Dr Ruth McCutcheon is a Counselling Psychologist with advanced supervisor and trainer level accreditation in Schema Therapy for Couples and Individuals with the International Society for Schema Therapy and is a co-director supervisor and trainer with the Academy of Schema Therapy. Ruth works as a therapist and supervisor with a range of psychological issues including relationship difficulties and complex trauma with couples and individuals. She also delivers trainings and workshops in Schema Therapy and has presented at a number of conferences; for the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) and internationally for the ISST and EABCT. She is also a visiting lecturer at a number of London Universities in the UK.
Try a little Tenderness: how to help couples attune to build a Healthy Adult connection
Co-Presented with Ruth Holt
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