Childhood Trauma (11:29)
Individuals who engage in high-conflict behavior seem to come from a traumatic experience or abusive background, which results in early attachment seeking behaviors. A healthy nervous system should possess a wide resilient "window of tolerance." In situations of abuse and neglect the child is quick to exhibit a fight or flight response mode or is exceptionally passive; novelty wakes up the nervous system.
Traumatic Attachment (11:03)
Those afflicted exhibit a desperate need to be loved and a fight or flight response. Children need to be loved in order to be protected. Disorganized attachment symptoms at age one statistically predicts dissociative identity disorder or borderline personality disorder.
Chronic Conflict Couples (14:52)
Sometimes couples cannot afford to be tolerant and human error is not tolerated. Triggers are not a rational experience or have a one to one correlation; try to help the patient understand that experiencing strong emotions might actually be remembering a somatic experience. Partners believe they are responsible for the emotions.
Limited by Animal Defenses (19:45)
People can fight, flee, freeze, or submit when confronted; high-conflict couples tend to attack or run away. High activation partners experience intrusive images and body memories with or without pictures. Numbness is physiological.
Recognizing Traumatic Attachment Disorder (14:41)
The adult will be dysregulated and also proximity seeking; the two types include disorganized attachment with preoccupied tendencies and disorganized attachment with avoidant tendencies. Asking patients to describe a fight reactivates the painful memories. The fight has nothing to do with the partner, but triggers a memory within the body.
Structural Dissociation Model (10:28)
Trauma causes a person's identity to fragment where part of the individual becomes ashamed and fearful. Anything that interrupts the arguments between a high-conflict couple should be employed. Janina Fisher insists on a no fighting policy during sessions. Competing survival strategies triggers more conflict because it makes the partners view each other as the enemy.
Therapy Strategies (09:15)
Make the couple agree to never use what is said in therapy as a weapon. When in conflict, the prefrontal cortex shuts down, reducing the ability to use language and remember context. Fisher integrates sensorimotor therapy into her practice and does not try to make her clients empathize with their partners.
Increasing Awareness Triggers (08:04)
Diagram the couple to help demonstrate why their childhood traumas trigger them during arguments. Distance the couple from emotion by referring to their child selves and teenage protectors using "he" and "she" pronouns.
Somatic Interventions (04:54)
Teach clients to track bodily reactions to the other and regulate their nervous system and bodily tension. Have them acknowledge when they feel closer to their partner.
Using Gesture and Movement (07:12)
In sensorimotor therapy, one attempts interventions to gain a greater understanding of the crisis. Fisher describes the "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" intervention. Teach couples to notice when they are getting triggered and help them to regulate the responses.
Fun Experiences (07:44)
Plan surprises to increase endorphin production; human bodies do not support long term romantic feelings. Regulate couples in a session so they feel something positive. Good therapists should be empathetic, playful, accepting, and curious.
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