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Ruth Holt

Ruth Holt

Ms Ruth Holt is a Clinical Psychologist with advanced supervisor and trainer level accreditation in Schema Therapy for Couples and Individuals with the International Society for Schema Therapy. She is based in Canberra, Australia and works with individuals and couples with a range of presentations and conducts workshops and training in Schema Therapy, couples therapy, women’s mental health and abuse in relationships. Ruth has presented at the Australian Psychological Society’s Clinical College Conferences, run workshops throughout Australia and internationally for the ISST. Ruth has edited the book Schema Therapy for Children and Adolescents and has recently published on Schemas and Intimate Partner Violence and Schema Couples Therapy. She consults with organisations on responses to abuse and also conducts strengths building workshops for couples.

  • Try a little Tenderness: how to help couples attune to build a Healthy Adult connection

    Co-Presented with Ruth McCutcheon

    For all couples, being able to express heart-felt tenderness is vital to deeply connecting. When such moments occur in session, these are like gold-dust for therapists and need to be capitalised upon, particularly as most couples presenting in therapy will have the Emotional Deprivation schema (Young, et al., 2003). A parent who is able to provide emotional nourishment for their child creates an intimate bond; when such moments of attunement can be facilitated between couples, this can be a key source of healing (Johnson, 2012). To be cherished by a partner gives a whole new relational experience. Therefore, attunement is especially important for individuals who have been starved of core needs for affection, warmth, openness, strength and guidance. (Lockwood and Samson, 2020). We propose strengthening a Healthy Adult way of relating in a couple via ‘Emotional Connectedness’ so that couples learn to identify and respond to core needs. Also, helping couples build ‘Meta-Awareness’ to step back and manage their coping modes (Edwards, 2022). We’ve found in our practice that key coping which can challenge emotionally deprived partners is detachment which prevents tuning into vulnerability or over-compensating and being demanding of love.

    This workshop will be highly experiential and include the following:

    1) Demonstration of an ‘Attunement Dialogue’ technique. This is a structured exercise to facilitate intimate connection in a couple.

    2) Exploring how to strengthen emotional connection between a couple via physical embodiment in terms of physical affection and sexual touch.

    3) Identifying dilemmas for couples in attuning, such as over compensatory ‘love-traps’ or ‘wooden’ expressions of love which block tenderness.

    4) Exploring how therapists Emotional Deprivation schemas may show up in helping couples attune

    Key Learning outcomes

    • Tools to target deprivation of nurture and empathy in couples

    • Demonstration of an innovative technique the ‘Attunement Dialogue’ to facilitate ‘felt’ connection.

    • Techniques to trouble shoot coping modes interfering with attunement

    • Exploring therapists schemas in working with attunement

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