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Pursuing Passion Through the Neo- Cortex Don Ferguson, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Pursuing Passion Through the Neo- Cortex Don Ferguson, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pursuing Passion Through the Neo- Cortex Don Ferguson, Ph.D. donferguson@tds.netwww.inrelationships.com

2 Response to Threat Full body experience Full body experience Breathing, heart rate, musculature, body chemistry, hormones, digestion Breathing, heart rate, musculature, body chemistry, hormones, digestion The brain also prepares for battle or flight The brain also prepares for battle or flight Direct routing of threat info to amygdala Direct routing of threat info to amygdala Narrowed focus and vision Narrowed focus and vision

3 Executive Operating Systems RAGECARE FEARPANIC SEEKINGPLAY LUST Affective Neuroscience Panksepp, Jaak, 1998, New York: Oxford University Press

4 Bartholomew and Horowitz used this model to create the Relationship Questionnaire (RC). Bartholomew and Horowitz used this model to create the Relationship Questionnaire (RC).

5 I needI can’t You won’t You’re bad You want too much You’re bad Curiosity ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6 Anxiety increases anxiety Frustrated needs and desires will lead to increased anxiety and need for reassurance Frustrated needs and desires will lead to increased anxiety and need for reassurance As one acts out this desperation, the partner’s anxiety and desperation increases and so on As one acts out this desperation, the partner’s anxiety and desperation increases and so on Getting one partner to surrender in some manner may only make matters worse Getting one partner to surrender in some manner may only make matters worse

7 Couples out of synch The partners are often startled by the fact that even their most positive efforts are met with suspicion or resentment. The partners are often startled by the fact that even their most positive efforts are met with suspicion or resentment. (the gift of information) They are out of synch so that when one tries the other is not ready. They are out of synch so that when one tries the other is not ready. This leads to hopelessness: “Nothing I do is ever good enough.” This leads to hopelessness: “Nothing I do is ever good enough.”

8 John Gottman Increase overall positivity in marriage— nonconflict Increase overall positivity in marriage— nonconflict Decrease negativity during conflict discussion Decrease negativity during conflict discussion Increase positivity during conflict discussion Increase positivity during conflict discussion

9 The Goal Reduce intensity between partners. This is exactly opposite of attempting to increase intimacy. Reducing their closeness and tension facilitates their ability to use complex neo-cortex abilities.

10 The treatment agreement Following the initial assessment- I ask the couple to have a brief meeting about their experience of the intake. They should discuss whether this approach sounds reasonable and whether they both feel comfortable with me. Following the initial assessment- I ask the couple to have a brief meeting about their experience of the intake. They should discuss whether this approach sounds reasonable and whether they both feel comfortable with me. If agreeing to treatment, they will make one evaluation appointment for each and a conjoint session for recommendations. If agreeing to treatment, they will make one evaluation appointment for each and a conjoint session for recommendations.

11 Common fears when attempting change It won’t change It won’t change It will get worse It will get worse It will change but it won’t last It will change but it won’t last The change will not be sufficient The change will not be sufficient I will be talked/coerced into doing or accepting things that are not good for me. I will be talked/coerced into doing or accepting things that are not good for me.

12 The mechanics-assessment How do they attempt discussions? How do they attempt discussions? When do they have time together? When do they have time together? How do battles begin? How do battles begin? How do they fight dirty? How do they fight dirty? How do they ask for things? How do they ask for things? Who initiates sex and how do they respond to each other? Who initiates sex and how do they respond to each other?

13 Primitive battle Diagnosis and name-calling Diagnosis and name-calling Attacking the family Attacking the family I’m the expert I’m the expert I work harder than you I work harder than you Calling on experts, books and other evidence Calling on experts, books and other evidence Intimidation Intimidation Arguing the facts Arguing the facts

14 Looking for positives Attachment language-agency, connection, hope, positive story telling, humor Attachment language-agency, connection, hope, positive story telling, humor Shared goals Shared goals The exceptions to the negatives: The exceptions to the negatives: When do things go well? When do things go well? When do they have their best times? When do they have their best times? Be cautious when asking about exceptions. Be cautious when asking about exceptions.

15 The Experimental Nature of Change Everything a couple asks for or tries is merely an experiment. Everything a couple asks for or tries is merely an experiment. Be prepared to back up because… Be prepared to back up because… If an assignment fails, it wasn’t resistance. It was the wrong assignment. If an assignment fails, it wasn’t resistance. It was the wrong assignment.

16 We need to talk. I really need to talk to you and get to know you better. I will feel closer to you. or I want to rip you open emotionally, make you feel guilty and inadequate and then tap dance on your bloodied useless carcass. This will take about four hours.

17 The mechanics- planning Planning meetings- timing, time-limits, preparation, decreasing surprises Planning meetings- timing, time-limits, preparation, decreasing surprises Place- remember conditioning theory Place- remember conditioning theory Establishing rules of engagement Establishing rules of engagement Soft start-ups, bids and increasing positives (Gottman) Soft start-ups, bids and increasing positives (Gottman)

18 Defining the Problem Forcing your brains to organize the data Forcing your brains to organize the data Specific and behavioral objectives Specific and behavioral objectives Select and define sub-arguments and distractions Select and define sub-arguments and distractions What are the key subjects and what do they mean to each of you? What are the key subjects and what do they mean to each of you? What would each of you view as a successful conclusion to the topic you have named as important? What would each of you view as a successful conclusion to the topic you have named as important?

19 Early Building of Positives (Gottman, Hendrix) Wish list Wish list Minimal positive contact Minimal positive contact Sacred times Sacred times Initiating times together (How do they get together after absences? The arsenic hour is described.) Initiating times together (How do they get together after absences? The arsenic hour is described.) Celebrating change Celebrating change Note: These are early interventions and do not necessarily address the big issues, yet.

20 Relapse Inoculating against catastrophic reactions to relapse Inoculating against catastrophic reactions to relapse Using relapse as a learning tool Using relapse as a learning tool Celebrating new responses to old behaviors Celebrating new responses to old behaviors Discussing continued growth Discussing continued growth

21 After Relapse, Tx Begins! Couples have an initial honeymoon Couples have an initial honeymoon They then have a vicious relapse which is all the more painful because they thought they had made it. They then have a vicious relapse which is all the more painful because they thought they had made it. Now they are ready to do the deeper work beyond just learning to be nicer to each other. Now they are ready to do the deeper work beyond just learning to be nicer to each other. You need to invoke their curiosity. You need to invoke their curiosity.

22 Sex, love and affection Couples often view problems of sexual desire, arousal and performance as problems of interest, affection and desirability. Couples often view problems of sexual desire, arousal and performance as problems of interest, affection and desirability. It is often difficult but necessary to help them separate these concepts. It is often difficult but necessary to help them separate these concepts.

23 What part of sex is just business and mechanics? Business versus Personal Issues Business versus Personal Issues Partnership Meetings Partnership Meetings Place, timing, agenda Place, timing, agenda Defining the problem and who has what problem Defining the problem and who has what problem What is minimal positive change? What is minimal positive change? What else do we need for this discussion? (books, other info) What else do we need for this discussion? (books, other info)

24 Group Program Introduction to the biology of fighting and estrangement Introduction to the biology of fighting and estrangement Self Assessment Self Assessment Development of structured interactions Development of structured interactions Meetings, Negotiations, Play Meetings, Negotiations, Play Family Discussion and Assessments Family Discussion and Assessments Problem focus for successful discussions Problem focus for successful discussions Increasing intimacy Increasing intimacy Relapse Relapse


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