Vasilisis Sofia 51
A weekend workshop in Athens with Michael Soth (17 & 18 November 2018)
on extending your practice from individuals to couples
suitable for all counsellors and therapists from across all therapeutic approaches
Couple work presents many additional challenges beyond individual therapy, but this weekend will condense the essentials into accessible form, focusing especially on the advantages which an embodied and integrative therapeutic perspective can bring to couple work.
An embodied perspective can significantly enhance couple work, in all aspects of the process: in terms of the therapist’s perceptive skills, our understanding of the dynamic as well as powerful opportunities for intervention. The habitual patterns and vicious circles which couples struggle with are mainly triggered, communicated and perpetuated on non-verbal and pre-reflexive levels (as interpersonal neurobiology shows – see references).
For most couples, mutual projective identifications occur subliminally and are difficult to notice and bring into awareness, especially when the couple therapist traditionally relies on ‘talking therapy’ methods and interpretations.
An integrative approach allows the therapist a creative range of interventions – using techniques from Gestalt, constellations, process-oriented psychology to help the couple discover experientially both the roots of their patterns as well as new ways of relating.
Michael will propose a distinction of the field into 8 kinds of couple therapy, drawing on a wide variety of humanistic, interpersonal, neuro-biological, systemic, and psychoanalytic approaches, all of which can be useful and contribute to a more comprehensive integration.
Some of the topics we may address:
- “Can Love Last?” (after the book by Stephen Mitchell) – the vulnerability of attachment and commitment
- the promise of falling in love: the other will provide protection against woundedness
- embodied awareness of each partner’s internal object relations
- complex vicious cycles of child – idealised parent – bad parent - child
- mutual projective identifications (how the partners ‘dream each other up’)
- the systemic fit: who the partners represent in each other’s family system
- the Jungian and transpersonal perspective: each partner can become the other’s guide towards individuation (which involves as a side-effect of the relationship the destroying of each other’s defences)
- Esther Perel’s contributions to our understanding of infidelity and erotic desire
Michael Soth has been developing his version of Embodied Integrative Couple Work over the last 12 years, and has worked with a wide variety of couples. He is an integral-relational Body Psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor (UKCP), living in Oxford, UK. Over the last 32 years he has been teaching on a range of counselling and therapy training courses, alongside working as Training Director at the Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy.
Inheriting concepts, values and ways of working from both psychoanalytic and humanistic traditions, he is interested in the therapeutic relationship as a bodymind process between two people who are both wounded and whole.
In his work and teaching, he integrates an unusually wide range of psychotherapeutic approaches, working towards a broad-spectrum integration of all therapeutic modalities and approaches, each with their gifts, wisdoms and expertise as well as their shadow aspects, fallacies and areas of obliviousness.
Extracts from his published writing as well as hand-outs, blogs and summaries of presentations are available through his website for INTEGRA CPD: www.integra-cpd.co.uk.
Interview on couple work
In preparation for the CPD workshop on couple work in Athens, Michael is interviewed by a Greek colleague:
- Michael, why do we need companionship? Is it an innate need or just something we learned from society and we are trying to reproduce it?
- Are there some distinct stages that interpersonal relationships go through? If so, can you summarize them?
- In the description of your seminar I read with surprise that “one of the purposes / side-effects of the relationship is to destroy each other’s defences”. Can you elaborate?
- Michael, according to your experience, what are the reasons why many people prefer to stay in a existing relationship that doesn’t offer anything any more, rather than set a new course and go for a better relationship?
- Many times I have wondered in my life: am I falling in love with the person that I see in front of me or the longings and expectations that this person is producing in me? Am I falling in love with the other or an imaginary part of myself? Is there a way to distinguish one case from the other?
- Is love enough by itself to keep a relationship going?
- In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that therapists and mental health professionals make when approaching couple therapy?
- You talk about embodied couple therapy - what is that and how does it work? What does an embodied approach have to offer in addition to the talking therapies for couples?
- Is learning about couple work useful only to couple therapists?
You can access the PDF with the interview here.
References for Couple Therapy
Stephen Mitchell (Relational Psychoanalysis): Can Love Last?
James Hillman: see chapter ‘Abandonment in Marriage’ in Loose Ends: Primary Papers in Archetypal Psychology
A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy:
Stan Tatkin https://thepactinstitute.com
Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy:
Harville Hendrix, PhD: Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples
“Couples Therapist Hedy Schleifer, along with her husband Yumi Schleifer, are expert relationship coaches who lead workshops for couples, and trainings for therapists and organizations, transforming relationships worldwide.”
Psychoanalytic (Tavistock) perspectives on relationships
Jungian perspectives on love
Robert A. Johnson
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Jean Shinoda Bolen
Schwartz-Salant, N. (1998) The Mystery of Human Relationship: Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self
(1991) The Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond (Science and Behavior Books)
(2008) Your Many Faces: The First Step to Being Loved (Celestial Arts)
Mastering Family Therapy: Journeys of Growth and Transformation
The Craft of Family Therapy: Challenging Certainties