Workshop 15: Healing the Fragmented Self in Couples Treatment
Couples enter relationships with unconscious hopes that these will be reparative, that their wounded child selves will finally experience the cherishing for which they have longed. As each triggers or disappoints the other’s hurt child selves, protector parts rise to the defense with anger, withdrawal, threats, or shame. In this model, couples are helped to identify hurt, angry, fearful feelings as communications from young parts and their vigorous defensive responses as those of protector parts. By having a way to ‘hover above’ their conflicts, ‘own’ hurt and disappointment as the feelings of a young child, and take responsibility for their fight/flight behavior, couples develop a new language that promotes safety and closeness.
- Identify actions and reactions triggered in the relationship as communications from child parts.
- Describe the contributions of protector parts to the conflicts in the relationship.
- Demonstrate new relational patterns in which the soothing of one’s young parts becomes the focus of attention, rather than assumed to be the responsibility of the partner.