About AEDPfC

From the First Minute of the First Session

Rather than seeking to find the problems that the couple has, the therapist who is practicing AEDPfC (AEDP for Couples) focuses on discovering and amplifying the strengths of the couple relationship and softening the defenses that have been keeping these natural capacities from emerging in a more full and stable way. Subtle and overt signs of the felt experience of love are evoked in each couple member from the first moment of the first session. Here is an example of a prompt from an AEDPfC therapist at the opening of the first session: “Will you please turn toward each other and tell your partner, if this therapy is to be a success, what do you want to experience with your partner?” This is different from what one member wants from the other, which especially for the more avoidantly attached member can come across as demanding or as a criticism about an implied deficiency.

Transformance Drives
Transformance drives are the central guiding force of AEDP for Couples. Diana Fosha (2008) coined the term to describe the indwelling biological drive to evolve and progress to higher levels of relational capacity. In 2009 David Mars adapted the term to the specific transformance drive in couple members to love and be loved. As the fMRI research of Helen Fisher (2004) shows us, the brain centers for the in-love experience lie even deeper in the brain than the centers for lust. This longing for the “in-love” experience that feels good, peaceful and safe becomes a guiding light for the therapist and each couple member.

Cultivating the Self of the Therapist
AEDPfC is based on increasing the whole body somatic attunement of the therapist. This somatic attunement grows in the therapist who is accessing natural transformance drives to facilitate the couple’s process. Relational connectivity and “undoing aloneness” (Fosha, 2000, Mars, 2011) through the judicious use of self-revelation on the part of the therapist helps to build an alliance with each couple member.

Somatically Attuned Self-at-Best – in couple members and in the therapist

Emerging affective neuroscience and applied attachment research are key elements of AEDPfC. … Another intention of the work is to evoke the somatically attuned self-at-best in each couple member progressively from the first session going forward. … By self-at-best, I refer to a term used by Diana Fosha (AEDP’s founder) in her remarkably prescient book ,The Transformative Power of Affect (2000). Self-at-best describes the way we most long to be and act that is exemplified by being self-reflective, attuned, and effective even when circumstantially activated or triggered.

Grounding and Self-regulation

Imagine your level of responsiveness and creativity of engagement on a “good day” when all is right in your world. Imagine now being this way even in couple sessions, when attachment level activation and agitation is looming between two couple members who arrive in a distressed state. The training and practice in AEDP for Couples is strongly oriented to the grounded inner work of the therapist in expanding the capacity to see, hear, feel, sense, notice movement, and track subtle energetic shifts moment-by-moment.

Seven Channels of Experience and Tracking moment-by-moment

In the AEDP for Couples model, we bridge to other channels of bodily experience in order to open and validate alternate pathways as being also “real” and true and valuable, so connection can be made in whatever channel of experience it can be perceived, received and expressed in each evolving moment.  Part of the strategy of AEDP for Couples is for each partner to attune and then receive on the channels on which his or her partner broadcasts and then cross-train with each other to receive the channels of experience that are available as a larger repertoire is built over the course of treatment.

For the above stated reasons and more, in AEDP for Couples, treatment moves forward through moment-to-moment tracking of the co-created intersubjective field in a broadband sort of way.  Because in work with couples we have more than one person to track, by involving the seven channels of experience, we include more of the precious epiphenomena in the room. This is what Allan Shore calls the intersubjective somatic field.   The channels of experience include: sensation (including warmth, tension and tingling), energetic phenomena (expanding and contracting, filling and draining, brightening and dimming) emotion (joy, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust), movement (including micro-expressions, and subtle gestures), auditory (voice tone and timbre and verbally conveyed meaning), visual (visible signs of expression, especially of love and caring) and imaginal (all of the other six channel of experience that appear as imagined that spontaneously or intentionally are called into awareness).

Intention: growing awareness and appreciation to the other

The intention in AEDP for Couples is to model and to assist each member of the couple to develop deep skills in holding an evolving witness consciousness that leads to a growing awareness and appreciation that a range of modes of experience and expression are valid and necessary within the growing culture of the couple.  This process is about tenderly and respectfully bridging to the experience of each partner to go toward that which is longed for in a mutually welcoming connection.

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