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 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.