use my calm voice when I speak to her about what bothers me. That way I am staying true to my intention of being heard. If I raise my voice and start yelling at her or lecturing her, I would betray my intention. Why? Simple. She would not really listen to me. She would go into her fight or flight mode and get defensive. Now, if my intention was to get her defensive then yelling or lecturing is the right tool for the job! Basically, if I want to be heard, then picking up a “hammer” or a “screwdriver” wouldn’t be very smart. Maybe a “level” would be a more appropriate tool for the situation.
In other words, if I am fixing a door and I use the wrong tool and scratch the door, is it the door’s fault that it got scratched? Well, it was there and it was broken to begin with. But in terms of the repair process and my scratching it, no, it’s not the door’s fault. The fault is totally mine. I either used the wrong tool or I used the right tool but with little skill. There are some people who would still blame the door! What can I say?
Sometimes applying the right tool may still lead to your partner getting defensive. A part of it may be because the relationship is already “broken” and they are sensitive and anticipate the negative. A larger part though is that you are still a “beginner handyman” and need to work on your technique. This is the truth that many people don’t like to hear. They would rather curse the door.
What I am going to teach you is how to intentionally use the right tools for the right situation with your partner. You will learn how to disagree while staying emotionally connected. It will help you develop and maintain your connection. There will be no erosion of that connection by the causticity of the fights. If you apply the tools as intended, you will become more effective in communication.
|Copyright © 2008 Vitali Rosen|