Here’s a bit of my journey to becoming an EFT couples therapist.
September, 2006 saw me heading to Ottawa to attend a couple’s therapist training. I am a couple’s therapist so nothing unusual in that.
I was distracted though, that September.
My father had died a few months earlier, unexpectedly, after a brief illness. Thoughts about that occupied my mind more than thoughts of improving my therapeutic skills. I remember wondering if I’d really be able to focus on the training.
Introduction to Attachment
I wasn’t surprised to hear about couple conflict, infidelity, disengaged partners and so on. But I was startled, and mesmerized, by the attachment lens I was given through which to view these issues.
I learned that attachment is the deep emotional bond between people in close relationships. Secure attachment trumps fair fighting, excellent communication, and self-sufficiency. The attachment bond lets me know, experientially and profoundly
- I matter
- I’m important
- I’m approved of
- when in need, I’m not alone
I know About Attachment…
I was familiar with attachment. I felt the rush of it when I fell in love and when my children were born. I knew it’s strong steady pulse over the years as I stayed married and cared for my children.
And I Don’t Want to be Needy!
But I often wondered if I was too needy, too dependent on my partner. I worried I hadn’t emphasized independence enough with my children. I judged myself harshly when emotions of loneliness and abandonment overtook me.
So I arrived in Ottawa in 2006, concerned the grief for my dad was too extreme. After all it wasn’t my spouse who had died, or one of my children. I was bothered by how I couldn’t put away troublesome memories of other relationships that kept washing over me since my Dad’s death.
What a Relief! I’m Not Needy
As I listened and learned that week I felt a growing sense of relief. My need for deep emotional attachment with significant others is not pathological neediness. It’s a normal need that doesn’t stop at age twelve or thirteen. It stretches over the life span, from cradle to grave (a la John Bowlby, the father of attachment). The grief I felt about my dad illuminated what I was learning instead of obscuring it.
Light bulbs continued to go on. I recognized the parallels between children’s and adult’s coping strategies when relationships closest to them aren’t going well. I reframed troubling memories from an attachment perspective.
Nagging, angry family members are the equivalent of child bullies. Deep inside all feel ignored by those they love most. Preoccupied, distant adults and withdrawn, haughty children are each trying to deaden the pain of attachment distress.
That September, 2006 week in Ottawa brought the professional and the personal together for me in a way that continues into the present. The attachment distress couples share with in my office mirrors the anguish I feel when my close relationships are challenging. The deeply moving work I witness as couples repair their attachment bond motivates me to work for that kind of healing with those I care about.
What About You?
Do the personal and the professional come together in your life somehow?